Welcome to the Governors section of the Ashley Down Schools Federation website. As you will have read, the Federation consists of two schools: Ashley Down Primary School and Brunel Field Primary School. The Federation has one governing body with responsibility for both schools.
Who are the Governors?
Our membership is made up of (i) people from the community, (ii) a parent governor from each school elected by the parents / carers at each respective school, (iii) one governor nominated by the local authority, and (iv) staff members.
Our constitution currently provides for having 14 governors on the governing body. We also have some associate members.
Our current members are listed here. We are all volunteers and are not paid for our time.
What do we do?
Being a governor can be very rewarding but it can also be hard work.
In recent years, governors have been able to turn to an increasing number of sources for guidance and assistance in their roles (Bristol City Council Governor Development Service; various websites dedicated to school governance (National Governors Association; Modern Governor; The Key). Most of them will tell you that the role of a school governing body is a “strategic” one with 3 key functions :
- Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction for the school.
- Holding the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) 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 to the benefit of the children and it operates within budget.
Some of those sources will also suggest that it is a thinking role rather than a doing role.
The ADSF governors would disagree with that last statement. The role necessarily involves a lot of doing but that is within very clearly defined roles so that each of our governors should know what they need to be doing during the course of an academic year. We are careful not to stray into operational issues – the Federation’s SLT and staff are responsible for those matters in the day-to-day operation of the schools.
How is the Governing Body organised?
We carry out our role operating as 3 specific units : (a) As a Full Governing Body (FGB) when all governors should attend; (b) As a Staffing & Curriculum Committee (S&C) with various governors allocated to that committee; and (c) As a Finance & Premises Committee (F&P) with the remaining governors allocated to that committee.
Full Governing Body Meetings
The FGB meets six times a year, once a term, on a Monday evening. The FGB focuses on higher level issues which need all governors' attention and decisions. FGB meetings involve reports from our Executive Head, Laurence Pitt, and from our Heads of School, Amy Sood and Don Collins. The chairs of the S&C Committee and the F&P Committee also report to all governors. There also tend to be some “housekeeping” issues. We always try to focus on at least one “bigger picture”, strategic issue each term.
Our Committees also meet 6 times a year, once every term, on a Monday evening. The Committees have specific terms of reference and the FGB delegates particular issues to them to deal with:
(1) The S&C Committee focuses on monitoring teaching and learning issues; analysis of the extensive data which the schools provide providing evidence as to outcomes, attainment, and progress; and staffing and recruitment issues. Individual governors on the S&C Committee also have dedicated “link” roles with responsibility for SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability); CLA (Children Looked After); and Safeguarding. It also has a governor dedicated to the role of Chair of Committee. At the moment, the Chair is Patrick Cummings.
(2) The F&P Committee focuses on monitoring budget and buildings issues; analysis of the extensive financial data which our bursar provides each term providing evidence of expenditure and income during the course of the financial year and confirming whether the Federation is within budget; and issues associated with the maintenance/improvement of the premises and health & safety. One of the governors on the F&P Committee also has a dedicated “link” role with responsibility for health & safety. It also has a governor dedicated to the role of Chair of Committee. At the moment, the Chair is Richard Orton.
Our other work
As well as the FGB and Committee meetings, in order to fulfil our roles properly, there will be many other meetings going on during the course of each term with the appropriate staff members. We always try to have governor representation at the School Improvement Officer “Core visits” which take place in terms 2, 4 and 6. Governors might sometimes be involved in staff recruitment interviews. If possible, we try to make sure some governors are present for any big school events (drama productions; sports days; speaking competitions; judging chocolate presentations).
We also have a number of people in role as associate governors. This often means they are dedicated to a particular issue without needing to serve as full governors. Where the role requires them to attend Committee meetings, they have full voting rights, but on attending any FGB meetings they do not.
The governors work as a collective body deciding on things jointly and sharing responsibilities for the decisions we make. None of us can operate unilaterally (except in exceptional, defined circumstances, usually involving an emergency).
Our Charter and Code of Conduct
All our governors have signed up to our Charter and Code of Conduct which sets out in detail the purpose of the governing body and how we will conduct ourselves as governors. This document can be found here:
Keeping in touch
We endeavour to keep everyone up to date with the work of the governing body during the course of the year. Sometimes this might just focus on particular issues which have arisen during that time. Copies of our recent letters can be found on this page. Copies of the approved minutes of our FGB meetings are always available on request from the school office.
You have hopefully picked up from the above the common themes that the governors’ role largely involves analysing, monitoring and questioning. We receive a lot of information from many of the school staff. We need to read into and analyse that information. We need to be equipped with the skills to do so and most of us have attended training courses dedicated to particular things and also have access to specialist governor websites. That allows us to monitor many aspects of the schools’ lives and ask appropriate questions in meetings. All of the things referred to above collectively are how we provide oversight of the SLT and the schools.
We work closely with the SLT during the course of a year. There has to be trust and transparency on all our parts for that to work. Whilst we are here to challenge and monitor, we are also here to support.
We are immensely proud of the schools, of what they have achieved and continue to achieve, and of the important role they have in our community.
How can you contact us?
If you would like to know more about the governing body or may be interested in becoming a governor, please do not hesitate to get in touch through the school office and they will pass your message to us.
We hope your children enjoy their time at Ashley Down Schools Federation as they progress through each year. If you have any questions or comments about how the schools are run, as a first step, please talk to Mr Pitt, Mrs Sood or Mr Collins.
Governors Letters to Parents: