Governors look back at the school year 2011-12
The role of the governing body is both to support and challenge the head teacher and staff, working together to ensure we provide the very best education for our pupils in a safe and nurturing environment.
The last school year flew by, as it always does, with a great deal to celebrate and a continuing focus on improving standards and making our school a place where our children have many exciting opportunities and experiences.
The year began with the drafting of a new school development plan. Parents, staff, children and governors were asked for their input and ideas and MrsMagiera outlined the feedback received in the Spring 2012 Newsletter to parents. Governors agreed the new plan at the full governors meeting on the 8th March. The plan outlines the areas which school will focus on and develop over the next 3 years, Governors review progress on these areas for development at their termly meetings with MrsMagiera and Mrs Parr.
Progress and attainment
National tests, Standard Assessment Tests, at Key Stage 1, show continuous improvement over the last 4 years for Reading, Writing and Maths. Whilst 70% of children are below National Age related expectations on entering school at the start of reception, by the end of Key stage 1 they are in line with National Average Scores in each subject area.
At Key Stage 2 our SATs results also show significant improvement, progress in English is particularly pleasing with 91% making the expected 2 levels progress whilst in Key Stage 2 and 83% achieving level 4+, compared to a national average figure of 84% making 2 levels progress and 80% achieving Level 4+. Like many other Cheshire West Schools maths continues to be a focus for improvement with 70% of Year 6 children achieving a level 4+.
Mrs Kenyon provided information to all Governors about the ways in which children were assessed and their progress tracked at our Full Governors meeting in March, we were impressed with the thorough way in which children were assessed and how this information was used to plan their future learning. MrsMagiera and her senior leadership team check progress regularly to ensure all children are on track and any issues or problems are identified promptly and dealt with. Interventions such as ‘Every Child a Reader’ and ‘Better reading partners’ have been very successful and ‘Reciprocal Reading’ will be used across both Key Stages this year following a successful trial in Years 2 and 3/4.
Miss Preston, Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator, worked with teachers, teaching assistants and parents to ensure that children with special needs are provided with the help they need. Their individual learning plans and interventions have meant that the attainment gap between SEN children and none SEN children has narrowed significantly.
An exciting curriculum
Governors visit school on a regular basis, seeing for themselves the hard work and dedication of our staff and how much the children enjoy their learning. Our creative curriculum has had a very positive impact, engaging the children as they cover all the national curriculum subjects whilst following their themed learning journey each half term. ‘Wow days’ ensure visitors to school and trips out are regular occurences, for examplethe visit of a Viking warrior to Mr Rushton’s class in the autumn and a trip to Knowsley safari park by Reception in the summer, there are too many more to list them all here! Our new curriculum is working so well that it is being recommended as good practice to other schools in Cheshire West and several schools have already visited to see what is happening at Witton Church Walk.
Many other opportunities have been grasped to ensure our children have chance to take part in a host of enriching activities. Year 6 enjoyed the outdoors with ‘Forest schools’; learned to play violin or cello and learned first aid with St John’s ambulance; Year 3/4 classes worked with an artist to produce banners and props which they then used as part of the street theatre event with several other primary schools to celebrate of St Georges Day in Chester. Year 2 worked hard on their garden for the Arley Garden festival in June, producing a fantastic garden based on the book ‘Oliver’s Vegetables’. A visiting artist, Jan Gardner, helped reception children create a stunning Olympic Collage which was displayed at an exhibition in Chester, the design was so good it was chosen to be used as the poster to advertise the event. (It is now displayed in the corridor outside reception classrooms if you get chance, take a look).
The school environment
The most obvious changes to see are in the school building and outside environment. The year began with the opening of the new play facilities (football area, climbing wall and extended trim trail) by the Town Mayor in October, soon followed by the involvement of year 5 and 6 pupils in creating the graffiti artwork and willow structures to further enhance our outdoor areas. Mr Lambert worked with a small number of pupils on our new recycled greenhouse which will be put to good use this year.
In January, an assessor visited our nursery to assess the learning environment, we achieved a rating of 5.4, compared to a national average of 3.2, one of the highest scores in Cheshire West.
As our school becomes more popular with parents and our pupil numbers increase it was necessary to move the library and EAL (English as an additional Language) Resource rooms in order to allow the old library to be used as Miss Merchant’s classroom in this new academic year. The library is now in a bright, cosy and newly decorated room at the end of the Key Stage 2 corridor. The EAL room has a new home in a room next to the hall, converted successfully from what used to be the old PE store area.
A continuous programme of maintenance and redecoration means that our school continues to be a comfortable and attractive environment for our children’s learning.
Making sure our children are safe and healthy
The safety and well-being of our children is paramount. As a school we are constantly looking at procedures to ensure we are following best practice in keeping our children safe.
Two simple improvements implemented last year are thatstaff now wear badges with their name and photo and children no longer have to come out in to the entrance area to collect the registers. Our safe-guarding policy was revised and new improved systems put in place to ensure any issues or problems relating to safe-guarding are spotted and action taken promptly. Our family support worker is available to help families who need support.
