Shrewsbury Colleges Group
Group Minutes of the Board
Date 10th October 22
Time 5.30pm
Minutes Membership J, Barratt, A. Benghiat, B. Greenaway, R. Harrison, G. Mills, R. Sartain, C. Sharp, J. Sharrock, J. Staniforth (Principal/Chief Executive), M. Thompson, P. Tucker, B. Wilson and R. Wilson (Chair).
In Attendance Members of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT):
C. Armstrong, Vice Principal, Students & Partnerships (VP – S&P)
M. Brown, Vice Principal, Quality, Apprenticeships & Information (VP – Q, A & I)
M. Laws, Vice Principal, Technical & Vocational Education (VP – T&VE)
D. Lucas, Vice Principal – People (VP – P)
S. McAlinden – Assistant Director - Curriculum Support (AD, CS)
P. Partridge – Executive Director of Finance (EDF)
C. Sears – Vice Principal, A Level Studies (VP - ALS)

T. Cottee - Clerk to the Board
Apologies A Caesar-Homden, N. Stitch and L. Wright.


37/22. Declarations of Interest

R. Wilson, with respect to Minute Number 39/22. He withdrew from the meeting during consideration of the item at which his application for a second term was considered.

38/22. Change to Agenda Order

The following item was presented, to complete the process for appointments to the Board.

39/22. Search & Governance Committee 05 October 2022 - Appointments to Board (Agenda Item 8.b.i)

16 – 19 Student Governor
Following a Notice of Vacancy, the Student Union Executive had nominated Ben Wilson (second year A Level student) to the 16 – 19 Student Governor vacancy.

Resolved that: Ben Wilson be appointed as 16 - 19 Student Governor for a One Year Term, with effect from 11 October 2022 and be appointed to the Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee as a co-opted committee member.

Action: Clerk to support newly appointed governor in Induction.

Having declared an interest, R. Wilson left the meeting at this point.

Independent Governor
Having considered the Board’s current skills analysis, Mr Wilson’s skills and contribution to the Board during his First Term, the Search & Governance Committee had agreed to recommend that he be appointed for a Second Term of 4 years from 25 March 2023 – 31 March 2027 (i.e., to run consecutively on the completion of his First Term).

Resolved that: Roger Wilson be appointed for a Second Term of 4 years from 25 March 2023 – 31 March 2027 (i.e., to run consecutively on the completion of his First Term).

R. Wilson re-joined the meeting at this point.

40/22. Election of Board Chair

Having been proposed by G. Mills and seconded by J. Sharrock, R Wilson was appointed Board Chair for a Two-Year Period.

Action: Clerk to advise appropriate agencies

R. Wilson in the Chair

41/22. Minutes of Meeting Held 11 July 2022 (Appendix – Agenda item 4)

Resolved: That the Minutes of the meeting held on 11 July 2022, be approved as a true record.

42/22. Matters Arising


43/22. Chair’s Announcements

The Chair –

      • Welcomed those present to the first Board meeting of the Academic Year.
      • Welcomed B. Wilson, the Student Governor (16 – 19) and Independent Governor, R. Harrison to their first Board meetings.
      • J. Rowe had, due to a change in working commitments, regretfully resigned from the Board. The Search & Governance Committee had approached a suitable candidate on the Waiting List for interview.
      • Advised that the first Learning Walk of the year, to view land in the college’s ownership at London Road Campus and Wakeman Fields, Shrewsbury had taken place on 30 August 2022. The next Learning Walk would be on vocational provision on Friday, 09 December 2022.
      • The Autumn Governor Social would take place on 09 November 2022.

