Work of the Governing Body Spring 2020
It has been another busy exciting period for all at Kirkleatham Hall School continuing to help all our learners to achieve their full potential in a safe and happy environment. The comments below identify involvement of governors in all areas of the school activity.
Governors monitor the number of children who require additional support due to identified concerns or additional vulnerabilities. They have continued to update their training on safeguarding along with key staff. Governors meet regularly with staff who hold specific responsibilities for safeguarding, in particular the Family Welfare Leader. Lucy works very closely with the Designated Safeguarding Leader and 3 deputies to ensure that all our families receive the support they need. Lucy also represents Kirkleatham at authority wide “Safeguarding in Education” meetings while the Head Teacher is a member of the Local Safeguarding Children Board and represents all vulnerable learners across the Local Authority.
Governors have visited classrooms as part of a Learning Walk helping to understand that teachers were planning to meet individual pupil needs using a wide range of strategies and interventions. They saw evidence of Individual Education Plans, Personalised topic maps, Sensory Diets (by Tree Tops Occupational Therapists) Individual timetables and health assessments. They identified that opportunities to do such a walk would be essential for external inspectors to put into context the needs of our learners and the lengths that staff have to go to meet individual pupil needs.
Over the last year we have appointed a further number of Teaching Assistants and a support staff. The quantity and quality of applications has been exceptional at a time when many schools both locally and nationally struggle to recruit and retain staff. Many applicants talk about our excellent reputation and are keen to join us. The selection process is very robust and involves Senior leaders, Governors and students. I am pleased to say that all appointments have been extremely successful.
An ongoing issues within school is the limited space within the existing building. Governors continue to work with the local authority which identified the limited capacity for SEND school places meaning that at present there can only be places for children with the most complex needs. The authority acknowledged the need to work with the school to increase capacity and have provided funds for an architect to look at possible options to develop the site, to improve the classroom teaching spaces, but also to provide additional therapeutic spaces for interventions etc. Governors did note that the site and surrounding area did not allow for much more due to restrictions related to some of the options being considered for the Kirkleatham Estate developments. In addition to which, the cost would be likely to very significant.
We have further developed the school site which now allowed the school to introduce Outdoor Learning and Play (OPAL), and working in partnership with the local authority, we acquired some woodland to create a Forest School. Children access OPAL very day during morning break and lunchtimes, and the access to the Forest School is timetabled during the week.
Two members of staff successfully competed in the Hardmoor Challenge, and a number of staff having taken place in local running events. Two session per week now take place in school for staff, Circuits.
Acorns cafe is now becoming well established. As well as providing an opportunity for families to drop in and socialise it now opens to the public every weekday morning from 10.30 until noon, during term time. It also opened during the festival of thrift weekend and was a great success.(I can personally recommend the bacon sandwiches !!) The regular parents coffee mornings also continue thanks to 2 of our parent governors so please look for the dates on the school website and come along as it provides an opportunity to share experiences with other parents in a relaxed atmosphere. The café is also open about 6 times a year, on a Saturday or during holidays for parents / carers and their children.
Managing school budgets continues to be a huge challenge. Governors work with Senior Leaders to try to ensure that we get best value for the money available while doing whatever can be done to ensure that every individual pupil is given the opportunity to achieve their full potential. We have to ensure that the school operates safely and efficiently and still offer experiences both within and beyond the school day with the provision of school clubs, residential holidays and holiday clubs. These are so important to our children, probably more so than in a main stream school.
Like every other school we are still waiting to find what the implications might be from the new National Funding Formula.
We are also mindful of what direction the local authority may go in with regard to generating more places in special schools, and we look to use our resources creatively in supporting our school environment.
Dr. Doug Thomson
Chair of Governors.