Federation Consultation – Minutes of Federation Consultation Meetings

Please find below the minutes from the two stakeholder consultation meetings that were held earlier this term.

The consultation period finishes on Monday 14th July 2014.

If you would like to add your thoughts and views to the discussion, please leave a comment below.

 

Here is a copy of the original Federation Proposal Letter:  Proposal to Federate Heavers Farm Primary School and Selsdon Primary School

 

Minutes of the Selsdon Primary Parents Consultation Meeting

To consider the issues in relation to proposed Federation with Heavers Farm Primary School

Held on Tuesday 10th June 2014 at 6:00pm

Governor Representatives In attendance

Michael Forteath              Parent Governor, Chair of the Governing Body

Simon Powell                     Parent Governor, Vice Chair of Governors

Graham Cluer                     LA Governor

Susan Papas                        Executive Headteacher

Jo Read                                 Head of School

Parents in attendance

15 parents from different year groups attended

 

The Chair opened the meeting at 6:00pm and welcomed everyone to the meeting.  Introductions were made.

The Chair explained the background and the reasons for the consultation.

Questions were invited from the floor:

Q: Will the change improve the consistency of teaching (i.e. teacher change and exchange)?

A: The improved performance and morale at the school is, and should continue to have a positive effect on the number of teachers leaving Selsdon. This will improve general stability. There will be times when it will be a positive step for teachers to spend time at Heavers Farm. If that activity is taking place, Selsdon will work hard to ensure that communication to parents is improved about what is happening around teaching with their child. There will always be circumstances relating to individual teachers and their lives that means some change is inevitable.

Q: Who makes the final decision?

A: Following consultation with all key stakeholder groups (staff, parents, local authority, etc) and consideration of all their feedback and questions, the two governing bodies will vote on a decision, and then come together to vote again as one on the proposal.

Q: Why this route and not academy?

A: Mr Forteath explained how by continuing our partnership with Heavers, Selsdon retains more control over the positive journey it is now on, and the financial benefits of the Academy Route were no longer clear cut. So much work has gone on in the last academic year, it is felt that Selsdon’s best outcomes will come from building on that framework.

Q: Are we due an inspection?

A:  Yes – we have only had one limited inspection this year. Mrs Papas hopes that the next inspection will be after we have received the SATs results and that a big improvement will be evident. The school has had regular reviews however with the local authority and these have been very positive.

Q: Will there be a change in school uniform?

A: this is being considered. It will not happen quickly, there will be discussion around it and if it occurs it will be introduced gradually. There are discussions around offering support to parents on initial introduction (ie the school would provide the first items).

Q: will the proposal affect Selsdon’s position as a feeder school to Riddlesdown?

A: These changes are unrelated to Selsdon’s position as a feeder school to Riddlesdown and there is no indication that the status there will change. Riddlesdown School has been supportive of the changes going on at Selsdon.

General Discussion

There was also some discussion around how visibility of activity has been limited. There was explanation of the history of the previous 12 months around governance and

Attendance at the consultation was limited. This was discussed and several conclusions were drawn:

a) many parents and staff are happy with the proposal so felt no need to attend

b) some parents may have been unaware of the meeting and it was agreed more could be done at the school with signage/posters, etc to remind people of such meetings

c) some parents are not concerned/interested

 

Minutes of the Heavers Farm Parents Consultation Meeting

To consider the issues in relation to proposed Federation with Selsdon Primary School

Held on Thursday 12th June 2014 at 6:00pm

Governor Representatives In attendance

Graham Cluer                     LA Governor, Chair of the Governing Body

Alan Tigg                             Parent Governor

Janice Sprouse                   Parent Governor

Susan Papas                        Headteacher

Sarah Faulding                   Staff Governor

Cleo Douglas                        Staff Governor

Andy Rushton                      Community Governor

Parents in attendance

Gaby Hunter

The Chair opened the meeting at 6:05pm and welcomed everyone to the meeting. Gaby Hunter was the only parent in attendance and introductions were made.

The Chair explained the history of the school’s association with Selsdon Primary School, and said that the LA had approached the Headteacher and Governing Body a year ago to ask if it would be prepared for Susan Papas to take on an executive headteacher role at Selsdon.  It was noted that during the 8 years that Susan had been headteacher at Heavers Farm, the school had developed enormously and gone from strength to strength, and Susan’s leadership skills were well recognised and appreciated by the local authority.  Last year Selsdon was lacking leadership and needed support hence the request.  Since that time the relationship between Heavers Farm and Selsdon has developed strongly to the point where the Governing Bodies of both schools now wished to recommend federation, to formalise the relationship between the two schools.

The Chair explained that the Governing Body considered that there were lots of mutual benefits to both schools which included:

  • Provision of lots of opportunities for staff from both schools to work together, to share best practice and ideas.
  • Provision of opportunity for staff to work across the schools as and when appropriate, enabling staff career development.
  • An opportunity to retain high quality staff because the Federation can offer more opportunities and experiences than a single school.
  • Benefits of scales of economy
  • The added protection of having a partner school to support the other in unplanned/unpredicatable situations eg when key staff leave.

Gaby Hunter asked if there were any concerns that teachers from Heavers Farm could move to Selsdon, draining the talent currently at Heavers Farm?  The Headteacher and Chair explained that there are very high quality staff at both schools, and it was envisaged that the movement of staff will be to both schools’ advantage.  Any decisions to move staff from one school to another for a period of time would be taken with a full undertaking that a vulnerability would not be created.  The Headteacher emphasised that that there was a key priority to ensure that Heavers Farm remains strong.

It was noted that Heavers Farm SATs results the previous year had seen a dip, due to a combination of factors.  The whole school team and Governing Body had been focussed on rectifying the weaknesses of the previous year and it was strongly anticipated that this year’s results will be very good.  The decision to federate will not be taken until the SATs results are confirmed, (and it was recognised that it would not be right to proceed with federation if for any reason the results were poor this year).

A question was asked if there would be any more schools joining the federation in the future?  The Headteacher said that whilst she would not rule this out in the longer term, this would not happen for some time.  Heavers Farm was likely to be undergoing expansion works, and Selsdon was a three form entry school, so between the two schools there were up to 7 forms of entry

The issue of training was discussed, and it was noted that the two schools have been working together and holding in house training sessions attended by staff from both schools during the course of the year including Child Protection training, a Leadership programme led by the Institute of Education on site at Heavers Farm, and a TA training programme run by Surrey university.  It was noted that training on site for groups of staff was much more efficient and cost effective than individual members of staff going out for training.

Andy Rushton said that in preparing and undertaking research on federation of schools, he had read the two key studies on the subject, which both indicated that there is a wealth of evidence to show that results at the schools improve over time and the schools do well.

The Headteacher highlighted that staff have in recent months been sharing planning across the schools and explained that a recent visit to Kingswood Primary School, a very successful school which is part of the Gypsy Federation, had been very beneficial.

Governors observed that from their perspective the schools were already working well in partnership and they fully anticipated that Federation, if formally approved, will be a formalisation of the relationship which will enable even more positive development for both schools.

It was noted that a year ago there had been some trepidation when the request to work with Selsdon had been made, but in the consultation on Federation, having experienced a successful year, governors were fully confident in the process and recommendation.  It was felt that the lack of parental representation at the current meeting was probably an indication that parents were happy with the proposal.  However, the chair said that he would like to encourage any parents or members of staff who may have any queries or concerns to respond to the consultation.

It was also noted that governors would be present in school the following week for the Governors’ Day in School when they hoped to meet with parents and if any questions arose on the issue of Federation they would be able respond accordingly.

At 6.30pm the Chair drew the meeting to a close, thanking Gaby Hunter and governors for their attendance and input.

19 Comments

  1. It is a shame that the turn out from Heavers Farm was so low – it could have had something to do with the football being on!
    My comments re the proposals are as follows;
    The current proposals states 15 members in total however the breakdown of this means that from the beginning Selsdon have much more representation on the governing body than Heavers Farm as follows; 1 Parent governor and 2 partnership governors total 3 (1 fifth) with the proposal that there is an additional parent governor amongst the co-opted and a staff governor making a total of 5 (1 third of the governing body). Heavers Farm on the other hand have 1 parent governor with the proposal of having an additional parent governor and 1 staff governor which could take it to 1 fifth – a clear disadvantage I think. Is there any particular reason why the Selsdon Foundation need two Governors to sit on the board, I think that in the beginning that it should be an equal split re existing representation and that a review be undertaken further down the line should it be required.
    If the results of both schools are not as expected will the Federation still go ahead and will the two schools still continue to work together?
    I note that at the moment no final decision has been made re uniforms but there is a possibility that things may change (minutes from the Selsdon meeting) when will this decision be made and will it be in time for September 2014 intake. Some parents will be buying uniforms over the holidays if the decision is made on time it could mean that the school may not need to spend money on uniforms especially since Heavers Farm purchased jumpers for all students within the last 18 months! If the decision is to buy more surely this is not the best use of public funds.
    Is it proposed that the logo of both schools will change – again bearing in mind that Heavers have recently spent money on new signage or is the thought that each school will keep their current logo.
    Does being a Federation attract additional funding from anywhere that would benefit the children?
    What consultation if any has been done with the children of each school on this issue?
    Ways that you might increase attendance at meetings – offer the children a house point or a merit if they get their parents / carers to attend, and then you could offer a small token for the class that gets the most adults to attend (extra play time always goes down a treat).

  2. Hi Susan
    Thanks for posting the minutes. In the absence of a full public debate at Heavers, I’m posting my own thoughts here in the hope that other parents feel they can air their views for or against the proposals.

    The Heavers turn out was shockingly low – this could be down to a whole host of factors, the varied cultural mix of the student base and their families, general apathy, lack of solid proposals to be discussed or a simple resignation that it doesn’t matter what the parents’ views might be and that the federation move is set to roll ahead. I sincerely regret that I was unable to attend, unfortunately I work a lot at night and this was on the same day that I started a project with a new client – hence my chasing for sight of the minutes.

    On a personal level, even after reading the minutes, I’m still struggling to see the core benefits to Heavers Farm. Everything seems to be very much “in principal”.

    Improved purchasing power – this can be achieved simply by setting up a “buying group” or syndicate. I can buy cheap toilet rolls in bulk at the cash and carry with my neighbour – we both benefit in the cost saving but we don’t need to share a bathroom!

    Improved training – yet to see any real evidence of this. The joint schools teacher resource page (http://heaversteaching.wordpress.com/) hasn’t been updated since April 2014. The Powerpoint presentation for that day sets a clear goal of regular posting of homework on the blog the day before this is handed to children – this is great and gives parents and extra day to get their head around supporting younger students with their homework, but this just isn’t being achieved. I applaud the transparency of keeping this information in the public domain and hope that it continues. However, the resource page needs to be dynamic and evolving if you want parents to buy in to the benefits of the proposal. Furthermore, if you set a good working practice in a public forum then you need to show the delivery! Especially if this is being held up as a clear benefit of the federation and should be a deliverable that is showing results especially given the time that both schools have been under joint management.

    We shouldn’t only be looking at possible benefits cited in reports of other federations, by know we should have some real hands on Selsdon/Heavers examples of policy and successes.

    Teacher exchange – we experienced this with Diamond class this term. Very poorly communicated as to why this was being undertaken. No introduction of the incoming teacher to the parents (maybe this could be done during the in class curriculum sessions where parents visit to have sessions on numeracy and literacy topics being covered by each year group – incidentally, without checking my diary it seems ages since these were run for KS1). No engagement and self-introduction by the teacher on exchange from Selsdon to Heavers Farm at morning drop off (this is only a Y2 class so most parents drop their child at the classroom door)…you’re responsible for my child whilst they are in your class…who are you? This shouldn’t be instigated by the parent.

    The exchange took place two weeks before the SATS tests – there was some playground debate amongst the parents if this was the best time to run the exchange. Two days into the exchange our daughter (unprompted) marked the return date of her Heavers teacher on the calender in the kitchen and counted down the days – this was despite our efforts to discuss this with her and encourage her that it was fun and interesting to get a different teacher for a short time and see what they had to offer (despite what we might think as parents, we believe that it is important to support the position taken by the school when discussing anything with the girls).

    We touched on a couple of points yesterday around the posts on the strike news, but there is a natural overlap so please allow me to expand slightly.

    Communication – this has definitely got worse over the last year at Heavers. Whilst I note that you ensured all the key dates in the academic year were posted in July 2013 onto the web site this is just one element of communication and it doesn’t end there. I’ve just found out by talking to a parent governor that the Summer Fair is cancelled this year. He found out by talking to another parent. As a family we had cancelled other plans to be at the fair to help out. Playground gossip has told us this wasn’t necessary now.

    I also share Gail Collins’ concerns surrounding the change in class structures (see her comments under the Final Strike Update on the Heavers home page) moving from Y2 to Y3. An impersonal letter sent home on a Friday night telling kids that they won’t be in class with the same peers that they have spent the last three years with was pretty harsh and a little upsetting for our daughter. This must have been a shared experience judging by the telephone calls we received over the weekend to find out “which class are you in?” As a parent it was also very vague to read that this is also the result of streaming the students – great, I’m up for learning being paced to ability but the letter left me asking “what does this mean for MY child?” It’s on the list for parent’s evening but timings and planning around the communication could have been a whole heap better.

    Slightly “off-topic”, but a cancelled Summer Fair and no end of term disco for the years beneath Y6 points to a pretty much defunct PTA at Heavers. No PTA coupled with low meeting attendance to discuss the federation proposal is more than a coincidence.

    I appears to me that active parental buy-in and support of the school is at a low (compared to the previous three years we have been at the school). Surely this needs to improve if any planned changes are to be embraced and taken forward?

    There’s a feeling that Heavers is taking the lead in “excellence” in the federation proposals (albeit implied through Susan taking over as executive head to help Selsdon turn a corner). This is great that Heavers is seen to have this reputation. However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that only 4 or 5 years ago the situation at Heavers was very different and it’s a testament to the hard work of the school that they achieved such great results so quickly.

    Similarly it also shouldn’t be forgotten that the last Ofsted report came in as “good” rather than the much hoped for (and “worked hard for” – apologies for the grammar!) “outstanding” and that last year
    SATS results took a dip for the first time in three years.

    I come from a corporate background and if I was asked to apply business analysis to this situation with the facts as they are and my experiences as I see them, then I would say that this is the wrong time to implement the federation. Instead this should be a period of consolidation on all that Heavers has achieved in the last 4 years, making sure that these improvements are entrenched in the structure of the school management and operations.

    Make sure that some of the “wobbles” that have been seen over the last twelve months are eradicated and aren’t left to grow into bigger more damaging issues and problems (sorry but “wobbles” don’t grow into “challenges”!).

    Make sure that parent/school interaction and support is at an all time high and that parental engagement throughout all school activities is as strong as reasonably possible.

    Address the low level of parent interaction in this process at Heavers Farm – a turn out of just ONE parent CANNOT be seen as a mandate to proceed but must be seen as a reason to question “why?” What happened to the other candidates who were standing for election as Governer earlier this year – none of those made it to the meeting? If current communication produces such low levels of response then what else could be done? Would using closed or restricted social media groups work?

    Get the PTA functioning again. Cleo needs support on this one and I’d mark it as URGENT!

    Another part of this discussion that I don’t seem to have seen, is what happens if the federation proposal is rejected. What are the alternatives? Do Selsdon start the process of recruiting a new head? Is it all back to the structures that were in place 18 months ago? Without knowing the alternatives any real decision is very hard to reach…how do you manage the “what ifs?”

    In summary, I’m not against the federation out of some “not in my back yard” fear of change. I do, however, firmly believe that this is not the right time to say yes to the proposal based on the information currently available and the areas of concern that I’ve outlined above yet to be addressed or frankly in need of fixing.

    I will copy this post and send it through via email to Liz Parry ahead of the Monday noon deadline.

    Many thanks for giving me the platform to post these comments and for taking the time to read them.