44/22. Principal/CEO’s Report (Confidential Appendix – Agenda item 7)

The Board had been given the opportunity to view in advance the P/CEO’s overview of 2021-22 and strategic issues for 2022-2023. This presentation set out in detail information on -

      1. Context July 2021 and 2022: Students and curriculum
      2. Achievements against 2021 – 2022 General Targets
      3. Review of
        • provision and results for A levels
        • BTECs
        • GCSE English & Maths
        • other qualifications
      4. Reviews of
        • Progression into Higher Education: Academic and Vocational
        • Adult Work
        • Higher Education provision
        • Teaching & Development
        • Student Sporting Achievements
        • Student Support Programme
        • Safeguarding and student well-being
        • Estates and I.T. Summer Works
      5. 2022 – 23 Year – Short- & Medium-Term Focus and General Targets
      6. The importance of Energy Efficiency and sustainability
      7. Enrolments to Date
      8. Student Centred Ethos and the Importance of Culture

The P/CEO made the following additional observations -

    • Preparations for 2023 – 2024. The P/CEO confirmed that, as the college had enrolled a smaller cohort in September 2022, this would impact on the 2023 – 2024 Budget; the most significant short-term strategic issue being the loss of anticipated income, although the retraction of the anticipated increase in National Insurance contributions was an unexpected benefit. The P/CEO had attended 16 schools to date, to talk to Year 11s about opportunities to enrol at the college in 2023 – 2024 and the college was holding four open evenings across the sites this Term. Whilst the opportunity to engage the schools earlier than last year was welcomed, as it provided the opportunity to understand the enrolment landscape and maintain a positive relationships, some schools had continued a practice of non-engagement started in 2019 - 2020. In response to questions on how the college would respond to enrolling lower than planned numbers of full-time students, the P/CEO explained that the college had conducted whole staff planning in the summer of 2022 with the results that through setting a culture of high expectations and implementing the SCG30 programme, retention had significantly improved on this point in 2021 – 2022, and there was an ongoing expectation that the college retained those students who had enrolled.
    • The Importance of Energy Efficiency. The college faced a significant financial challenge managing the impact of fuel price rises and the general cost of living. In response to questions, the EDF explained that –
      • energy prices now secured by the college for the period April 2023 – March 2024 were more than 100% higher than planned. Existing fixed-price gas and electricity contracts ending on 31 March 2023, had been replaced with 12-month fixed-price contracts ending on March 2024. The government support package did not include details and the long-term impact was uncertain.
      • The college was taking steps to reduce its exposure to increasing prices by reducing energy consumption generally through prudent management and specifically through voltage optimisation which would reduce electrical power use by c10% and would pay for itself within 12 months. The college would continue to review heating use across the campuses and the recent installation of new glazing in the Main Block at the London Road Campus had further reduced heat loss.

Political Landscape – national and local level. The imminent Budget Statement was unlikely to offer any relief or additional funding; indeed, it was possible that the sector may experience cuts, to protect other parts of education and other sectors. The P/CEO observed that the Office for National Statistic’s decision on the sector’s status was now crucial, as this could affect the sector’s ability to borrow going forward.

    • Achievements against General Targets – Retention. The college had not met its 2021 - 2022 targets for attendance and retention. In response to questions on this, the P/CEO explained that –
      • some students had not been as prepared for the college experience in terms of maturity, behaviour and attitudes to learning as would normally be expected, due to the interruptions to normal learning caused by the impact of the pandemic and lockdowns. The college had invested in additional student support, tuition and made interventions in year, which were continuing into the current academic year. Each student withdrawal had also been reviewed and analysed for trends, and interventions for 2022 – 2023 put in place.
      • this phenomenon had been reported across the sector, with numbers of young people being less resilient to the requirements of study and ‘lost’ from further education as a result. The college had taken the opportunity to learn from this and put in place interventions to improve attendance, resilience and engagement, working closely with staff during June and July 2022, on setting and managing expectations for the 2022 – 2023 cohort. These had already had a positive impact, with teaching staff reporting this cohort much improved in terms of commitment and intention to study.
    • In conclusion, whilst the challenges of the year had been numerous, the Board acknowledged the many student and staff successes over 2021 – 2022, including the number of First Class Degrees awarded to higher education students, sporting achievements, the impact of the positive relationship with the Radbrook Foundation in terms of increasing financial support for students and the achievements of the estates and I.T. teams in delivering projects to tight deadlines. The Board Chair also referred to the recent staff survey and that 97% of staff were proud to work at the college and observed that the college was, despite ongoing and significant challenges, in a good position.

