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 Head teacher.
Governing Board Structure
Our work is largely conducted at board level with the exception of two sub-committees, the Raising Attainment Group (RAP) and the Headteacher’s Performance Management Panel. We have devised terms of reference for the Board and sub-committees, copies can be found on the website. The RAP group’s remit is to monitor school performance against the key priorities in the school’s Raising Achievement Plan. This includes reviewing and scrutinising termly pupil performance data and holding school leaders to account for pupil outcomes. The Board and the RAP group meets at least six times per year
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 improvement plan (known as a Raising Attainment Plan) which sets out the key improvement priorities for the academic year together with actions, costing some and responsible persons. 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 work of the school, including pupils’ academic outcomes, are evaluated against the Ofsted Inspection Framework. Our self evaluation work is informed by discussions with our Local Authority School Improvement Advisor. The results of our self evaluation activities are used to inform school improvement planning.
In order to evaluate the work of the school, the Board receives reports from external advisors, including the Local Authority’s School Partnership Advisor and an independent Literacy Consultant. This provides robust external verification of the work of school leaders.
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 play an active role in the life of the school attending school assemblies and joining classes on school visits. We have devised a timetable of governor visits to enable governors to see, at first hand, school improvement priorities being implemented and to discuss with pupils their learning experiences. School leaders report to governors via the RAP group. The Inclusion Manager updates on the implementation and impact of intervention activities for children on the SEN register.
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 for publication 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 action plan which outlines our work for the year ahead together with how we hope to develop and improve 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. 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. Our clerk has a background in education. 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, 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.
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 website.
Chair of Governors
The Chair can be contacted, via the Clerk (Carol Flach), 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.