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Chair's and Vice Chair's Round Table 28.11.23

By Mary Foreman, Chair of Trustees, OWN Trust

On a cold and wintry night at the end of November, I was delighted to welcome OWN Trustee Vice Chair of Trustees Sally Williams, Chair of Governors Kirsty Cleworth and Ashleigh Berenyckj, and Vice Chair Adam Green to our first round table of this academic year.

Finding time to attend any meeting, let alone virtual meetings, is a challenge for those who choose to devote their time to public service, so it was a pleasure to spend time listening to accounts of how the first governing committee meetings of the year had proceeded and what the successes and challenges were.

OWN Trust has moved to a different way for headteachers to report to governing committees and this has been very well received. The chairs felt governors had a much stronger voice as they had direct input into agenda items by contributing their own reports rather than listening to the headteacher reporting. Of course, this puts greater emphasis (and challenge) on the local governing committee to be actively involved through visiting their school.

Naturally governing bodies considered how the Ofsted reports from last term impacted on the schools and how they are continuing to move forward. All three schools were inspected within a two-week window. With one school, Woodston, having a new headteacher in place since September – Becky Ford – and a new chair of governors – there is a wonderful opportunity to continue to build on the strong foundation Jacki Mitchell laid. Ashleigh has a clear intent to facilitate increased involvement from the parental community. Thanks must be given to Gordon Knibbs for his commitment and service as chair of governors prior to this.

There was a strong sense that our schools were being ambitious in their development plans, instead of playing safe after their visits from Ofsted. All GOOD in July!

A further discussion of the Trust staff well-being survey took place. OWN Trust is very clear staff well-being is pivotal in making sure we are an employer of choice for all employees no matter what their role. The feedback from our chairs will ensure OWN Trust shares all the commonalities and differences in the responses from staff so we make sure good practices and areas for improvement are known.

We moved on to discuss whether there were any barriers to schools in the trust moving forward. Our chairs and vice chairs were confident the new leadership structures within each school, as well as the role of executive deputies, would be embedded and highly effective. There was evidence that the flexibility of support our executive deputies provided across the three schools was already highly effective this term. New leadership structures within each school are also having a positive impact.

An interesting discussion about the growth of schools and the Trust ensued. All attendees shared their knowledge of building expansion (housing) within the catchment areas (and beyond) and how this may affect the number of children on role. We also discussed our capacity for growth of OWN Trust itself and I shared details of how we have been called upon by the local authority within Peterborough to provide support to non-academy schools within their sphere of influence as they have no capacity to provide it.

Our commitment to working closely with all our stakeholders continues. Communicating with and listening to our local governing committees is essential as we expand our role within and across schools in Peterborough.

Finally, we discussed Primary School Performance measures for 23 – 24 and how this may impact on each school within our trust. The lack of progress accountability for schools with very disadvantaged intakes may have a significant effect where there is a lack of Key Stage 1 baseline data after COVID-19.