Owslebury School Governors Newsletter - 2017 Autumn

Governors Autumn Term 2017 Update

The first term of the 2017/18 academic year was a challenging one, with some unexpected changes. The governors monitored the situation closely and were delighted with the strategic approach that Mrs Smith and the senior leadership team took to ensuring stability and consistency for the children. As a result of this strategic leadership we have strong teaching and learning across the school and children are making good progress in their learning. We would like to thank all staff for their commitment to ensuring that children remain the centre of all that we do at Owslebury Primary School.

What have the Governing Body been focusing on since last term?

Scrutinising, challenging and reviewing the drafted School Improvement Plan for the next two years, and ensuring that the operational activities planned by staff will deliver on the strategic priorities for the school. The agreed SIP can be found on the school website, along with how evidence of its impact on children’s learning is monitored.

Discussing and challenging reports from school leaders which report operational matters, such as ensuring high quality and continuity in education for children during staff absence, appropriate intervention programmes and support for children who can be further supported or extended across the school, staff professional development objectives and training plans to continue our ambition of providing outstanding teaching and learning across the school, consideration of how to manage future budget pressures, reviewing our approach to communications and setting out improvement priorities for the year ahead. These discussions ensure that staff are held to account for the progress, attainment and wellbeing of all children.  

Identifying our focus areas for improvement to governance this year and implementing this through assigning new roles, responsibilities, objectives, targets and training plans. This ensures that we continue to play a key role in improving the performance of the school.

Reviewing, challenging and implementing policies which deliver the statutory responsibilities and strategic vision of Owslebury Primary School. This term we have focused upon Child Protection, Safeguarding, Confidentiality, the new Data Protection regulations, and Code of Conduct. We have also been reviewing key governance regulatory and guidance changes this year and ensuring that we comply with them and continue to provide effective governance to the school. This ensures that we provide a robust and effective system for ensuring that we are legally and morally providing for the children and community of the school.

In the Teaching & Learning Committee meetings we have been focusing on:

  • Analysing and challenging the quality of teaching and learning throughout the school; teaching is currently good throughout the school. We know this is true from data collected that looks at a number of indicators including progress and attainment across all pupils at the school.
  • Discussing and reviewing the School Improvement Plan priorities and how these impact on teaching and learning this has included:
    • improving from Good to Outstanding teaching
    • implementing the concept of ‘growth mindset’ across the school
    • helping pupils to exceed expectations in progression.
  • Supporting and reviewing challenges faced the Head Teacher and the Leadership Team, for example, staff sickness and making sure policies are kept up to date.

How to contact the Governing Board

If you would like to raise a matter with the Governing Board you can do so through the following routes;

  • Contact the Chair of Governors (you can also use the form below)
  • Contact the Lead Governor for the area that your matter relates to – see ‘Our Governors’ for the current list of names and lead areas;
  • Approach one of the parent governors.

Please bear in mind that governors are responsible for strategic, not operational matters. Any concerns regarding your child, teaching or other day-to-day matters should be raised with the relevant teacher or headteacher. In the unlikely event that this process does not resolve your matter then you should raise this with the Chair of Governors.


Contact the Governors


School Success

Ofsted

Back in June we had our periodic OFSTED inspection. On the day the inspector met with staff, governors and parents, and after a thorough review of school systems and records and a visit to each class to see the school in action, we were awarded yet again a Good rating. The inspector also provided us with some very complimentary comments and observations. The governors would like to thank Wendy and the whole staff team on this great Ofsted result!

SATS

In the summer our leaving year 6 pupils achieved great SATS results, hitting all the targets expected of them and exceeding national levels by a clear margin. The pupils all worked very hard, and the Governors recognise that Wendy’s leadership of an excellent team at Owslebury helped make the most of each pupils potential.