    Yours, with Heavers in my heart!
    Graeme

  3. I totally agree with all the comments here. After reading the minutes, I fail to see how this benefits the children at Heavers Farm. To me the benefits appear very one sided.

  4. Thanks for your comments.

    Many of your points are about communication and I have responded elsewhere to say we have noted these. The comments about the Federation will be reported to Governors when we meet to consider responses next week.

    Could I urge all parents who want to comment on the Federation proposal to copy their comments to the Clerk, Liz parry. Do this by sending an email to Tina Marola (office@heaversfarm.croydon.sch.uk). That way they won’t get lost.

    Just to confirm – We haven’t discussed any proposals to change Heavers Farm school uniform and certainly wouldn’t do so for September 2014.

    Graham Cluer (Chair of Governors)

  5. I agree with these comments about not seeing the benefits to the federation at all. I absolutely love this school, my children do really well here and I think it has improved greatly, however that is not finished. We are all still working towards becoming an outstanding school and I think things like this will spread us thin, instead of concentrating on Heavers Farm. The school had already expanded, that is already something to deal with. The reason I wasn’t at the meeting was honestly hand on heart because I didn’t think we would actually be listened to and a decision had already been made. But I am wholeheartedly against this federation and hope that it will not take place for the sake of the school.
    I am not so worried about communication issues as above parent, however it can be improved.
    I am the secretary of the PTA and no we have not had many meetings. It is upsetting how little support the PTA has. I work full time and so do others in the PTA, still there are always the same people volunteering at discos and faires, and to be honest we work very hard at these events. But these things don’t happen by themselves, and it is unfair to expect the same parents to do the jobs every single time.
    I am not sure how to increase PTA interest.
    Finally I am also not happy about the mixing of the classes, it is enough in my opinion that they switch teachers every year, let alone class as well.
    At the same time as this I would like to also say that on a positive note the teaching my children have received this year has been fantastic – I couldn’t be happier with their progress.

  6. Thanks Graham,
    I think the communication comments and the feedback on the federation are showing as fairly entwined bedfellows at the moment! Whilst communication seems to be a symptom of many of the concerns I raised, it feels that structure, strategy and implementation are the cause.

    G

  7. Hi Philippa,
    I’m usually found manning the drinks bar (soft drinks only and no fizz!!) at the disco so the PTA comments were not made lightly!
    How about re-start the PTA next term, PTA coffee morning after drop off. Discuss what the PTA does do, can do and should do! Let’s try and recruit some new blood!
    I’m happy to help where I can, like many others work can make it tough, but enough of us working together taking on manageable tasks (rather than 2 or 3 people HAVING to do everything) can make a huge difference.
    Best
    G

  8. In best Columbo style….just one last thing!
    We seem to have the start of a dialogue on here. Given the approaching deadline can we get a text message out advising parents that the minutes have been posted here online and that all feedback is due in by the Monday deadline?
    Thanks
    G

  9. Thanks for your comments Graeme, we wholeheartedly agree with your very salient points, including the fact that we also really believe in and support the school. Our son is just at the end of Year 1 and has loved his time there so far. Our very excited daughter is about to join Reception. With the exception of the Federation, we have also raised these points with the school. In particular, we would agree that communication issues seem to be at the root of a number of issues.

    With regards to the proposals for the Federation, in hindsight perhaps we have been guilty of taking this too lightly. Just for the record, I was one of the parents who stood for the governor position last year but didn’t attend the meeting. Rightly or wrongly it has always seemed to us like a done deal, with the consultation process a tick box exercise. The letter outlining the Federation proposals seemed heavily biased towards the positives, with no real discussion of what the potential negative impacts could be. A more reasoned argument would have been better and would probably have promoted more debate. We are not necessarily against the Federation proposal, as we think that the wider picture of bringing up the standards across all Croydon schools is extremely important. However, Heavers is a good school and we need to be careful to safeguard, and continue to improve upon, the good work already achieved.