45/22. Strategic Plan Year 1 Implementation Plan - Review and Year 2 Implementation Plan (Confidential Appendices – Agenda Item 7)

The Board reviewed progress against the Strategic Plan Year One Implementation Plan (previously circulated). The Board was invited by the P/CEO to review the projects identified for Year Two.

In response to questions, the P/CEO reported that the college had achieved most projects in the 2021 – 2022 Plan to target, although some would carry forward into 2022 – 2023.

In response to questions seeking assurance that the projects in the 2022 – 2023 Plan around T Levels would be delivered, the VP, V&TE reported on the actions he had taken since his appointment in May 2022 and the further actions planned for the year ahead. The feedback from the external support team was that the college was very well placed for delivery from September 2023. There was an increasing level of awareness amongst young people and parents about T levels and this presented an exciting opportunity for the college.

In response to a question asking of the college had mitigations should it become unlikely that the college could deliver a ‘Good’ Financial Health Score, the P/CEO explained that, whilst there was an expectation that the college achieve this in 2022 – 2023, even if multiple risks were realised, it may prove more challenging going forward due to the financial impact of the reduced 2022 – 2023 enrolment and the cost of escalating energy bills.

Having reviewed both documents, the Board supported having a challenging and ambitious Year Two operational plan; however, it acknowledged the uncertainty of the current climate and the impact this may have on delivering work streams to target and requested a progress update in March 2023.

46/22. Summary of Minutes and Recommendations from Committees (Appendices – Agenda Items 8a – 8b)

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

Finance & Business Operations Committee – 27 September 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 8.a.) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

The Committee Chair gave a verbal update on the committee’s deliberations. It had reviewed the Annual Human Resources & Development Report outlining the key strategic progress made with People Management over the 2022 – 2023 academic year. The Committee had acknowledged the many positive outcomes from the latest staff survey, including the strong rankings against the benchmarking group and had thanked the VP and the HR Team for their hard work during the year.

The Committee Chair presented the following recommendation -

47/22. Estates Strategy – Capital Funding Grant Bids: Autumn 2022 (Confidential Appendix – Agenda Item 8.a.i.)

As requested by the Committee, the Board reviewed a confidential Briefing Paper (previously circulated) from the EDF on –

      • progress on the capital projects feasibility studies commissioned in anticipation of demographic growth to increase teaching space and improve the quality of student experience (Further to Board Min. No. 21/22);
      • A capital project for a creation of a Renewable Energy Centre (REC), suitable for a new grant funding opportunity made available in late July 2022, by the Marches LEP. The project had been developed over the summer, to ‘shovel ready’ stage and a planning application submitted to the Planning Authority. Despite this bid being unsuccessful, the project remained a candidate for funding through the Post-16 Capacity Fund and the Board supported the development of the project as it would offer an enhanced learning experience for students, support the growth of skills and potentially unlock other aspects of the Estates Strategy.

These projects all required an element of match funding from the college and the approval of a capital contribution. Due to the current sensitivity and uncertainty on energy costs and the increased cost of borrowing, materials and labour, there was an inherent risk to the college’s financial health going forward, which required a re-assessment before decisions on which bids to develop, could be taken.

Having carefully considered the EDF’s Brief and received assurance as to the impact on cash flow and risks to financial health, it was
Resolved that:

      1. The Renewable Energy Centre at London Road Campus capital project be pursued and that the college commits to match funding of 20% of the bid cost; and
      2. The capital project for improvements to the Quarry Building and Learning Resources Centre at the Welsh Bridge Campus be put forward as a Post-16 Capacity Fund bid and the college commits to match funding of 20% of the bid cost.
      3. The EDF continue to develop plans for redevelopment of the Austin Building at Welsh Bridge Campus so that this project would be ready and in a stronger position should appropriate and sufficient grant funding be made available in the future.