Children are taught how to keep themselves safe, being involved in writing risk assessments for our new play areas and school trips for example.
Anti-bullying week took place in November, the children came up with the slogan ‘Safe, Happy, Learn’ and took part in various activities including drama and art to explore this theme.
We have a policy promoting healthy eating and this is highlighted to families at every opportunity. The school year started with a Healthy Eating Week and Walk to School week in May was also successful.
Every class joined in an Olympic themed curriculum in the summer term, with opening and closing ceremonies which many parents attended.
Working with parents and the community
Parents are our partners in ensuring their children learn and achieve well. One special evening which illustrated this was the Pyjama Party event in March, author Antony Lishak spent the day working with the children, making their own books then parents and children were invited back to school in the evening, children listened to stories in magical settings created by the staff whilst parents listened to Antony in a very entertaining presentation about the importance of telling stories and encouraging a love of books and reading. The hall was packed with over 90 families taking part.
Family Learning Opportunities continued to develop, with more parents taking advantage of the variety of courses on offer in school; face-painting, IT, maths, jewelry making, knitting have all been included.
Children have been involved in helping our community and helping a range of charities. Year 6 raised money to improve the garden area at a local nursing home, all children helped raise money for Water Aid, Sports Relief, Christian Aid and St Luke’s Hospice.
Church links flourish
Our vicar, Reverend Alison is a regular visitor to school. Every Wednesday morning there is a collective worship assembly which is led by Reverend Alison or Graham Sheen, one of our foundation governors. Many special events in the Christian calendar are celebrated by our school in St Helen’s Church, Easter, Harvest and Christingle services were very successful and attended by many parents too. Members of the church community came in to school to help with the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, a lovely day for everyone involved.
Reverend Alison is one of our Governors and she also volunteered to help with the Year 2 residential trip to Tattenhall.
Graham Sheen has worked with Miss Farran, to create reflective areas in all classrooms and in other areas throughout school. He has also helped review our RE curriculum and supported Miss Farran in organizing a day in which the whole school focused on Christian values.
Governors: A brief introduction
Every school has a governing body, it is legally responsible for the operation of the school including staff appointments, school budget, health and safety, maintaining the school buildings and equipment and monitoring the school’s performance. The Governing Body has an important strategic role, alongside the headteacher and school leadership team deciding on the areas which the school should focus on to improve and provide the best possible education for our children.
As a church school our governing body includes governors appointed by the Parish of St Helens and the Diocesan Board of Education as well as staff governors, parent governors and a Local Education Authority appointed Governor.
In the paragraphs below some of our governors tell you why they became governors and how they hope to help our school.
Sarah Merison; Parent Governor: Chair of Governors
I have been a parent governor for about six years, and Chair of
Governors since June 2010. I have two daughters who are currently in Years 3 and 6.
I became a governor because I wanted to help school and learn more
about how school and education is organised. I felt that my work as a
children’s librarian and experience of working in local government
meant that I had skills and experience which I could use to make a
positive impact on our school. I am also fortunate that as a part time
worker I can devote a lot of time to helping in school and attending
the meetings and training which are part of being a governor.
Through my time as a governor I have learned a tremendous amount and I continue to try and make the most of all the opportunities available to become a better governor and now as Chair to lead our Governing Body in providing better governance to our school.
Rachel Clarke; Foundation Governor: Vice Chair
I was asked to become a Governor in 2008 and became Vice Chair in 2010. I have two children in school in year 2 and in Nursery.
I was asked to become a Foundation Governor by Rev Malcolm Cowan, when my son was just at the beginning of his school journey and I was keen to become more involved in his school life. I was already on a career break from work in the wallpaper industry. At first I thought, “I don’t know anything about education”, it was a bit daunting, however I felt I had the skills I had gained from working in industry that could benefit the school in the decision making process and as a mum I had the commitment of trying to gain the best education for my children. Being a governor was one way I could help in gaining more knowledge of how a school is managed and maintained in these challenging times.
Yes, we have to attend meetings but they are flexible and we have training courses available with support from the head and staff to improve our knowledge and gain more skills to become better Governors.
Coming from a non school background I have learned an enormous amount about the work, dedication and involvement needed for our school to continue to improve and grow into an excellent place to learn, a happy environment where each child’s development is always first. If I can help to be part of that I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to continue that support and governance.
Richard Lambert; Parent Governor/Children’s Champion
I have been a parent governor for about five and a half years. I have two children. One who is a year 5, and another who is now a year 8 in high school. I have had quite a few different roles on the governing body, and the latest one is children’s champion, which I really enjoy, as I have the chance to give children a voice in school.
I became a governor as I am an ex pupil of the school and probably one of its biggest fans. Being a governor has given me the opportunity to give something back to my old school and also have an input into my own children’s education. I have a background in building which has come in handy as I am able to bring something different to the governing body and any of its relevant committees.