    With regards to the PTA. We also arranged our social calendar around the date of the now postponed summer fair, so that at least one of us could help out. We both work and find meetings and/or volunteering during week days problematic, but would like to be involved. If meetings could be held in evenings and actively communicated with plenty of notice then you can count at least one of us in. If I am honest, in the two years at the school, we were not even aware of the PTA for about the first year, so think that there is definitely room to improve communications.

  10. I completely agree with the comments above., After reading the minutes I cannot see that the forming of a Federation with a struggling school will bring any benefit for the Heavers Farm children. My opinion is that it would have been good for parents, teachers and everyone involved in the school to have been given the chance to vote anonymously regarding the proposal. Many of the parents I have spoken to about the federation had the feeling that it was a done deal that is why many people did not attend the meetings. Also, in the event of the proposal not going ahead, what would the situation be then?

    Regarding the PTA I am sorry but I did not know that it even existed. I would be very happy to help and to attend any future meetings as much as my job allows me to.

    Thank you.

  11. Hello Patricia,

    Thank you for your feedback. The governing body have discussed the arrangements of the proposed Federation Governing Body at length. We have taken advice from a range of sources including the NGA, The Key for Governors, the Local Authority and Governor Services. We are bound by statutory guidance when it comes to the constitution of any new governing body. Should this arrangement go ahead we have put stringent measures in place to ensure that both schools would be equally represented.

    As well as looking at the response to the consultation, the governors will look at the progress and attainment of children at both schools before making any decisions. I cannot preempt the outcome of these discussions.

    There are not any plans to change the uniform or the logo at Heavers Farm. This was never part of the proposal. If we do go ahead with the federation and then decide to change the uniform and/or logo at Selsdon this will be planned well in advance. There are no plans to change the uniform at Selsdon this year.

    The proposed federation does not attract additional funding.

    Consultation has been carried out with the children. Pupils were asked to leave their comments on this as Thought for the Week on both school blogs on the 5th May 2014. Pupils have discussed this in class with their teachers and feedback taken. They have also discussed it during their School Council meetings.

    Thank you for your suggestion about increasing parental involvement in meetings. We will reflect on this for the future.

    Thank you again for your comments.

    Best wishes

    Susan

  12. Hello Graeme,

    Thank you for this, it is a good prompt for others to join in the discussion. I know that your feedback has been passed on formally to the governing body for consideration at their meeting next week.

    As you say, the turn-out at the meeting was very low. As tempting as it is to try and guess everyone’s reasons, the truth is that we don’t know. Unfortunately, this is not unusual. I have organised a great many meetings and events at school and we often have a very low attendance rate. We have tried to address it in a variety of ways over the years, however there is only so much that we can do.The PTA has been woefully under-supported for some time. I promote it at every new parents evening, and when I speak to parents. We will look at ways to try and address this more successfully, but we do need more willingness from our parents, because as you say Cleo cannot do this all on her own.

    I am interested that you mention the shared resources page. I set this up with the purely practical aim of having an easily accessible space for teachers to get hold of shared resources. It was not meant as an advert for the benefits of shared working. Whilst I rarely post on there, the resources on the planning and assessment pages are updated regularly. However, this blog is used less and less now as we have been able to link up our secure Fronter online staffrooms. This enables staff to access information, messages, planning and resources at both schools. This is our main resource and communication channel, it is not accessible to anyone who is not staff member.

    I would have to agree with you regarding the teacher exchange that took place. Having spoken to a number of parents about this, this was not communicated clearly enough, or in some cases, at all. This is something that I will address, if we do this again.

    Again, I agree with you about the cancellation of the summer fair. I have spoken to everyone concerned. This will not happen again. The parent workshops are planned for the autumn and spring term each year. We do not offer them in the summer term. We already planning our next cycle of these and I will make sure that the details are shared with everyone at the start of next term.

    I am sorry if you feel that communication has got worse over this year. I have given this a lot of thought. It has been my experience that this has been a complaint from parents for as long as I have been at the school. It is useful for you to raise this, as we clearly are still not getting it right. I did think that with the introduction of the weekly newsletter, this would improve communication between home and school. If the general consensus is that this is not helpful I will ask Cleo to stop doing this. I will wait and see if anyone else does not find this useful.

