Governance Statement

Academic year ending July 2021

In accordance with the Government’s requirement for all governing bodies, the 3 core strategic functions of the Writtle Infant School Governing Body are:

  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;
  • Holding the Headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils;
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.

Governance arrangements

The role of the Governing Body is to give strategic direction to the School, provide constructive challenge in constantly endeavouring to raise standards and to ensure finances are well managed.

The Governing Body was reconstituted in 2015 in accordance with Government requirements and is made up of 2 staff governors (including the Headteacher), 4 elected Parent Governors, 1 Local Authority Governor and 5 Co-opted Governors. Co-opted governors are appointed by the Governing Body and are people who, in the opinion of the Governing Body, have the skills required to contribute to the effective governance and success of the school.

The full Governing Body meets once each term, we also have a number of committees to consider different aspects of the school in detail.  At Writtle Infant School we have the Finance, Premises and Personnel Committee, and the Pay Committee. When urgent matters dictate we hold occasional extraordinary meetings to deal with those other matters. We also have committees that meet if required to consider pupil discipline and staffing matters.

Our strategic focus is to govern our School to provide the best possible education, wellbeing, pastoral care and safeguarding for each and every child and to achieve the best for our children. To help us accomplish this we encourage all our parents and carers and the local community to continue to work with us to promote our School. We want all our children to be happy, confident and knowledgeable and make informed decisions, whilst enjoying independent learning and feel valued in a safe and positive environment.

Governors’ primary role is to challenge teaching and learning, to monitor the strategic direction of the school and ensure finances are properly managed. As Governors we regularly compare value for money by benchmarking our school against similar schools. We monitor the central Sports Premium and Pupil Premium expenditure and review the provision of classroom support and Special Education Needs Welfare.

Under normal circumstances Governors conduct regular monitoring visits to the school and at least termly attend curriculum related school assemblies, all governors jointly attend in-house CPD sessions, when school improvement and other key issues are discussed and regularly attend external CPD courses. However, with Covid, this past year has been nothing like normal but we have not let that deter us and regular monitoring of school activates have been carried out remotely via “Zoom” and although it has not been possible for Governors to attend termly curriculum related school assemblies we have managed to attend individual assemblies remotely.

There is a list of Governors with the number of courses attended remotely at the end of this statement.

We continue to support and nurture our Key Values, developing school improvement and reviewing school policies.

We had some changes to Governor Membership during the last year – We said goodbye to Mrs. Suzy Newman and Mr Tim Williams and we thank them for their invaluable assistance. We welcomed new Parent Governors, Mr Firat Yildizgoren and Mrs Elizabeth Garrod who both joined us for a 3 year term of office.

We were pleased to note the re-appointment of Mrs. Joan Gentle as our Local Authority Governor with effect from 22 May 2021 for a consecutive term of 4-years duration and the re-appointment of co-opted Governor Mrs Marianne Parish, for a further 4 years. Appointment of one new co-opted Governor to bring us up to full strength will take place as soon as practical next year.

Safeguarding

The Governing Body is committed to:

  • Safeguarding and promoting the welfare and safety, and the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of children and young people;
  • Promoting equality of opportunity and community cohesion where the diversity of different backgrounds and circumstances is appreciated and positively valued;
  • The fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs;
  • Expecting all staff, volunteers and other workers to share this commitment.

All Governors have received Safeguarding and PREVENT policy training. The regular annual staff safeguarding training to which all Governors are invited and attend, takes place in early September 2021, along with training on the recovery curriculum at Governors meetings.

Covid-19: The Headteacher provides regular updates on the evolving situation with Covid-19 as directed by Government and Local Authority guidance. We thank our hardworking Headteacher and staff for the extensive arrangements and risk assessments they have undertaken that enabled full school reopening in September 2020. Parents are comprehensively updated on all Covid-19 arrangements and any subsequent issues via ParentMail.

It has continued to be a challenging period for staff over the past year, with some experiencing more disruption than others due to their personal circumstances. All staff are receiving support during this challenging period and careful consideration has been given to capacity, workload, and welfare. I have to thank our Headteacher and senior leadership team in going above and beyond in providing support to those who have needed it.

Wellbeing is included as a priority in the School Improvement Plan for 2021/22. Measures are taken to promote staff wellbeing, particularly in these difficult times, and we continue to ensure that the overall level of communications with staff outside of working hours is avoided to support a positive work-life balance.

Governors are united in thanking the Headteacher, and all staff, for their outstanding efforts in maintaining a positive and comprehensive educational offer during this exceptionally difficult period.

