Blog#1 September 2018

The first Governor meeting of the year was certainly busy!

We re-elected our Chair (Roy Bexon) and Vice-Chair (Stuart Perkins) – and I’ve promised to get some photos for our website so you know who we all are without us having to wear special badges/hats/signposts. I’ll do that on Governor day (November 22) when we’ll all be in school for some or all of the day: information gathering, looking at books, having fun, helping and getting to know teachers and children alike a little better.

We were grateful that Matt Sambrook (Head of Exeter House and Chief Executive of the Somerset Road Education Trust) was able to take time to come and meet us. He explained the background about the Trust, its vision for the future, and addressed some of the questions we had. His passion for children’s learning, his dedication to the highest standards in education, and his commitment to the schools at the top of the hill shone through. Some of the questions require more information to be fully answered, but it is great to be able to have conversation and to build working relationships.

Despite the tight agenda, we, of course, talked about the back gate. We recognise that this has proved to be a deeply divisive issue. No-one wants to see this community fractured and angry. The school works in partnership with parents always with the aim of improving lives for the extraordinary children who go to St Mark’s. However, safeguarding rests, ultimately, with one person, the lead safeguarding officer – Mr Flemington.

All governors had an opportunity to read the more detailed explanation that was shared last week with parents. These decisions do not rest with the Governors, but, after listening, we believe that every decision made was made carefully and in the best interests of children. We will again look at use of the front entrance, traffic and safety on our Governor day. We appeal to all users of the site to be very careful.

Communication is also an issue here. There was an email written and issued to all parents in July. Sadly, through a failure in the system, and not through a fault in the sender, the email did not distribute. This failing was not discovered until late in August. We are sorry about that. Governors challenged communication strategies. We understand that writing any earlier to alert the community that there was a safeguarding concern with the back gate could have increased risk to children.

We talked about last year’s SAT results; and reiterated that an increase from 41% to 77% of children achieving expected standards across all the test areas is a fantastic achievement from everyone involved. Leaders, teachers, children, parents all: thank you. We have ambitious targets for next year. Targets or not, we have 361 amazing reasons to continue in our efforts to improve.

Lots to look forward to, and we’re looking forward to the year ahead.

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