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A Reflection on the work of the Governors 2019-2020

At the end of this most unusual year it is time to review the work of the Governing Body.

Things changed for the whole world this Spring with the Coronavirus pandemic. What did not change was that Governors were still accountable for their statutory duties. What we had to do was find ways to meet those duties whilst the country was in lockdown.

We had a good start though with our usual whole day of training in September, led by Chris Slater from Hampshire Governor Services. We continued to develop our roles and looked at ways to carry out our statutory duties in order to support and challenge the school. We spent time with Sonia looking at the School Strategic Plan, refining it and prioritising areas for our monitoring. This day is invaluable in enabling us to ensure clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction and also meant that plans were in place so all we had to do was adapt them to work safely.

We usually have six full governing body meetings per year, one on our whole day together and the other five in school. However, as this year has been exceptional, we have all learnt how to meet via Zoom (which for some of us has been a whole new revelation). Thank goodness for technology though, as it has enabled us to continue to “meet” safely.  Much of our work takes place in school, meeting staff, students, visiting classes etc and this has obviously not been possible since March. However, we have continued to receive reports from staff and carried out some monitoring via email.

Governors have also been able to look at the website and learning hub so we have seen what teachers are making available to students, which has helped us to hold the Head teacher to account for progress. Governors have been impressed with the range of learning opportunities on the hub and would like to thank the staff for adapting to working in this way so quickly and efficiently.

Our third main responsibility is to ensure financial probity and that money is used most effectively to meet students’ needs. This is something that can be done remotely via email and through zoom meetings. Clearly budgets have had to be amended in the light of changing priorities. Who knew last year that we would need to buy hand sanitiser, face masks and PPE?

We have watched the development of Oskings with great pleasure, this really is an example of inclusion in the best sense of the word. Many thanks go to the staff and students at Kings for their inclusive philosophy and the work everyone has put in to make this initiative so successful.

This has not been an easy time for anyone. As parents and carers, you have had to change the way you live, with children not able to go to school, many parents not able to work and all alongside the worry that comes with such a virus.  It has not been easy for staff either, who have come into teaching in order to work with children and young people face to face. I know many members of staff expressed their delight when they were able to get back into school with their students and see and work with them again.

On behalf of the Governing Body I would like to thank the staff for their amazing efforts to support parents and young people during this time. The range and variety of activities suggested on the learning hub has been impressive, as well as the opportunities for parents and students to engage with teachers via Zoom meetings.

The Senior Leadership Team have worked hard to support parents, students and also staff. I know Sonia has spent many hours on risk assessments ensuring that the school was complying with all “Covid safe” guidance. This has not been an easy task as the guidance has changed so frequently. Governors have been informed and involved at all stages, supporting and challenging where needed.

Governors have continued to access training, keeping our skills and knowledge up to date and two of us attended the Hampshire Governors’ Conference.

During the year we have said goodbye to one Governor:  Cathy Taylor. Cathy has been a Governor at Osborne School for 13 years, since her son Alex was here all those years ago. Cathy has been an incredible Governor, bringing a wealth of knowledge regarding school environments, special needs and safeguarding and she will be missed enormously.

We have welcomed a new Governor:  Charles Radcliffe (parent Governor), Charles has an amazing breadth of experience outside the world of education, which helps to bring balance to our Governing Body.

It is sometimes difficult to see the impact of the Governors. At the end of each meeting we do look at this and ensure that the work we do is valid and has some impact. As Chair I try to communicate with parents and staff occasionally so we are not completely unknown. We do have a page on the website so if you would like to know more about who we are and what we do please look on there or contact me via school.

The Governors are a group of volunteers who bring their various skills together in order to challenge and support the school. Alongside Sonia we want to keep expectations high whilst supporting staff to support students. We are all hoping that September will bring some degree of normality back as schools need to be full of staff and students to really feel like school and operate effectively.

Looking forward to seeing you at a school event next academic year.

Chris Gayler, Chair of Governors.

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