Governors place great importance on safeguarding and equality. We have a Nominated Safeguarding Governor in Mrs. Bobbie Charlick, who constantly enquires on the wellbeing of staff and pupils and gives a termly report to Governors on all safeguarding and equality issues. The Chair and Mrs. Charlick have carried out and recorded termly checks of DBS procedures throughout the School, together with monitoring all safeguarding incidents and ensure all such incidents are followed up to a satisfactory conclusion, all carried out remotely within Covid-19 Government regulations.

All volunteers and helpers in the school are DBS checked and attend safeguarding training by the Headteacher even though most have been unable to actually visit the School.

Governors’ special duties

Our Governor responsible for looked after children, children with medical needs and vulnerable children is Mrs. Gentle.

Our Governor responsible for children with special education needs and inclusion is Mrs Burton.

Mrs. Booker and Mr. Bray are our joint Health and Safety Governors. Termly health and safety checks of the premises have been carried out by Mrs. Castell and Mr. Turner, the school’s site manager and they report their finding to Governors at the termly meetings.

Mrs Booker is also our Governor responsible for mental health needs and mindfulness.

Recent work and future objectives

In spite of financial restrictions, compounded by the Covid-19 effect, by diligent management, we still manage to fund release of our Deputy Headteacher Mrs. Tracey Wilson for two non-teaching days per week to continue to take a greater management role to the benefit of our supervision structure without disadvantaging teaching in any way.

We continue to focus on regularly updating the School Development Plan to actively promote continuous school improvement, our most recent OFSTED inspection in December 2017 gave the school a ‘Good’ rating. This outcome was due to the hard work and efforts of staff, pupils and the Governing Body, the OFSTED report published on our web site has many positive comments in respect of all participants, both pupils and the school team; we continue to maintain and improve on that high standard for the future.

The previous OFSTED cycle indicated that the next inspection was due from December 2021 onwards but due to the Covid-19 effect that is now unlikely. OFSTED paused full inspections until January 2021, they have however carried out remote monitoring in order to review the use of catch-up funding and schools implementation of the recovery curriculum to ensure it is well spent.

We work with the Junior School to improve transition between the two Schools. Towards the end of their time in the Infant School pupils are invited to spend time in the Junior School taking part in lessons and activities to ensure an easy transition to their new school in September.
The new curriculum is now embedded and the Headteacher provides termly updated data reports, governors analyse key data showing the results of pupil achievement and progress, so that we can be sure that the school is on track to fulfil its ambitious targets for all pupils.

The Headteacher provides updates on the ongoing development of the curriculum in the context of the OFSTED inspection framework and plans are in place to evidence full coverage and progress, whilst retaining creative elements and ensuring that planning remains engaging. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 crisis, the formal end-of-year assessments for summer 2021 had to be cancelled. Assessments will be carried out as soon as practical when schools reopen in September.

We also pay particular attention to our vulnerable groups of children and focus on how prudently the Pupil Premium and Sports Grant is being spent by the school and what impact this has on their outcomes, ensuring continuity of the benefits provided and concentrating on closing the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children.

The Finance, Premises and Personnel Committee in consultation with the Headteacher looks at the maintenance and development of the school premises, and makes decisions about how the school should use the budget and make best use of staff allocation.

In the 2021 summer term, the Finance and Premises Committee approved the 2021/22 budget plan for the school and the school is in a sound financial position. We are pleased to report that notwithstanding the constraints of the Covid-19 crisis we can still run all our classes with qualified and dedicated teachers and we give our thanks for the efforts of our Headteacher and all staff in stepping up to the plate when needed to fill any gaps caused by temporary staff shortages in isolating due to Covid-19.

We are also still able to support an adequate number of well-trained Teaching Assistants, ensuring we give the best possible support to all our pupils guaranteeing they are adding value to pupils’ education.

We are constantly reviewing and agreeing school policies, of which there are many and we have a continuous Policies Review Programme, this year, among many others, we have again considered a number of key policies, including Anti Bullying, Behaviour Management, Child Protection, Concerns and Complaints, Data Protection, Internet Access, the Prevent Action Plan, Special Education Needs and Safeguarding (Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) and Recruitment Policy.

The Governing Body places high importance on any GDPR issues and is presented with all GDPR audit reports, we are again pleased to note that very few minor actions are identified which are rapidly progressed.

Our Attendance Policy, continues to be in line with legislation changes that does not allow schools to authorise term time holidays, as with previous years, this policy works effectively to the benefit of the children. The Governing Body recognises the problem that may cause for some parents, but we are very pleased that as a consequence of the support and understanding of parents, attendance figures at the school up to the Covid-19 pause, were close to our target and have improved considerably since normal attendance resumed.

