Brandles Governing Body
Governor News Spring term 2017
Life at Brandles continues to be extremely busy. Mr Pearce has revised the curriculum to make it more appealing to those who find it difficult to engage with traditional subjects in a traditional classroom situation. Governors approved the changes and have spent time this term visiting the school to evaluate how boys have reacted to shorter lesson times, the new behaviour managers and new approaches to teaching science and art. We are very pleased with increased levels of involvement in the classrooms, with the reductions in time out of class and fewer serious issues with behaviour. Our behaviour is not yet all good, but it is definitely an improvement on previous terms. We hope that as boys become increasingly focused on working towards qualifications and responding positively to those changes which have been made for their benefit the positive behaviour scores will improve further.
The Hub is an important aspect of life at Brandles. ESW means Engagement Support Workers. But Gary and Steve are so much more than their label! They provide a safe space when boys are not able to sustain time in the main school. They work with boys who are coming back to school, or starting their time at Brandles. Team building skills, confidence building and close work with parents and families are part of what they do. Governors were very impressed to hear about this work at a recent presentation.
Four governors came in to participate in learning walks with senior members of staff. It was STEM week, when our new science teacher had created a whole school programme for all classes. We were looking at how lessons were planned and how efficiently teachers organised their classes to ensure that all pupils were able to be fully involved. This was a busy and quite exciting week for all pupils, but we also noted how enthusiastically staff embraced this holistic way of working. There were sessions using BMX bikes, paper planes, detection work and even live meerkats! Governors were very impressed with the mood in the school. Behaviour was largely good and we hope that this week will just be the first in a programme of stimulating learning opportunities.
In addition to observing lessons we focused on finance and safeguarding. Rhona Seviour has been particularly busy. A lot of work has been done checking the efficiency of our safeguarding systems. We have considered policies and procedures. A revised Equality statement and policy are now on the school site. Improved recording systems have resulted from this work and I am grateful to both safeguarding link governors for time spent. Safeguarding underpins everything that goes on in Brandles. We note it in the behaviours and attitudes manifesting across the school whenever we visit. We consider how boys speak to each other and to staff, how they move around the school and how British Values are incorporated into school life.
Perhaps you have seen some head teachers on television commenting on the impact of the new school funding formula and the pressures on their budget. We are not exempt from such pressures. Mick Furness is the chair of the finance committee and has spent much time this term meeting with the school’s finance advisor, the head teacher and other governors to manage budget matters. We do not have a deficit budget, but there is little spare capacity to grow the curriculum in the way we should like. We monitor budget spends very carefully and discuss all planned changes and outcomes with the head. We would welcome any offers of help from parents and carers to make changes or support our efforts. Please let the head know if you have any ideas which would benefit the school.
The Pupil Premium is another aspect of funding which governors monitor carefully. Tasha Parkhouse is responsible for checking that the money is used appropriately, that outcomes are monitored and best value achieved. Her work in school this term has meant that improved reporting of the use of the Pupil Premium can now be seen on the school site.
We are also involved in the general day to day monitoring of school life, training and widening links within the community. Next term we shall be looking at assemblies and the Student Council, obtaining opinions from the boys themselves about those things they believe important. We also plan to attend a coffee morning to meet any parents who would like to speak with us.
Gary and Steve took some boys to Northampton University to show them that there are more opportunities out there when you have the right mind set. They were pleased to see how the boys reacted and, more importantly, behaved. As governors we were delighted with excellent feedback from the recent ELSA HSB day, where one of our year 10 pupils so impressed that he was offered work experience. Our boys have, in the main, worked hard this term. We hope that those who face external exams next term will believe that “you won’t know if you can do it until you try.” We can put a lot of help your way, but you need to buy in to this too. Your future is in your hands, literally, when you pick up that pen. Life beyond Brandles can be so much better if you are well prepared.
I hope this newsletter has given you a flavour of what governors do to support the head and staff. Being a governor is an interesting way to become involved in school life. We really do need more parents and others from the community to help us in our work. I should be delighted to hear from anyone who feels that they have the time and commitment to join us. If you want to know more about governance, or find out other ways to support the school, we should love to hear from you. My email contact is on the home page of our site. I am always happy to meet parents and explain more about our role. Please do think about becoming a governor. We would offer training and support so do not worry about not having an educational background.
On behalf of all the governors at Brandles I wish you a happy and peaceful Easter.
Chair of Governors