The training I have received as a governor, has given me a completely different view of education and general day to day life in school, and as made me realise how hard the school works to do the right thing for our children.
Susan Williams; Foundation Governor/SEN Governor
I became a Governor as I belong to the congregation at St Helen's Church and wanted to be involved with the School. I have lived in Northwich for 8 years and have 2 grown up children who live in Manchester. I want to contribute to the wider community and support the school in any way I can.
In my working life I am a Human Resources Business Partner and I felt that my skills in this area would benefit the school.
I am also a member of the Parochial Church Council at St Helen's and currently hold 3 roles, Secretary, Parish Recorder and Protection for all Officer.
Graham Sheen: Diocesan Foundation Governor.
I have been a Governor since April 2009 when I was asked by the Diocese to fill a vacancy on the Governing Body. I retired from teaching in 2007 after a career spanning thirty-four years including eighteen years as the head teacher of a primary school. I am also a Parish Reader at St John the Evangelist Church, Lostock Gralam, where my wife and I have worshipped for over twenty-five years. During my time as a serving head teacher I took a Masters degree in Church School education and I hope that my knowledge of school, particular church schools, and my interest in RE, Collective Worship and spiritual development contributes towards the skill mix within the Governing Body. I am also the well-being Governor and take my role very seriously as I believe that, although schools are primarily about imparting skills and knowledge, they are also places where all people are entitled to personal support and encouragement and are valued as individuals.
Apart from Governors' meetings I really enjoy leading collective worship, assisting with curriculum development and spending time talking to the children and staff. It's a great school to be involved with and I feel very privileged.
Gail McCall Foundation Governor
I am a Foundation Governor, which means my appointment has been made through my involvement with St Helens Church, where I am a member of the congregation, and my two daughters, currently in Year 2 and Nursery, attend Sunday Club.
When approached about becoming a Governor, I was keen to take up the role. I feel school and education are very important to a child, and believe that parents have a significant role to play in supporting and encouraging their child. Since having my second child, I have worked part time, and have therefore been fortunate enough to have the time to get involved in many different aspects of the school.
Before having children, I qualified as an accountant, and worked for many years in a management role, which provided me with some valuable experience to bring to a team such as this. My husband is a teacher at a sixth form college, so I also have a close insight into the education system and the issues it faces.
Although very new to the role, and still "finding my feet", I would hope to be able to use my skills and experience to support the continued improvement of the school and the impact it has on every pupil.
If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a governor visit the website www.moderngovernor.com and try the free introductory course ‘Becoming a Governor’.
Tina Harris: Foundation Governor
I have lived in Northwich all my life and attend St. Helen’s Church with my family. My children are currently in Year 1 and Nursery at the School. I work as a Design & Technology teacher and became a Foundation Governor in October 2011.
Being asked to be a school governor one Sunday morning at Church was quite a shock to me. I hadn’t thought about it before, but as my two children had recently begun attending Witton Church Walk I felt it was a great way to learn how the school operates and for me to contribute. I’ve been a secondary teacher for 14 years which has given me some experience of the education system. I hope this will help me in my role as a governor.
My reasons for becoming a governor are
· I want to be part of the team that determines the future direction of the School.
· I strongly believe in the partnership between Church and School and its cultural and spiritual traditions.
· I am interested in education and its importance to society.
Having children gave me the opportunity to see school life from their perspective; very different from mine as a teacher. I am really looking forward to joining the largest volunteer group in the country; a governor!
COMMITTEES & MEMBERS 2011-2012
Head teacher - Kathryn Magiera
Chair of Governors – Sarah Merison (Chair)
Chair of Environment – Richard Lambert
Chair of Learning, Teaching, Standards and Curriculum- Rachel Clarke
Chair of Workforce and Community – Tracy Parr
School Bursar – Tammy Foulkes
WORKFORCE AND COMMUNITY
Head teacher – Kathryn Magiera
Tracy Parr (Chair)
Rachel Clarke (Clerk)
Rev Alison Harris
Head teacher – Kathryn Magiera
Richard Lambert (Chair)
Tammy Foulkes (Clerk)
LEARNING, TEACHING, STANDARDS AND CURRICULUM
Head teacher – Kathryn Magiera
Rachel Clarke (Chair)
Graham Sheen (Clerk)
HEAD’S PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT
Graham Sheen, Jacqui Jeffries, Sarah Merison, Alison Harris
GOVERNORS WITH SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITIES
SEN/G&T Sue Williams
CHILD PROTECTION/LAC Jacqui Jeffries
CHAMPION FOR CHILDREN/EARLY YEARS/ARTS Richard Lambert
TRAINING LIAISON Tammy Foulkes
BUDGET Sarah Merison
WELL-BEING/RE/KS1 Graham Sheen
LITERACY/NUMERACY Gail McCall
SCIENCE/KS2 Rachel Clarke
EXCLUSIONS PANEL - Sue Williams, Rachel Clarke, Richard Lambert
PUPIL DISCIPLINE, STAFF DISMISSAL & APPEALS
Three eligible Governors as required