Policies, Minutes of Governing Body and Committee meetings are public documents. You can ask to inspect any of them by calling at the school office or you can download policies from our web site.

Governors’ current achievements and future plans

Works carried out during the last year have included:

  • The remedial works to the boiler room are now complete.
  • Consideration is currently being given to decarbonisation adaptions. If progressed, works would be undertaken to both the Infant and Junior schools and were expected to include upgrades to windows and the installation of solar panels.
  • The PE cupboards have been painted.
  • Discussions have been held with the adjoining landowner regarding the trees adjoining our playground requesting the possibility we jointly manage/remove these trees as they are affecting our playground areas and his land and crops, further contact will be made after the current harvest.

Regular staff walk rounds take place to support the risk assessment and management of the arrangements for the pandemic. Once feasible, expected to be autumn 2021, Governors would also re-join the termly health and safety walk rounds.

Governors are pleased to report our 2020/21 Budget still shows a reasonable level of carry forward to take us into next year, all thanks to the prudent and shrewd management of our Headteacher and our Finance manager Mrs Capps.

Future planned works:

The plans for the “Health and Happiness Hub” continue to progress with quotes being obtained for future works, with exploration of the best on-site location for the hub continued; although given approval would need to be sought from the Landlord and planning permission granted, these could restrict possible locations for the hub.  A working party would meet during 2021/22 to continue to progress and develop the project depending on the levels of available funding.
Discussions are ongoing with the Local Authority regarding the installation of a new path and second gate to support social distancing and pick-up/drop-up arrangements.

Writtle Infant School Governing Body during the last academic year, September 2020 to July 2021

Governor Category Date of appointment Term of office Date stepped down
if applicable
By whom appointed
Mrs Natalie Booker Staff 07.11.2018 06.11.2022 Governing Body
Mr Ralph Bray Co-opted 01.04.2019 31.03.2023 Governing Body
Mrs Esther Burton Parent 17.10.2019 16.10.2022 Parent Vote
Mrs Helen Castell Headteacher 01.09.2015 Ex officio Ex officio
Mrs Bobbie Charlick Co-opted 20.05.2019 19.05.2023 Governing Body
Mr Matthew Coffey Parent 17.10.2019 16.10.2022 Parent Vote
Mrs Elizabeth Garrod Parent 24.03.2021 23.03.2024 Parent Vote
Mrs Joan Gentle Local Authority 22.05.2021 21.05.2025 Local Authority
Mrs. Suzy Newman Parent 29.10.2017 28.10.2021 16.09.2020 Parent vote
Mrs. Marianne Parish Co-opted 01.09.2020 31.08.2024 Governing Body
Mr. Tim Williams Parent 18.11.2019 17.11.2022 01.02.2021 Parent Vote
Mrs. Tracey Wilson Co-opted 01.12.2016 30.11.2024 Governing Body
Mr. Firat Yildizgoren Parent 20.01.2021 19.01.2024 Parent Vote

Governors’ roles and responsibilities

Name of Governor Sub-Committees Role & Responsibilities
Natalie Booker Health and Safety
Mindfulness
Ralph Bray
(Chair)
Finance, Premises and Personnel

Headteacher PMR

Finance

Health and safety/Educational Visits

Behaviour

Data

Computing and website

Esther Burton Finance, Premises and Personnel

Wellbeing governor

SEN/Inclusion

EYFS

Helen Castell (Headteacher) Attends all meetings N/A
Bobbie Charlick Safeguarding

Headteacher PMR

Finance, Premises and personnel

Pay committee

Year One
Matthew Coffey Finance, Premises and Personnel Science

PE/Healthy Schools

Elizabeth Garrod Yet to be allocated Art/DT
Joan Gentle Finance, Premises and Personnel (Chair)

Pay committee

Headteacher PMR

Attendance

Link Governor

Medical needs

Vulnerable children, including Looked After and disadvantaged children

English

Year Two

PSHE

Marianne Parish Finance, Premises and personnel

Pay committee

Finance governor

Maths

Finance

Tracey Wilson Finance, Premises & Personnel
Firat Yildizgoren Yet to be allocated History/Geography/RE

Committees to which school governors belong and record of attendance during the year to July 2021

Governors have excellent attendance at meetings and we have never cancelled a meeting because it was not “quorate” (the number of governors needed to ensure that legal decisions can be made). See details of individual governors’ attendance at meetings below.