    Whilst, I do take on board your comments about the school as a parent, as the head of the school I would argue that we are in the strongest position that we have ever been. Children are happy and eager to learn. The majority of the teaching is outstanding and pupils make excellent progress. All of our staff put their heart and soul into the school and there are lots of exciting lessons and activities going on on a daily basis. The parents that I meet and speak to in and around school are overwhelmingly positive. This is not to say that we have got it all right, or that there aren’t things that need improving. This will always be the case.

    Finally, I do not think that the governors, or I, take the attendance of one parent as a mandate for anything. We have held meetings with staff, the trade unions, the Local Authority and our children. We have also been receiving feedback via email and post. The feedback from all of this will inform the governors decision.

    Thank you for taking the time to leave this and for sending to the governors for consideration.

    Best wishes

    Susan

  13. Hello Phillippa,

    Thank you for this. I do understand your point, but would disagree that we are being ‘spread too thin’. The working relationship between both schools has resulted in improvements to the teaching and learning at BOTH schools this year. This has not been a one-way relationship. Selsdon has lots of excellent things going on.

    I do hope that parents reading this take on your comments about the lack of support for the PTA, you are right, the PTA is run by a very small number of people. This has meant that the PTA has not been able to function well this year. It would be helpful if any parent reading this who would like to help out could leave their name below so that the PTA can contact you.

    If you have concerns about the mixing of the classes, please give Andrea Cousins, Head of School, a ring and she would be very happy to meet with you to talk this through.

    Thank you again for your comments.

    Best wishes

    Susan

  14. Hello Lynn,

    Thank you for your comments. I am concerned that you felt that this was a ‘done deal’, this is not the case. We have made every effort to contact our stakeholders to ask for their views. I understand that you, along with many of our parents, cannot attend meetings during the day. We do vary our meeting and workshop times to take account of those who cannot come during the day and those who cannot attend in the evening.

    I apologise if you were not aware of the PTA. I do talk about this, and the importance of every parent getting involved, when I address new parents to Nursery and Reception every year. I have just checked my past presentation slides and this has definitely been the case for at least the past 5 years.

    I agree with you about the poor communication around the cancellation of the summer fair. I have spoken to all of the staff involved and will try to ensure that this does not happen again.

    Thank you again.

    Susan

  15. Dear All
    An update!

    Firstly many thanks to Graham Cluer for his time on the phone today.

    One thing that is clear from our conversation is that the Federation proposals were and still are far from a done deal and it is a shame that any dialogue might have been stifled by this assumption. Similarly it is regrettable that the communication around this topic let that assumption take root.

    From talking to Graham, I now understand that this really is a LONG TERM strategy and there are benefits to a federation structure. Albeit these benefits might take a while to be seen as tangible and deliverable from a parent’s perspective.

    My personal view is that Selsdon is a fair distance from SE25 both geographically and culturally in terms of student mix. This might present some challenges as things move forwards – equally it might open some opportunities that are yet to be recognised or communicated. These differences also highlight the amount of pride that the kids and parents have in Heavers for the school identity and that is born out in some of the comments on this page – I would hope that if the Federation does happen then the identity of Heavers is not diluted.

    So am I pro-Federation? I really can’t say for certain even with the benefit of my chat with Graham. What I do understand a bit more, is that the school management and governors face a lot of pressure for change and re-structuring to operate within the Croydon education system. Change and partnership will be inevitable, if not now then at a later date. Maybe it is better to dictate the pace and nature of that change from a school level rather than have those changes enforced from the top down.

    I still think that there are certain areas which have felt increasingly fragile over the last 12 months and it would be a shame to embark on a Federation journey that puts further pressure on the school. We need to believe that the foundations of Heavers recent success are solid and unshakeable before moving forward.

    If I had to make a recommendation (and having been so vocal on here so far, it would be rather wimpy of me to opt out), then I would say “yes” to the federation following a set of performance and communication criteria being put in place. Those criteria would need to be met within 6 months from the start of the 2014/15 academic year with a view to a federation being formalised Easter 2015. This would also give the whole project greater transparency and focus on delivering real and visible benefits in terms of structure and performance which can only help drive stake holder acceptance and endorsement as well as ensuring that Heavers strengths to date are there to be built on and not jeopardised.

