Parent Form Meeting 17th Jan 2014 Minutes
Ivydale Parent Forum
Minutes of second meeting: 17th January 2014
Mark Plummer (Chair of the Parent Forum) welcomed the 35 parents who attended the forum, and gave a brief overview of the purpose of the meeting and the morning’s agenda.
Ivydale League of Friends
2.1 Lynne Gravatt, current committee member of the Ivydale League of Friends (ILOF) gave a short talk on its role and purpose. It is an organisation with charitable status and has two main roles: to raise funds and build a community atmosphere. There is a very strong social element to events organised by ILOF, and being a committee member is a fun, enjoyable experience although it involves hard work at times. Lynne concluded by saying that the ILOFcommittee has virtually disbanded due to all but one of the committee standing down, and there is a desperate need for new faces.
2.2 After this the forum split into groups to discuss what more they wanted to know about ILOF and what steps could be taken to breathe new life into it. The key feedback points were as follows:
- Parents would welcome some greater understanding of what it means to belong to ILOF, greater clarity on the key roles in the committee and what responsibility/commitment that entails;
- Parents would welcome greater clarity on what money is raised for, when and how it is spent, and what opportunities they have on how to spend the money;
- Parents were wary of the time commitment involved. To minimise time, current and former ILOF members could create a document explaining how to create an event to help reinventing the wheel and allow parents to use time more productively;
- There should be a member of staff dedicated to ILOF if there isn’t already;
- ILOF social events were very important (especially in the evening) in ensuring greater social interaction amongst parents
2.3 The Chair summed up by concluding that the main message that parents would like ILOF to take away was the need greater and better communication on a range of issues.
2.4 Parents were invited to complete a feedback form at the end of the meeting stating whether they would like to get involved in ILOF.
Parental engagement in school activities
3.1 The Forum was asked to consider how parents could engage further in school activities based around the following questions:
If you wanted to support the school, do you know what opportunities there are to help?
What opportunities do you think exist at the moment?
What could you offer?
3.2 The main issues raised by parents were as follows:
parental engagement with the school was a mutually beneficial arrangement. There were many ways in which they could help. Examples included: help with website, graphic design skills, careers/aspirational talks for Yr6
there should be a clear and transparent process to getting involved in school life and activities. This included: i) a better understanding of what help the school needed; ii) highlighting ways in which parents could be involved (such as through the website, a sign-up board in the school playground, organising lunches between parents and school)
they would welcome some training to better help the school e.g. reading workshops to know how to support reading of children in class;
3.3 In response, Judith Lambert responded on behalf of the school:
- she was the volunteer co-ordinator in the school, and parents were encouraged to contact her either in person (she was often in playground before and after school) or can e-mail the school office at firstname.lastname@example.org if they wanted to help;
- there were many levels of volunteer commitment, from working in class to gaincareer experience, to supporting with, or running an after school club to occasional class excursions;
- Some projects need large parental support, e.g. The Big Draw, Christmas Card Project etc.
- the school had an immediate need for a new leader of the gardening club and was already highlighting specific requests in the newsletter;
- the school was planning to hold a list of parents available for school trips
[Note: Although this subject wasnot discussed further at the meeting, the Chair has asked the school leadership team to consider the findings of this discussion and whether there is a need for a more formal system of engaging and supporting parental engagement in the school.]
Feedback from last Parent Forum Meeting
4.1 Helen Ingham and Jeremy Hayward gave some feedback on how the governors and school leadership team were considering issues raised at the last parents’ forum on the subjects of sports provision and communication.
4.2 Jeremy explained the respective roles, stating that the remit of the governing body is to consider the strategic issues raised whilst the school leadership team were responsible for considering the operational issues. He and Helen had met to consider who would consider each issue.
4.3 Jeremy and Helen reported the following progress on taking forward the communication issues raised by parents:
the running of website is an operational issue but any decision to commit resource to funding a revamp of the website will be for the governors
an email policy has been drafted. Parents were reminded that if they wanted to email staff they could do so via email@example.com with teacher name in subject field.
the governing body standards committee was looking again at homework policy following comments made by parents;
An overview of the revised complaints policy will be put on the website and Jeremy explained that he would be happy to explain the policy further at a future meeting;
Estelle and Miles will facilitate a small group to look at communication with new reception parents later this term
The five-year strategic plan for the school had been recently signed off by governors and is available on the website
4.4 Jeremy and Helen also reported the following progress on taking forward issues raised by parents on sports provision:
the school will be appointing a PE subject leader in addition to continuing to employspecialist sports teachers. This would raise the profile of PE and Sport in the school curriculum
the link governor to consider the provision of sport for gifted and talented children within their wider gifted and talented link governor role;
Ivydale has signed up to the London school sports network, which includes assessment of children in years 4-6 to identify children who are gifted and talented in sport, directing them to further opportunities
governorswill look at whether the school needs develop a play policy;
the school is bringing in extra coaching staff for specific sports (e.g. introducing handball for Year 4 children) and looking to promote greater intra-school competition
4.5 Parents sought clarification on the timing and upgrading of the website. Jeremy responded that improving the website was operational , but it was a strategic decision as to how much resources is spent. Feedback will go to the next governing body meeting, and they will make a decision. Helen added that the school has a commitment to update the website weekly and that an up-to-date calendar is currently on the website.
Updates on building issues
5.1 Helen reported that the new music block was currently on schedule to be completed by Easter 2014. She explained why the fire gates in the KS1 playground remained shut in the morning but recognised parental concern and would try to find a solution with the contractors. There was a need for a new rain shelter in the playground but it had to take account of the school’s listed building status
5.2 Helen reported that ILOF had raised sufficient funds to make significant changes to the KS2 playground. She has consulted parents andwith the school council for children to put forward ideas, and has approached playground design companies. The intention is to make significant progress in the summer term. Helen offered any thoughts or offers of help from parents on this issues.
5.3 Jeremy explained that governors have not yet made a decision on whether to expand, but would do so by Easter 2014. There are regular expansion working party meetings. The group are being supported by a LA financed independent consultant .. To help the working party make an informed decision they havevisited a similar primary school which expanded from two to four form entry, over split sites, one adjacent to a pupil referral unit and have various other meetings planned. The committee are looking at all the pros and cons, including the impact on local community as well as the impact on school standards and school development plan.
5.4 Jeremy and Helen stated that there would be formal consultation from the local authority with parents and wider local community as part of the process should expansion go ahead..
5.5 Parents agreed that the issue of school expansion should be the main focus of the next forum meeting.
6.1 Following the feedback sessions, the chair of the parent forum thanked all parents for their contributions and helpful feedback. The date for the next meeting was not set but is likely to be an evening session in the second half of term (Note: it has since been confirmed for 25 February).
Mark Plummer Chair – Ivydale Parent Forum