Governors (n/a = not on that committee) Governing Body possible/attended Finance, Premises & Personnel Committee possible/attended Pay Committee possible/attended
Natalie Booker (Staff) 3/0 n/a n/a
Ralph Bray (Co-opted) 3/3 (Chair) 4/4  1/1
Esther Burton (Parent) 3/3 4/3 n/a
Helen Castell (Headteacher) 3/3 4/4 1/1
Bobbie Charlick (Co-opted) 3/3 4/3 1/1
Matt Coffey (Parent) 3/3 4/3 (Vice Chair) n/a
Elizabeth Garrod (Parent) 1/1 n/a n/a
Joan Gentle (Local Authority) 3/3 (Vice Chair) 4/4 (Chair) 1/1 (Vice Chair)
Marianne Parish (Co-opted) 3/3 4/4 1/1 (Chair)
Tim Williams (Parent) 1/0 n/a n/a
Tracey Wilson (Deputy Headteacher, Co-opted) 3/3 4/4 n/a
Firat Yildizgoren 2/2 n/a n/a

Courses attended by current serving Governors (both in-house and external) over last academic year.

Governors who are members of staff excluded, separately listed in Headteacher’s Reports.

Governor CPD Courses attended Details
Ralph Bray  8 Safeguarding update; Headteacher’s wellbeing; Mental health and Wellbeing provision; Supporting emotional wellbeing; Meeting the needs of disadvantaged children; Safeguarding review; Introduction to new EYFS curriculum; Introduction to new Phonics. 
Esther Burton  3 Headteacher’s wellbeing; Mental health and Wellbeing provision; SEND Developing the skulls for Governors
Bobbie Charlick  3 Safeguarding update; Safeguarding review; Introduction to new EYFS curriculum.
Matt Coffey  2 Safeguarding; Induction for New Governors.
Elizabeth Garrod 2 Induction for New Governors; Overview of Safeguarding.
Joan Gentle  5 Safeguarding update; Headteacher’s wellbeing; Safeguarding review; Introduction to new EYFS curriculum; Introduction to new Phonics.
Firat Yildizgoren 5 Mental health and Wellbeing provision; Finance and Budgets; Safeguarding review; Introduction to new EYFS curriculum; Introduction to new Phonics.

Register of Governors’ Relevant Business and Pecuniary Interests

Name Type/ Category of Governor Term of Office expiry date Business Interests 2019/20 Personal relationships/ interests 2019/20 Involvement at other educational establishments
Natalie Booker Staff Governor 06/11/2022 Teaching Assistant at Writtle Infant School None None
Ralph Bray Chair of Governors Co-Opted Governor 31/03/2023 None Partner is Vice-Chair of Governors None
Esther Burton Parent Governor 16/10/2022 Director of Dragonfly Education Consultancy None Employed by Dragonfly Education Consultancy
Helen Castell Headteacher N/A Headteacher Writtle Infant School    Member of NAHT None None
Bobbie Charlick Co-Opted Governor 19/05/2023 None Daughter employed by Writtle Infant School None
Matt Coffey Parent Governor 16/10/2022 Teacher at Fitzwimarc  School    Member of NASUWT None Employed by Fitzwimarc  School
Elizabeth Garrod Parent Governor 23/03/2024 None None None
Joan Gentle Vice-Chair of Governors              Local Authority Governor 21/05/2025 None Partner is Chair of Governors None
Marianne Parish Co-Opted Governor 31/08/2024 None None None
Tracey Wilson Co-Opted Governor 30/11/2020 Teacher at Writtle Infant School    Member of NEU None None
Firat Yildizgoren Parent Governor 19/01/2024 None None None

The above Governance arrangements should include at least the following information:

  • details of the structure and responsibilities of the governing body and its committees
  • information about each governor, including their:
    • full name, date of appointment, term of office, date they stepped down (where applicable) and who appointed them (in accordance with the governing body’s instrument of government)
    • business and financial interests
    • governance roles in other educational institutions
    • any material interests arising from relationships between governors or relationships between governors and school staff (including spouses, partners and close relatives)
    • attendance record at governing body and committee meetings over the last academic year.

Governing Body

Chair of Governors

Mr. Ralph Bray (co-opted)

Local Authority Governor

Mrs. Joan Gentle

Parent Governors

Mrs. Esther Burton
Mr. Matthew Coffey
Mrs. Elizabeth Garrod
Mr. Firat Yildizgoren

Headteacher Governor

Mrs. Helen Castell

Staff Governor

Mrs. Natalie Booker

Co-opted Governors

Mrs. Marianne Parish
Mrs. Bobbie Charlick
Mrs. Tracey Wilson
Vacancy

Clerk to Governing Body

Hannah Hatchman