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Sherston C of E

Primary School

Learning, Caring and Achieving Together

NEWSLETTER - APR 2021

GOVERNING BODY NEWSLETTER - APRIL 2021

 

Here we are at the end at what has probably been one of the most challenging terms to date for the staff, parents and children. It certainly seems a lot longer than 12 weeks ago when the schools opened up after Christmas only to be told 8 hours later that the doors were closing again. That unexpected closure obviously has had huge logistical and emotional repercussions for everyone and huge credit is due to the staff, parents and children for taking it in their stride, keeping spirits up and the children’s education at a high level throughout the lockdown. We are very aware how difficult the home-schooling juggle is for both the parents and the staff (many of whom were also home-schooling) so this is a huge achievement.

 

It was difficult to tell who was more excited at the re-opening on the 8th, the children, the staff or the parents but it is safe to say that, with 100% attendance, the school has been buzzing since.

 

For the Governing Body, this term has presented some new challenges and its supporting role has become more important than ever. To ensure this, on top of the usual committee and FGB meetings, the Chair and Vice Chair have been meeting on a weekly basis with Mrs Leyden.

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Key development areas have been as follows:

 

Teaching and Learning:  The move over to home-learning at very short notice provided some new hurdles. Although there was a Home Learning Plan in place, the school continued to review and develop this throughout the term to include more interaction with teachers and on-line sessions. Internal training sessions for the teachers to develop new skills in remote teaching were also put in place. The Governors were able to discuss and monitor these developments in their weekly meetings with Mrs Leyden.

 

Our SEND and Pupil Premium Governor has also been liaising closely with the School Inclusion Needs Co-ordinator (InCo). Whole school risk assessments of vulnerable children have been reviewed and the necessary support has been given to all these pupils and their families during lockdown.

 

One of the things that became a significant obstacle (and frustration!) during lockdown was the IT infrastructure at the school.  The WiFI has really been put to test during this time and, like many schools, a review has found the set up is not fit for purpose. The Governors have therefore approved a 3 year IT Improvement Plan with the WIFI being first on the list as a priority.

 

Staff Wellbeing & Training: The staff, like everyone else, have had to do a lot of adapting this term. Staff wellbeing is therefore a priority to ensure the staff have felt supported during this time. Professional development also remains very important during this isolating time and we are pleased to announce that the FSS contribution to Teacher Development Training that we mentioned in the last newsletter has funded more training than initially thought due to the fact that during lockdown the staff were able to do the on-line training without requiring staff cover. Thank you FSS!

 

Safeguarding: The Safeguarding responsibilities of a school during a lockdown situation becomes even more complex and our Safeguarding Governor has been working closely with the school with regards to ongoing safeguarding cases

 

Health and Safety: With the pandemic at its height at the beginning of January, keeping the school and local community safe and the school open for the vulnerable and keyworker children who could not be kept at home became the priority. The very high demand for keyworkers school places not only meant this was compromised but also the required level of home-learning provision would not have been possible so the school and governors made the very difficult decision to ask all keyworker parents who could keep their children at home to do so. We are aware that this impacted on many parents and we would like to thank you for supporting this decision. This provided a much safer environment for those inside the school which in turn has kept the school open through the entirety of the lockdown and it also ensured that more teacher hours could be dedicated to provide home-learning.

 

The H&S Governor and Mrs Leyden have also done a full H&S audit. There are no new Covid-19 precautions  as these were all put in place before Christmas but this term has seen the introduction of teacher Lateral Flow testing twice per week.

 

Finance

Securing short and long term financial stability for the school is paramount and the Finance Committee have been monitoring this closely and devising a strategy for the future which has involved some difficult decisions. Long term budget planning has now started for the next 5 years.

 

The Finance Committee have also carried out a thorough Financial Benchmarking Report which compares incomings and outgoings with comparative schools in the local authority. This did not show any unexpected results with Sherston comparing positively against similar schools.

 

Communication & Publicity: During lockdown, it became increasingly important to keep communication with the school community. The Communication Governor has been working as part of a communications team with the school and FSS to promote feel good communication via the school Facebook page which included the ‘Keep Smiling’ campaign. We would very much like to thank the FSS for providing the wonderful ‘Back2SchoolBears’ which caused much pleasure not only for the children on coming back to school but it seems the whole community were enjoying waiting to see where the bear would pop up next.

 

Team News

We are currently recruiting for a ‘co-opted governor’ position to join the team. co-opted governor is someone appointed by the governing body and who, in the opinion of the governing body, has the skills required to contribute to the effective governance and success of the school. This can be a parent/carer or someone independent from the school community. In order to enhance the current skill set on the Governing Body, we are ideally looking for experience in the educational sector but there are lots of relevant skills so, if you are interested in joining the school’s Governing Body, please contact the Chair, Belinda Robinson msrobinson@sherston.wilts.sch.uk

 

And finally

As the clocks change, the days get longer and the rule of 6 comes back into play, it certainly feels like there are more positive times ahead and that next term will hopefully see more steps back to normality. One thing however that the tough times of this term have demonstrated is what an amazing and supportive school community we have at Sherston and, on behalf of the governors, we would like to thank you all for that.

 

Wishing you all a VERY HAPPY EASTER

 

The Governors  

 

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