Governance Statement 2018-2019
Annual Governance Statement for the Governing Body of the Opossum Federation
In accordance with the Government’s requirement for all governing bodies, the 3 core strategic functions of the Opossum Federation’s Governing Body are:
The Governing Body of the Opossum Federation is comprised of 12 voting members including the Senior Executive Head Teacher. Co-opted governors are appointed by the Governing Body and are people who, in the opinion of the governing body, have the skills required to contribute to the effective governance and success of the schools: on our Governing Body we have seven Co-opted governors who are members of the local community (including our Chair of Governors who is also a National Leader of Governance), two staff members (including the Senior Executive Headteacher), two parent governors and an LA governor. Members of federation staff, including the Heads of School, attend regularly as observers.
Governing Body members sit on committees, which have been created to consider aspects of school life in detail. The Resources Committee meets regularly to examine aspects of school life relating to finance, human resources and premises. Other committees are formed, as necessary, to address specific school/federation matters, such as complaints or grievances. The full Governing Body meets each half term to review the actions of the committees and to ratify decisions and policies. See page 6 for a list of Governors.
Attendance record of governors
Governors have excellent attendance at meetings and a meeting has never had to be cancelled because it was not “quorate” (the number of governors needed to ensure that legal decisions can be made). See page 9 for details of individual governors’ attendance at meetings.
The Federation was formed in 2014 and now comprises four primary schools. The schools are all maintained, community schools located in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. Newport and Oakhill were recognised as Outstanding Schools in 2013, while Dawlish and Thorpe Hall were acknowledged as Good in recent inspections. Opossum schools recognise and cater to all abilities, celebrate diversity and encourage independent thinking. Staff support each other and work well in partnership to ensure all the pupils in our community receive the best education possible.
The federation is built on three core objectives – enriching lives, unleashing possibilities and building futures; these aims are at the heart of all we do within our family of schools. We strive to ensure that our schools retain their individual identities whilst ensuring that they are reflective of our federation ethos.
The federation benefits from closely located schools - Newport and Dawlish are a short walk apart in the south of the borough, and Thorpe Hall and Oakhill a short distance from each other in the north of the borough. This offers many opportunities for joint staff working and shared learning experiences for the children and staff from neighbouring schools.
About the Federation and the work that we have done on our committees and in the governing body
The Governing Body has had another busy year, focusing on school improvement and promoting excellent achievement for pupils.
The board reviews key data relating to pupil achievement, so that governors can have a clear understanding of progress towards meeting its ambitious targets for all pupils. The board is also concerned about our “vulnerable groups” of children and regularly reviews how the Pupil Premium Grant is being spent by the schools and what impact this has on their outcomes. Further information can be found about the use and impact of the Pupil Premium Grant on the schools’ websites. All reports submitted to the governing Body are rigorously reviewed by the full board and, where appropriate, scrutinized in greater detail at the Resources Committee meetings. Governors ask questions to query or confirm details and to challenge school leaders where necessary.
Governors conducted link visits to observe the work of the schools in action and to participate in discussions with the schools’ leaders.
Governors and School Leaders are committed to ensuring that all pupils in our diverse community are supported in achieving the greatest possible outcomes across the whole curriculum. The board spent time considering the curriculum to ensure both breadth and balance and implementation across the year groups. The board received reports from school leaders and feedback from pupils and parents, assuring governors of the effectiveness of the curriculum offered across the federation.
The federated structure offers the opportunity for our schools to work collaboratively, bringing new ideas to the federation; it also provides opportunities for staff to develop professionally through the sharing of ideas.
Each of the schools within the federation retain their distinct legal identities with regard to such matters as admissions, budget, performance tables and OFSTED inspections.
Key examples of collaborative working include:
As part of our staff professional development and federation working, teachers from across the schools meet half termly for their year group planning session. Teachers work collaboratively to plan exciting units of learning for the following half term. Curriculum pedagogy and research relating to teaching and learning practices is discussed and implemented to further develop learning within the classroom.
Spring Writing Project
A writing project was organised and led by 2nd year teachers from across the federation. The project ran for a week in each school at the end of the spring term. The pedagogy behind it was to demonstrate the impact of experiential learning on writing. Children participated in a shared experience and had to use their enquiry skills to determine the outcome. They also had choice in deciding the genre of writing to present. This project also formed part of staff action research which is completed each year. This year’s project ‘Who Done It?’ set the children the task of investigating an ‘incident’ which had occurred in each school; this had resulted in messed up offices, missing trophies and reward tokens. The children at each school worked with great enthusiasm to investigate and solve the mystery; interviewing potential suspects, conversing with their classmates and trying to piece all the clues together. ‘I loved being a detective, it was so much fun. We had to look at all the evidence and piece together the information to find out who and why did such a terrible thing.’ (Year 4 pupil, Newport).
