As we come to the end of the year I’m writing to you as the newly-elected Chair of Governors. Last night I attended the annual Chis & Sid Carols by Candlelight service at Holy Trinity Church. This was an opportunity to see the school community at it’s best – enthusiastic and talented young people performing in a lovely environment with supportive staff giving up their time to make this happen. This festive event is always a great evening and the addition of the Chis & Sid Gospel Choir made it even better. I encourage you to come along and experience it for yourselves next year!
I’d like to give you some insight into what we do as a Governing Body and how this impacts on your child. This is particularly relevant as we have 2 vacancies for Parent Governors coming up in January and it’s important for parents to understand the role and responsibilities before applying.
As the Government moves more schools towards academisation, the role of a Governor also evolves and requires Governors to adapt and respond to the changes that all schools are facing. We currently have a Governing body of 18 – of which up to 7 are Parent Governors. As Governors, our role is to set the strategic direction, vision and ethos of the school and approve and monitor the school’s budget. The operational management of the school is the responsibility of the Head Teacher and the Senior Leadership Team. As Governors we monitor the finances of the school and ensure that we provide a safe and happy environment for pupils to learn in and reach their full potential.
We do this by attending meetings of the FGB approximately 6 times a year and are expected to join one of the committees which currently include HR, Curriculum, Finance and Premises and each meet 4 or 5 times per year. Our meetings are held in the evenings starting at 6pm and shouldn’t last for longer than 2 hours. We recognize that new Governors may not have previous experience so full induction training is provided and all Governors are also expected to attend training sessions – we buy into Bexley’s Governor training program and there are a wide variety of sessions every term.
The school organises Governor mornings where we have the opportunity to tour the school while it’s in action and meet with groups of students to look at the school through their eyes. We find that our students are keen to tell us what’s going on and what issues are important to them and I’m always impressed at how articulate and mature they are. We are present at Parents’ Evenings and also encourage Governors to attend school events such as the Christmas Concert and school productions and generally support the school in any way they can.
As a Parent Governor you will be able to bring an insight from a parental point of view and may have more knowledge of the issues that are currently affecting the children than Governors who aren’t parents at Chis & Sid. However we don’t discuss operational issues or the day to day running of the school as this isn’t within our role. We always need Governors with skills including Finance, HR and Marketing but equally important as these skills is having the enthusiasm and ability to give your time to Chis & Sid and help us ensure our school is outstanding.
As you will be aware, all public sector bodies are currently suffering from financial constraints and parents have been concerned recently about the financial situation at Chis & Sid. Our Finance Committee keeps a rigorous check on the budget and a recent audit praised the school’s Finance department for their work. They reported that Chis & Sid is in a better financial position than other similar schools that they work with. The school receives funding from central Government for the day to day management of the school – the General Annual Grant. This money is not available for use in major development projects, where a completely different source of funding is required. We have been the most successful school in Bexley at bidding for these funds from the Community Improvement Fund (CIF) and in the past 5 years have received over £7 million to improve the condition of the school. The Legacy Building, which is now in full use by our 6th form, was funded from these monies. Over £1.5 million has been awarded for the more mundane, but extremely important, pipework replacement which is of course vital in keeping the school running. We have secured £1.5 million of CIF funding to build a new Performing Arts block and work is starting on this in the New Year. The CIF money is completely separate from the General Annual Grant and it is not the case that we are spending money on new buildings while being unable to provide everyday items, which I have heard mentioned. All funds received must be spent on the project that they were granted for and the school is not allowed to divert funds from capital projects to the day to day running costs of the school.
I need to say a big thank you to our Parents’ Association and all of the parents who support their events. I know they work extremely hard and are generating a huge amount of money – they have raised over £10000 already this term. The money they raise provides the added extras that sit outside of the school budget and in addition to this their events enhance the school community and bring parents together, which is of course far harder to do at a large secondary school than parents are used to at primary school. Many of the parents who are running the PA have children who will be leaving Chis & Sid in the coming year and they are looking for people to take over the main committee roles so if you have some time that you’d like to dedicate to this fundraising body please let them know.
I’d like to mention how proud the Governors are of the achievements of our students. A large proportion of our year 13 leavers have gone on to Russell Group universities and several students have achieved places at the UK’s most prestigious universities including a number of places at Imperial College and London School of Economics with one student gaining a Choral scholarship to University College, Oxford. Over the last 2 years we have also had several students gaining places at Medical School and Veterinary College.We are keen to support all students and are happy to celebrate the success of several students who have fought off tough competition for Apprenticeships or work opportunities at companies including Deloitte and RBS.
Of course none of this would be possible without the hard work of all our wonderful staff who go above and beyond what is expected of them. Working in the ever-changing field of education, and with tight budgets, is a challenge that
our staff rise to and I’d like to thank them for ensuring that our students continue to receive an outstanding educational experience.
Finally, on behalf of all the Governors at Chis & Sid I’d like to wish you a happy and peaceful holiday and we look forward to 2017 being another successful year at Chis & Sid.