    Graham has assured me that a lot of internal work is going to be undertaken to address the communication issues raised. I think that parents need to accept some responsibility here too, and if things aren’t working, lets make sure we provide feedback appropriately. Similarly if something is great….SAY SO!

    Parents – lets pick up the PTA challenge next term! If we want better communication then we can start by freeing up some of Cleo’s time (but don’t tell her there aren’t really 36 hours in a day!). PLUS a functioning and healthy PTA has to be a benefit to the school and will have it’s own role to play in this kind of discussion. As parents we can’t always just point the finger when ultimately we can’t even run our own support organisation for the school!

    I’ve been noisy and purposefully provocative in places over the last couple of days simply because I believe this dialogue is critical to the future of our children’s school and no-one was actually talking! If this has gone some way to spark a debate and to get people to engage then that is a good thing.

    I have nothing but gratitude and respect for the staff at Heavers – a lot has been achieved that needs to be maintained, my children love the school and it makes me both happy and proud to bring them there every day. Thank you!

    Forwards!
    G

  16. I was one who had not paid attention to the Federation subject because I thought the decision had already been made.

    There are few things that concern me about the Federation proposal.

    Firstly, the proposal appears too general, such that I cannot clearly see any direct benefits for Heavers farm students.

    Secondly, the proposal seems to look at only positive side of it, as if there there no drawbacks at all. Hard to believe! For example — what about inefficiencies and costs involved in travel between the schools? When the proposal emphasizes savings on resources, it should show at least some hard figures.

    Thirdly, being a Federation means that we will effectively have three head teachers instead of only two. Head teachers are very expensive. Do we want to spend pubic funding on that? The business plan should show what the costs will be (including salaries, of course, but also transportation) and what the savings will be, if any.

    Fourthly, if this is a good idea, and we want to make a partnership with another school, why do not we do it with a nearby school rather than the somewhat remote Selsdon school?

    As for the PTA my daughter is in reception but I was not aware what it was until after the meeting was held. Next meeting I will make sure to attend.

  17. Well this is positive about the PTA, it is very odd people not having heard of it as texts do go out before meetings and the PTA did do the Christmas disco and summer faire last year, where volunteers were asked for many times. Anyway onwards and upward, hopefully next term can be a new lease of life for the PTA.

    Thank you or the update from both Ms Papas and Graham. I am still to be convinced of this federation and it’s benefits, but if it’s hoops the school have to jump through anyway it makes sense to starts early I guess. My worry is mainly that our school stops being the fantastic school that it is. I second what you say about our children loving this school, mine do very much and they are thriving. I just hope the school continues to be first priority for its management.

    Wish you all a lovely summer and a fresh start in autumn.
    Philippa

  18. Hello,

    I would like to help out at the PTA. I am a working mum but I am sure I can find some spare time to help.

    Philippa, I have never received any text about PTA meetings that is why I did not know it existed. I did receive a text about helping at the school disco, which was fabulous and I did some of the cooking and decorating the hall. I am definitely available to do the same for next years Christmas disco.

    Best wishes

    Maria Sierra-Monton

  19. Thanks for your response Susan. I realise it must be difficult for you to account for everyone’s availability for meetings. I need to take an action on myself to get more actively involved.

    I still stand by my point on communications across the school. I think it is one thing to send out a communication and think the job is done, another entirely to think about how something is communicated and ensure it has the right impact. I think that important issues such as mixing classes for example, should be communicated/forewarned early and parents engaged in the process, and not left to a letter in a bag.

    With regards to the PTA. I attended the new Reception class evening this week and it was mentioned briefly. However, I think it gets lost in all the information you need to take in as a new parent and then seems not to be mentioned anywhere else. I think you could grasp this opportunity to really hammer home the importance of the PTA and enlist the new parents starting out on their journey with the school whilst they are all keen! Perhaps the PTA could have a desk in the hall in the future, with some colourful pictures of the school events in the previous years, and could give out some info on what’s involved?

    Thanks for listening.

    Lynn.

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