It is a priority for Governors to ensure that our children have the opportunity to have their voices and opinions heard and one of the most effective ways to do this is through Pupil Parliament. It promotes pupil leadership opportunities, enabling children to develop valuable communication, organisation and debating skills and grow into confident adults. This structure is an ideal opportunity for our children to be actively involved in the way that the school is run and to explore the British value of Democracy. It provides opportunities for pupils to communicate their opinions as well as influence the decisions that are made on their behalf. Pupils relish the opportunity to become a greater part of school life and enjoy making their voices heard.
The Pupil Parliaments spent time focusing on this year’s anti bullying topic ‘Choose Respect’. Members of the Pupil Parliament from each school came together to think about bullying and reviewed the federation’s pupil charter. The parliamentarians planned a number of activities for their classmates to take part in on our Anti Bullying Day which was held on 12th November across the federation.
"Anti-bullying day is about caring for other people and being respectful" said Hafsah in Jupiter class, Year 4 at Dawlish school
Thinking About Bullying Workshops were also held for parents in each school.
In addition, Pupil Parliaments have worked hard preparing for the Waltham Forest Borough of Culture celebrations. The four Opossum schools met and collaboratively came up with some creative and interesting ideas to celebrate the diverse nature of our schools and the borough.
Year 5 Photography Project
The annual Year 5 photography project took place during November. All Year 5 classes from across the federation, and from a neighbouring primary school, worked with our artist in residence Andy Rumball, a Berlin based photographer.
‘Taking part in the project has allowed me to understand that the rich cultures that exist in our small communities can connect us and make us one.’ (Y5 pupil).
Year 4 A-Z of Values Art Project
Year 4 pupils across the Opossum Federation had the opportunity to work with established artists to create their own pieces of art, representing values. Sessions explored children’s understanding of values, particularly those which are recognised as British values.
We had a really fun day and learnt about British Values and why we should treat others equally – (Year 4 pupil, Oakhill)
Year 5 RE Conference
Selected Year 5 pupils from all four schools in the Opossum Federation were involved in a Junior RE Conference. The children had the opportunity to work as a team completing tasks that explored what peace means. Children engaged in deeper thinking when discussing the question ‘Can we be happy with very little?’
It was loads of fun and a good learning experience for all involved. We were inspired to do more.’ (Year 5 pupil, Thorpe Hall)
UFA Parent Programme
The UFA – Helping my Child to Learn programme is now offered to parents at all 4 schools and has once again been successful and appreciated by parents.
The importance of emotional health and well-being is recognised by the Governing Body and all of our schools work to promote positive mental health through our PSHE learning and wider school curriculum. Staff from across the federation have received mindfulness training and spend time exploring positive attitudes and values through our learning in a range of subjects.
The Resources Committee reviewed the maintenance and development of all our school premises, and made decisions about how the schools should use their budget.
After careful consideration and review the Resources Committee and Full Governing Body approved the 2019-2020 budget plans and SEN budgets for Dawlish, Newport, Oakhill and Thorpe Hall Primary schools; we are pleased to report, that due to collaborative working across the Federation, including a central team managing finance and Human Resources, we have achieved best value and have set a balanced budget for 2019-2020.
Over the course of the year a number of policies were reviewed and ratified by the governing body, according to its regular cycle of business.
We thank parents/carers for your support with regard to the Attendance Policy. As you are aware, due to Government legislation, schools are unable to authorise term time holidays; the Governing Body recognises the inconvenience that this may cause for some parents. We are very pleased that attendance figures at the schools have improved this year however it remains an area of concern as too many pupils are persistently absent in each school, with attendance below the 90% threshold. Ensuring that all the children in our care receive their full entitlement to education, through good attendance (at least 96%), remains a priority for the governing board. Governors fully support school leaders’ actions to improve attendance which include: referral for fixed penalty notices, meetings with individual parents, pupil rewards for good attendance and links with partner agencies such as Early Help and School Nurses.
Minutes of Governing Body and Committee meetings are public documents – parents may contact the school office if they would like to see any of the minutes of the meetings.
The governing body
You can see the full list of governors and their attendance at meetings on the Governors’ page of the school websites.