Search & Governance Committee – 05 October 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 10b) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

The Committee Chair gave a brief report on the Committee’s deliberations.

      1. Several candidates had expressed an interest in the HE Student Governor vacancy. It was anticipated that a nominee would be appointed at the December 2022 Board meeting.
      2. The Board Chair had directed the Clerk to create an Individual Governor Development Record Card, to effectively track development undertaken. He reminded all governors to report to the Clerk any development undertaken.

48/22. Committee membership 2022 – 2023

Resolved: the Committee Membership 2022 – 2023, with effect from 10 October 2022

Audit Committee

J. Barratt
R. Harrison
R. Sartain
C. Sharp
M. Thompson

Estates Strategy Working Group

B. Greenaway
G. Mills
P. Partridge (Executive Director, Finance)
D. Pulford (co-opted committee member)
R. Sartain
J. Staniforth (Principal/CEO)
P. Tucker
M. Thompson
R. Wilson

Finance and Business Operations Committee

D. Pulford (co-opted committee member) *
G. Mills
N. Stitch
P. Tucker
J. Staniforth (Principal/CEO)
R. Wilson

Quality Standards and Curriculum Committee

J Barratt
A Benghiat
A. Caesar-Homden
J. Sharrock
R. Wilson (ex-officio)
L. Wright
Student Governors (co-opted committee members)

Remuneration Committee

G. Mills
C. Sharp
J. Sharrock
R. Wilson

Search & Governance Committee

B. Greenaway
G. Mills
J. Staniforth
R. Wilson (Chair)

Link Governors and Governor Representatives

J. Barratt – Apprenticeships & Skills
A. Benghiat – H.E.
C. Sharp – Audit & Risk
J. Sharrock – Safeguarding, PREVENT
R. Sartain – H&S.
L. Wright - SEND & E&D

Radbrook Foundation – R. Sartain

49/22. Risk (Agenda Item 11)

The Board reviewed those risks specific to the Board. The P/CEO advised that several strategic risks would be ‘retired’ and the 2022 - 2023 Strategic Risk Register would be presented to the Board at its December meeting.

50/22. Governance Assurance Pack

The Board received a comprehensive Governance Assurance Pack (previously circulated), including the following -

Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee – Reports

      1. Student Outcomes 2021 – 2022. Key Achievements and Strategies for Enhancement - Academic & Vocational
      2. Higher Education Access & Participation Plan
      3. Assurance Reports –
        1. Safeguarding
        2. Prevent Duty
        3. SEND
      4. Board KPIs 2021- 2022 including Attendance Record of Governors 2021 – 2022. The Board continued to demonstrate a track record of progress in achievement and improvement against targets set.
      5. Register of Confidential Items considered by Board 2021 – 2022.

51/22. Date of Next Meeting – Scheduled Meeting – Monday, 12 December 2022 from 5.30 p.m. Venue – London Road Campus.


It was agreed that Minute Number 52/22, be considered as confidential under Instrument 16 and Standing Order 11 and that, in accordance with Instrument 13(5) (d), Staff and Student Governors, members of the Senior Leadership Team and affected Staff be excluded.
Staff and Student Governors, members of the Senior Leadership Team
and the P/CEO left the meeting at this point.

52/22. Verbal Report of Chair

The Board received a verbal report of the Board Chair, updating those present on performance management arrangements for Senior Post Holders.

The Chair had previously issued the survey results from the questionnaire related to the Chair and the Clerk. Overall the results were good. Governors discussed the results and the Chair agreed to provide more information to the governors in future on the results of appraisals with the CEO and Clerk. It was agreed that the survey had been useful and could be repeated annually at academic year end.

 The meeting concluded at 7.31 p.m.