Shrewsbury Colleges Group
Group Minutes of the Board
Date 1st April 22
Time 8.45 a.m.
Minutes Membership In attendance
J, Barratt, A. Benghiat, , B. Greenaway, H. Hawksworth, G. Mills, J. Rowe, R. Sartain, C. Sharp, J. Staniforth (Principal/Chief Executive), M. Thompson, P. Tucker and R. Wilson (Chair).
In Attendance Members of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT):
C. Armstrong, Group Vice Principal, Curriculum Support and Business Development (GVP – CS&BD)
M. Brown, Group Vice Principal, Information and Strategic Development (GVP – I&SD)
D. Lucas, Group Vice Principal – HR & Professional Development (GVP – HR&PD)
S. McAlinden - Director - Curriculum Support (DCS)
P. Partridge – Finance Director (FD)
C. Sears – Director of A Level Studies (DoALS)

D. Pulford – Finance & Business Operations Committee Co-opted Member

T. Cottee - Clerk to the Board
Apologies A. Creighton, E. Rees, J. Sharrock and L. Wright.


01/22.  Declarations of Interest

    1. The Finance Director declared an interest in Minute Number 12/22.
    2. The Clerk to the Board declared an interest in Minute Number 12/22.
    3. The Principal/CEO declared an interest in Minute Number 12/22.

02/22.  Minutes of Meeting Held 13 December 2021 (Appendix – Agenda item 3)

Resolved:  That the Minutes of the meeting held on 13 December 2021, be approved as a true record.

03/22.  Matters Arising


04/22.  Chair’s Announcements

The Chair advised that –

      • two Governor Learning Walks had been scheduled – Performing Arts at the London Road Campus on 06 April 2022 and A Level Modern Foreign Languages at the Welsh Bridge Campus on 16 May 2022. He encouraged governors to attend.
      • All link governors had undertaken their termly link visits. This demonstrated governors’ continuing commitment to engaging in college life and taking an interest in students’ development and progress.
      • He would be attending the College’s Celebrating Student Achievement Awards ceremony on 07 April 2022.

Chair’s Action

In accordance with Standing Order No. 19, the Chair had approved the appointment of Lucy Wright as a Parent Governor of the Board of Shrewsbury Colleges Group with effect from 02 February 2022 for a Three-Year Term and had confirmed her appointment to the Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee.  This Action had been taken to maintain quality governance, the Chair having considered carefully the Board’s succession plan, skills audit returns and the Board’s future skills requirements.

05/22. Principal/CEO’s Report (Confidential Appendix – Agenda item 5a)

The Principal/CEO provided a thorough strategic overview (previously circulated) on the following topics –

    • From 01 April 2022, in line with the government’s plan for removing the remaining legal restrictions with respect to Covid management, the college’s position would effectively be to treat Covid as any other illness. Nevertheless, the impact of Covid remained significant with respect to:
      • student engagement for 16–18-year-olds. However, as a consequence of additional support roles introduced on all three campuses to chase and support students, attendance had stabilised since January 2022.
      • Adult enrolments.
      • Staff absence.
      • In the absence of the government’s confirmation that exams would take place, the college was trying to prepare students for exams from May, whilst also needing the contingency of conducting internal rigorous assessments to provide teacher assessed grades if required.
      • Costs.

Although the college had responded well to these issues, their impact would continue into 2022 – 2023 and beyond.  The Strategy and Development event would include a briefing from the Principal/CEO and Vice Principal- Curriculum Support & Business Development, on the college’s strategy to support students enrolling from September 2022.

    • Regarding the level of applications for September 2022, the Vice Principal- Curriculum Support & Business Development had provided a governor briefing on 16 March 2022, outlining the reasons for the fall in applications (compared to the same time in 2021) and the actions the college was taking to maximise the conversion of applications to enrolments, as well as plans for working with years 9 and 10 and into next year. Whilst the college was alert to the risks, the impact for 2022 - 2023 was partially mitigated as overall progression from the current Year 1 cohort was forecast to be positive. In addition, the college had enrolled significantly more apprentices this year than planned.
    • The college had received in-year growth funding. This was welcomed as the significant challenges students had faced this year had required additional investment. This additional funding had covered additional costs of managing the pandemic, supporting students and the increase in the cost of gas and electricity, food and materials.  It has also allowed the college to pay a one-off bonus to all staff in recognition of the excellent Ofsted judgement.
    • The Board Chair and the senior leadership team had met recently with representatives of the Education Skills and Funding Agency (ESFA) and a member of the Further Education Commissioner’s team for an annual strategic conversation. The visit had been very positive, identifying several areas of good practice to be highlighted in feedback. The visitors had shown a keen interest in the college’s ongoing partnership projects with other colleges.  The college delegation had stressed to the ESFA delegation the need for a planned approach to capital investment in colleges, as growth in both full-time 16-19 students and apprentices had placed significant pressure on general teaching space, specialist facilities and social space at the college.  The Board Chair added that the college delegation also made the point that the focus from government was increasingly on collaboration in further education, but the sector’s funding and capital programmes remained fundamentally competitive in nature.
    • The college had been successful in securing its application for inclusion on the Register of Accredited Training Providers.
    • The college’s students continued to enjoy success in sporting and competitive endeavours, including a student who had recently become a cycling junior hour world record holder.

