Parent Forum Meeting Minutes February 2014
Minutes of third meeting: 25 February 2014
Feedback from previous Parent Forum meetings
1.1 Jeremy Hayward (Chair of Governors) provided some feedback on how the Governing Body and school leadership team had considered ideas from previous forum meetings. He made the following key points:
Most ideas from the previous meeting (held on 17 January 2014) were operational and therefore outside of the governors remit;
The relevant sub-committee of the governing body has decided to set up a web site development committee with parental involvement (NOTE: a request for parent volunteers was published in the school newsletter dated 20 March);
Ivydale League of Friends has had lots of renewed interest since the last meeting and many events in the pipeline; and
A playground consultant has been involved in discussing the re-development of the Key Stage 2 playground. Building work could commence as early as summer 2014.
Proposed Expansion of Ivydale School
2.1 Mark Plummer (Chair Parent Forum) set out the current position on school expansion, reminding parents that the governing body had yet to make a decision and the views heard in this meeting will contribute to that decision making process.
2.2 Polly Russell (Community Governor) explained the role of the governing body in the decision on the expansion. She provided an update on work that the governing body had done since being approached by Southwark Council to consider expanding to a four-form entry and taking over the old Bredinghurst site on Inverton Road. Key points included:
An Expansion Working Party (EWP), consisting of four members of the governing body plus Helen Ingham (Head Teacher), had been set up to look into all areas of the expansion objectively;
The Council had paid for an independent education consultant Dr. Sharon Wright to assist with the process;
The EWP had met weekly to understand the risks and opportunities of expansion, including visiting a school that has made a similar expansion.
The EWP had secured a commitment from Southwark Council for an expanded senior leadership team if the expansion goes ahead.
Information gathered from their work and the Parent Forum will be feed back to the Full Governing Body meeting on 18 March when the decision on school expansion would be made.
Helen Ingham outlined the reasons why she favoured expansion of the school. These included:
we are a good school and have a responsibility to the community
opportunities for children through improved environment, curriculum and enrichment opportunities
improved long term planning
opportunities to secure excellent staff through retention and recruitment
improving our arts provision
The handouts to accompany this talk are available on website.
Group discussion on the benefits and risks of the expansion
2.4. Sharon Wright introduced the group discussions and asked parents to consider both reasons why the school should expand, and reasons why school expansion should not take place (including what issues had to be addressed if it did). After each group discussion there was a short feedback session. Full details of parental thoughts and views given are also in the Parent Forum page on the school website.
Questions raised post discussion.
2.5 After the feedback sessions, Jeremy Hayward and Helen Ingham participated in a Question and Answer session. Some of the key questions and points made included:
How will the governing body reach its decision?
Could there be a survey or parent questionnaire asking parent views on the expansion?
What is the Head and Governors vision for the school?
What evidence is there that expanding a school is a good thing?
There is no vision that has been presented to parents, for parents to agree or disagree with.
The responsibility of the school governors are the children in the school now, whilst the issue of school places is a question for the council.
Is expansion good for Ivydale?
What are the negatives of another separate school on the Newlands site?
There is a risk that we could end up with two schools with very different demographics: a white middle class school and one for everyone else.
2.6 In response, the following points were made:
Our school development plan is our vision for the future of the school, giving all our children really rich learning opportunities.
Every year the school evaluates itself to see if its meeting the demands of its school development plan;
The school needs a fabulous performance space.
The working party has worked very hard to be objective in its assessment of the benefits and risks of expansion;.
Expanding the school would widen its demographic intake;
Many questions cannot have answers at present, i.e. what type of school it will be, how it will look and which Key stage will be on each site. These would follow at any detailed stage;
Wider consultation will take place in the local community if the expansion goes ahead;
There may be another bulge class next year (which the Council can direct the school to provide) if the governing body votes for no expansion;
The governing body decision will be to continue the process of expansion, to proceed in good faith;
If the governing body do decide to proceed with expansion, there will also be a formal consultation period overseen by Southwark Council. It is a statutory process involving all stakeholders in the local community.
There will be more information and further opportunities for parents to share their views.
3.1 Mark Plummer thanked all those attending, and sought volunteers to fill the role of co-chair vacated by Jessica Taplin. Interested parties were asked to contact the Parent Forum at email@example.com.