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.
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 drives 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 a 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 regularly visit the school. We hold ‘Governor Days’ whereby governors see the school in action and spend time with staff and children. During these days, governors received training from our SIA on how to gather first hand evidence in order to monitor progress made with our SDP. Governors join the Headteacher and SIA on ‘learning walks’ to see evidence of new initiatives in practice. Individual governor also meet with children to conduct ‘pupil voice’ work to gather children’s views on aspects of school life as well as meeting with subject leaders to discuss their work and impact on teaching and learning Governor Days are very successful enabling governors to get to know the school further and to develop relationships with children and staff as well as seeing school improvement in action first hand.
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 has undertaken termly monitoring walks across the school site and our SEND governor meet with our Inclusion Manager to discuss provision for children with special educational needs
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 governor’s business interests and for each academic year which 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
As a Board, we are relentless in our drive and determination to improve the school and to continually build on our successes. 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. The plan is monitored by the Chair of Governors each term 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. The results are used to inform vacancies, new governors are appointed based on the skills required by the Board.
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. All meetings are minuted and copies of minutes 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 Governor’s business interests, and updating 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.