In response to a question from the Board Chair on the impact of the recent flooding on English Bridge Campus during the February Half Term, the P/CEO confirmed that the impact had been limited and quickly dealt with by the pumps and the estates team.  The measures taken in 2020, to reduce the impact of flooding had been effective, allowing the college to make more and more use of the basement for teaching.  The team would now make some further changes to provide further insurance against similar flooding in the future.  The Board expressed its thanks to the estates team.

Resolved: That the report of the Principal/CEO be noted.

06/22.  Summary of Minutes and Recommendations from Committees (Appendices – Agenda Items 6a – 6e))

Chairs of the committees presented the following meetings, drawing the Board’s attention to items of particular interest and presenting recommendations.

Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee – 24 January 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 6a) (Minutes previously circulated)

In the absence of the Committee Chair, the Board Chair reported that –

    • prior to the Committee meeting, all governors had been invited to an opportunity to consider and validate the College’s Self-Assessment Report (SAR). Going forward, the process of self-assessment would focus on how the college could move to Outstanding.
    • The Committee had welcomed the Head of Quality to the meeting and had considered reports he presented. As part of the changes to the management of quality, the content and presentation of key reports was being reviewed and the Committee looked forward to considering revised reports.

Finance & Business Operations Committee – 08 February 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 6b) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

The Committee Chair gave a brief report on the Committee’s deliberations and presented the following recommendation.

    • Regarding the 2021 – 2022 Outturn, there had been some significant adjustments to forecast since the previous management accounts, reflecting the challenges facing the college as in-year activity levels materialised and which had also been referred to in the Principal/CEO’s Report.
    • The Committee had reviewed funding options available to the college to progress the Draft Estates Strategy. This report would be considered by the Estates Strategy Working Group at its next meeting.

07/22.  College Financial Regulations (Appendix – Agenda item 6bi)

The Committee had reviewed minor revisions made to the College’s Financial Regulations (previously circulated) to ensure they remained robust and effective.  The Committee had requested that the Regulation which required that contracts for the provision of serves to the college specify the maximum duration of the contract and not exceed five years be amended to make specific reference to the requirement to tender external audit services every five years.

Resolved:  That the College Financial Regulations, as revised, be approved.

Search & Governance Committee – 09 March 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 6c) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

The Committee Chair gave a brief report on the Committee’s deliberations and presented the following recommendations.

The Committee had considered the draft Board Equality Strategy Framework, in accordance with the recommendation arising from the external board review conducted earlier in 2021 (S&G Min. No. 21/21 refers) and in anticipation of recommendations from the FE Skills for Jobs White Paper to improve governance practice through broadening the overall diversity of boards.  It supported the clear expectation that, nationally, boards must work harder to diversify their memberships and agreed that the Board Equality Strategy Framework be further developed to improve the gender balance and broaden diversity of the Board.

08/22.  Committee Appointments

Finance & Business Operations Committee Co-opted Committee Member

The One Year Term of the current co-opted Finance & Business Operations Committee member was due to expire.  As the Estates Strategy Working Group, of which they were a member, had not yet completed its work, the Committee agreed that their Term should be extended for a further year to 31 March 2023.

Resolved:  That the Term of Mr D. Pulford as a Finance & Business Operations Committee co-opted member be extended for One Year, to support the continuing work of Estates Strategy Working Group and the search for co-opted committee member candidates with appropriate professional expertise to support the development of the College’s estate strategy.

Search & Governance Committee Membership

The Committee had a vacancy for a member.  Having invited J. Rowe to the meeting as an observer and in recognition of his valued input with respect to advising the Committee on diversity, it had extended an invitation to him to join the Committee as a member, which he had accepted.

Resolved:  That J. Rowe be appointed to the Search & Governance Committee with effect from 01 April 2022.

Audit Committee – 16 March 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 6d) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

The Committee Chair gave a brief report on the Committee’s deliberations and presented the following recommendation.

    • Prior to the meeting of the Committee, the GVP, CS&BD had given a presentation to members and governors on the latest position regarding enrolments to the college for the 2022 – 2023 year and how the emerging associated risks were being mitigated.
    • The Committee had received the latest suite of Internal Audit Service (IAS) Assurance Reports, all of which had provided assurance. The review which had considered the arrangements for receiving cashless payments across the college campuses, including how cashless payment cards were topped up, transactions recorded and accounted for in the finance system had been a particularly valuable piece of assurance work, to ensure that the cashless system was responsive and secure.