The School Improvement Plan (SIP)

There are 5 strands to the School Improvement Plan which will make a significant difference to the school over the next 2 years. These strands, in summary, will enable us to provide outstanding teaching across the school, great progress and attainment for all children, accompanied by effective support for their wellbeing, and will make more effective use of the opportunities that our location, facilities, site and community offer. For example;

As part of Mrs Smith’s vision for the school there is a focus on developing children’s language about learning and knowledge about the process of learning. This is vitally important so that as ‘Empowered Learners’ children thrive both during their time at Owslebury as well as throughout their lives thereafter. This term saw the start of our journey of improving ‘Growth Mindset’ across the school. This work stems from research by Professor Carol Dweck and is about strategies for thinking about the process of learning. If you would like to understand more about why this is important there is a great 10 minute ‘TED TALK’ video by Carol Dweck which explains the concepts and the impact that this work has on learning and success.

Whilst governors do not have access to, or knowledge of, data about individual children, we do scrutinize reports and analysis about children’s learning across the school. For example, we track groups of children so that we are ensuring boys and girls receive equal support and that children with particular learning difficulties or children who are more able receive personalized programmes of support. Some of this data comes from the senior leadership team’s termly assessments and analysis, and some of this data comes from national sources. We review this data termly with two objectives.

  1. The first is to scrutinize and challenge the analysis provided by leaders about the progress and attainment of children’s learning, and most importantly what is being done to further enhance support for children so that all children make good progress and reach their own individual potential. Data analysis is one of the many strengths of our leadership team, which was reinforced by last year’s Ofsted inspection and by our Hampshire external advisor as well as through governor scrutiny and monitoring.
  2. The second is to compare our data to other similar schools nationally to ensure that we are doing the very best for our community. This includes looking at small schools, but also schools with similar cohorts of children, similar starting points and similar budgets. We are very pleased that our school performs very well when compared with these schools.

Governor focus for the next year

Whilst we were delighted with the good report from Ofsted about the high quality of our governance last year, we are clear about where we would like to improve further. To support this we have a Governor Action Plan that is part of the School Improvement Plan, and this year we are focusing specifically on improving;

  • The depth of scrutiny in our questions and challenge – so that we have an ever improving understanding of the school and what leaders are putting in place to improve provision;
  • The quality and impact of our communications and collaborations with the broad range of people who are part of the school community – including parents, staff, villagers, parish council, but most importantly with children;
  • Our commitment to continuing to be a self-improving school through governor training and support for staff career development. Our commitment to staff professional development is absolutely vital. National figures show that ‘on average’ teachers and school leaders stay in post for about 4-5 years before moving on to further develop their career. As a governing body we are committed to providing training and development for all our staff whilst they are part of Owslebury Primary School so that they continue to develop professionally. This benefits our children whilst they are in post with us, as well as contributing to the wider teaching profession’s overarching improvements. We were delighted for example that we were able to support Miss Watson this year in her promotion to a leadership role; reflecting her outstanding teaching and commitment to leadership development. This understanding of, and commitment to, professional development is again a strength of our leadership team, ensuring that we set a good example to the children through our own commitment to learning and improvement.

The Growth Minsdet

As part of this year’s School Improvement Plan, we are focusing on growth mindset throughout the school, including specialist training for staff and developing language for feedback which encourages inquisitively and positive feelings about learning.

What is a growth mindset? How a child approaches a problem and what ‘mindset’ they adopt will have a significant impact on their enjoyment and, ultimately, their success of a task. This idea was developed by the psychologist Professor Carol Dweck, who looked at the difference between fixed and growth mindsets.

Children who have a fixed mindset believe that their basic abilities and talents are immovable traits. They may give up on challenging tasks easily, or avoid tasks they’ve failed at before. They tend to believe that being ‘good’ at a particular activity is a fixed state, and is something they can’t control.

In a growth mindset, children can find out that through effort and continuous learning they can develop their talents and abilities to effectively overcome natural ability. The growth mindset approach creates a love of learning and a positive mental attitude that embraces failure as a critical way to improve.

For example, a child faced with a maths problem who has a fixed mindset will be afraid of getting the answer wrong and will prefer to stay in their comfort zone. The child who approaches the same maths problem with a growth mindset will see this as an opportunity to learn and will be positive about overcoming the challenge in front of them.

Dweck’s research shows that by adopting the growth mindset theory, hard work can overcome natural ability and pave the way for greater progress in learning.

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