The Governing Board at Downsway Primary School is responsible for ensuring the school provides the best possible education for its pupils. The Board acts as a corporate body providing strategic leadership working closely with the Headteacher and members of the Senior Leadership Team. As Downsway is a local authority maintained school, the Board is directly accountable to West Berkshire Council.
As you will see from the governance section of the school’s website, we are a diverse group of people, mainly volunteers, who bring a wide range of skills, experience and knowledge. We are completely committed to the school and are very ambitious for the children and the community which we serve.
As a Board, our core functions are:
- To determine the school’s religious ethos and values
- To devise a vision and plan for the long-term future of the school
- To hold school leaders to account for educational performance of the school and its pupils’, and the performance management of staff
- To oversee the financial performance of the school making sure it’s money is well spent.
The Board is also responsible for appointing the Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher. The Headteacher is responsible for the operational management of the school and for implementing the strategic framework established by the Board.
The Board reconstituted during 2017 and consists of 9 governors The Headteacher is a permanent member of the Board by virtue of her position. Members of staff elect a single staff governor. Two governors are elected by the parents of the school and one governor is appointed by the local authority. Four co-opted governors are appointed by the Board. All appointments are based on the skills and experience required in order to discharge our duties and responsibilities. Governors are appointed for a 4- year term of office. From time to time, non-voting associate members may also be appointed for their particular skills. Our current Instrument of Government can be found on the school’s website.
Currently, the board has none of the following:
- governors with governance roles in other institutions;
- governors with material interests arising from relationships between governors or between governors and school staff;
- associate members.
Governing Board Structure
Our work is largely conducted at board level with the exception of one sub-committee, the Headteacher’s Performance Management Panel. Terms of reference can be found on the school’s website.
A key component of our work is to drive and secure educational improvement by holding school leaders to account for school performance. We work with senior leaders to devise an annual school development plan (SDP) which sets out the key improvement priorities and key actions for the academic year. Governors regularly monitor school performance against the priorities in the SDP A summary of the key priorities for the current academic year can be found on the school’s website.
Governors work with the Headteacher to devise an annual self-evaluation report for the school. The school’s performance is evaluated against the Ofsted Inspection Framework and the results of this activity drive school improvement planning. Our self-evaluation work is informed by discussions with our local authority School Improvement Advisor (SIA).
The Board receives regular reports from our SIA, the SIA provides robust external verification of the work of school leaders.
Budgets and Target Setting
The Board sets an annual budget which is used to drive school improvement. Governors carefully review and monitor budget spend to ensure that resources are used to bring about improvements and to deliver a curriculum that is both relevant and fit for purpose.
We set challenging and aspirational targets for pupils and staff, including the Headteacher, and we monitor how the school performs against these targets.
The Board is responsible for providing performance management for the Headteacher and a panel of governors conducts this in conjunction with an external advisor. The Headteacher is responsible for setting performance management targets for all of the staff and provides pay award recommendations, based on performance, to the Board for review and approval.
In order to discharge our statutory duties, we conduct an annual audit, including a website review, to ensure compliance with various legal and educational regulations.
We also set the strategic framework in which the school operates by determining policy. We review each policy for compliance and also check that policies are implemented properly and appropriately.
Governors are very much involved in the life of the school and visit regularly. Each term, we devise a schedule of visits. Governors sign up to at least one visit per term. The format of these visits is very varied: meetings with curriculum leaders and individual staff; visits to School Council; Pupil Voice; classroom visits; learning walks etc. In this way, governors are able to gain first hand evidence of progress against the School Development Plan and the Governors’ Strategic Plan, gain a fuller insight into the teaching and learning which takes place and get to know staff and pupils. Our ‘Rich Moments’ visits capture some of the many ways in which staff bring the curriculum to life and make learning interesting and exciting. The reports, which individual governors prepare and share with the rest of the board at our meetings, make clear links with the SDP; GSP; National Curriculum; British Values; Our Values etc. They also enhance the understanding of all governors and form a basis for discussion
The Safeguarding governor routinely reviews the school's single central record for staff and regularly meets with the Designated Safeguarding Lead. The Health and Safety governor undertakes termly monitoring walks across the school site and our SEND and Pupil Premium governors meet with our Inclusion Manager to discuss provision for our potentially more vulnerable groups of children
The Board acts as a “critical friend” to the school leaders by providing a blend of support and challenge. This means we routinely ask searching questions, engage in healthy discussion and debate whilst working together to create viable and sustainable solutions. We offer encouragement and support and act as a “sounding board”. Governance provides accountability for the school by providing a vital check and balance mechanism.
In line with government expectations, we monitor individual governor attendance at meetings during the year and publish details of governor’s attendance on the school’s website.
We maintain a register of governors’ business interests for each academic year. This is published on the school’s website. Governors are also expected to declare any business interests at the start of each meeting.
Details regarding individual governors are published on a national database maintained by the Department for Education called “Get information on schools”.
Development and Training
Governors recognise that they can only collaborate effectively with others in ensuring the school delivers the best possible education for our children if the governing board itself works effectively and is a knowledgeable, coherent team equipped with the necessary skills. In line with guidance from the Department of Education, we have devised an annual development plan which outlines how we hope to develop as a corporate body. Progress against the plan is regularly reviewed at meetings and a copy of the plan is published on the school’s website.
Governors complete a skills audit which identifies areas of experience and knowledge and also highlights skills gaps.
Governors are expected to grow and develop professionally and attend training sessions provided by the local authority and other providers. Governors also have access to a specialist website called ‘The Key for School Governors’. Governor attendance at training sessions is recorded by our Clerk to Governors and monitored by the Chair of Governors.
The Board reviews its effectiveness by completing an annual evaluation of its performance against the criteria in the Ofsted school’s inspection framework. The outcome of this exercise is used to identify areas for development and to inform the Board’s annual action plan.
The Board is supported by a highly skilled and competent accredited Clerk to Governors. The minutes of all meetings are carefully recorded and copies are held in the school’s office. The Clerk has a number of key duties, including: advising the Board on procedural and legal matters; maintaining a timetable for policy review; compiling a register of governors’ business interests; and maintaining a log of governor activity including school visits and training attendance. The Clerk also ensures that governor information for inclusion in a national database is submitted to the Department for Education on a timely basis. Minutes of governing board meetings are available to interested parties on request. Please contact the school office.
Chair of Governors
The Chair can be contacted, via the Clerk, using the e-mail address below or in writing (delivered to the main school office).
Governing Board Minutes
Minutes from the governing board meetings are available to interested parties on request to the school. Please contact the office for further information.