09/22.  Risk Register and Board Assurance Framework (BAF) (Appendix – Agenda Item 6di)

The Committee had reviewed the 2021 – 2022 Risk Register and Board Assurance Framework (previously circulated).  Regarding the risk of significant under recruitment of planned 16-18 learner numbers in 2022 - 2023, the Register had been updated to include the risk mitigation actions reported to governors in the briefing prior to the meeting.  The Committee had concluded that the risks had been appropriately identified and the management actions reported were effectively mitigating these risks.

Resolved: That

    1. the Risk Register and Board Assurance Framework (BAF) – March 2022 update, be approved: and
    2. the risks identified for the 2021 – 2022 Risk Register and BAF, as amended, be approved.

Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee – 21 March 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 6e) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

The Board Chair reported that the Committee had -

    • reviewed the Draft Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) 2021 – 2022.
    • The Committee had agreed that the Plan form the ‘core’ of the Committee’s Workplan going forward, with highest priority actions providing topics for more in-depth discussion and that reports on the progress against the Plan be reported back to the Committee.
    • received verbal reports from the Equality & Diversity and Safeguarding Link Governors on their activities, which had consisted of a blend of formal meetings and informal learning walks.
    • discussed the key risks for this year, which included lower retention and lower attendance due to covid disruption which would impact achievement rates and impact outcomes. High target grades in 2020 (based on CAG GCSEs) set against a lower profile of exam grades in 2022 (as announced by Ofqual) were also likely to lead to lower value-added outcomes for this cohort. The Committee sought assurance on the actions being taken to mitigate these risks.
    • The Committee also took an opportunity to review the Committee’s terms of reference and identify how it wished to work going forward. The Committee recognised that it had a wide remit and agreed that a suggested Terms, based on assessment of other colleges’ committee terms and best practice and informed by the revised Draft Quality Enhancement Plan, be developed further at the next meeting.

10/22.  Risk (Agenda Item 07)

The Board reviewed those risks specific to the Board.

11/22.  Date of Next Meeting – Scheduled Meeting – Monday, 23 May 2022 from 5.30 p.m.  Venue – tbc.


It was agreed that Minute Numbers 12, 13, 14 & 15 be considered as confidential items under Instrument 16(2) (c) and (d) and Standing Order 11. 

12/22. Draft Confidential Minutes and Recommendations

Confidential Minutes of Meeting Held 13 December 2021 (Confidential Appendix – Agenda Item 9a)

Resolved:  That the Minutes of the meeting held on 13 December 2021, be approved as a true record.

13/22.  Summary of Minutes and Recommendations from Committees (Confidential Appendix – Agenda Item 9b)

Audit Committee – 16 March 2022 (Confidential Appendix – Agenda Item 9b) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

The Committee Chair gave a brief report on the Committee’s deliberations and presented the following recommendation.

14/22. Tender for Internal Audit Service and Financial Statement Audit Service

The College had tendered for the delivery of internal audit and financial statements audit services, as the current contracts were due to expire in July 2022.  After thorough evaluation, based on price and quality of submission, the shortlisted firms were invited to present to an Evaluation Panel consisting of the Committee Chair, Principal/CEO, Finance Director and Finance Manager.  Shortlisted firms were given the opportunity to expand on their proposals.  However, the focus was for the Panel to explore how firms could work with the college and how they could add value going forward. 

Having considered the report of the Committee Chair and conclusion of the Evaluation Panel, based on tender submission quality, price and evidence of additional value offered to the college

Resolved:  That –

    1. Haines Watts be appointed as the college Internal Audit Service provider for a period of five years from 01 August 2022 to 31 July 2027 at a cost of £425 per day plus VAT (£14,875 plus VAT based on 35 days)
    2. Bishop Fleming be appointed as the college Financial Statements auditor provider from for a period of five years from 01 August 2022 to 31 July 2027 at a cost of £35,175 plus VAT per anum.

15/22. Recruitment of Vice Principal – Technical & Vocational Education (Confidential Appendix – Agenda item 10)

The Board received an Assurance Report (previously circulated) on the recruitment of the Vice-Principal – Technical & Vocational Education.  The Board Vice Chair had participated in the recruitment process and he reported that he has been assured as to the rigour, validity and fairness of the recruitment process.  The successful applicant had been invited to attend the Strategic Development Day.

The Board commended the college on the successful outcome of the process.

16/22. Governance Pack

The Board noted a letter submitted from the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) confirming that Conditions of Funding imposed on the College had been lifted.


The meeting concluded at 09.31 a.m.