PART I – OPEN ITEMS
17/22. Declarations of Interest
18/22. Minutes of Meeting Held 01 April 2022 (Appendix – Agenda item 3)
Resolved: That the Minutes of the meeting held on 01 April 2022, be approved as a true record.
19/22. Matters Arising
20/22. Chair’s Announcements
The Chair advised that –
- Governors had attended a wide variety of college events since the last meeting.
- All link governors had undertaken their termly link visits.
- The Terms of H. Hawksworth - Staff Governor, A Creighton, the H.E. Student Governor and E. Rees, the 16 – 19 Student Governor would conclude on 31 July 2022. Gifts of appreciation and, for the student governors, certificates of achievement, were presented to each governor on behalf of the Board. The Board Chair and other governors expressed their thanks for their support and commitment to the Board.
- The Clerk to the Board was working on recruitment campaigns for the upcoming student governor and staff governor vacancies.
- A social event would be held in the Autumn Term 2022, to which all current and former governors who had left the Board since March 2020, would be invited.
- He would be meeting the newly appointed chairs of Telford College and Herefordshire, Ludlow and North Shropshire College during August 2022.
The Chair took the opportunity to reflect on the 2021/22 year, noting that, despite facing many challenges, the college had achieved much, including successfully returning to full face-to-face teaching, achieving the grade 2 OFSTED outcome with Outstanding elements, maintaining financial stability whilst managing the continuing costs of Covid, achieving strong apprenticeship enrolment and embarking on an exciting estate strategy. He expressed his thanks to the Principal/CEO, Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and the college staff. He also thanked the Board, Vice-Chair, link governors and the Radbrook Foundation for their continued support, high level of engagement and commitment to the college. Overall, the college was in a strong position to face the challenges of the next year.
21/22. Principal/CEO’s Report (Confidential Appendix – Agenda item 5a)
The Principal/CEO provided the report (previously circulated) on the following topics –
- Applications for September 2022 – latest figures and changing patterns of applications from year 11 students, including applications from Shrewsbury schools. The college was currently predicting a slightly smaller student number in September 2022, than in September 2021, following three years of significant growth. In response to questions on the analysis presented, the P/CEO explained that the decline in 16 - 19 applications should be taken in the context of the continued impact of Covid-19, the large numbers enrolled in 2020/2021 and this year’s smaller Year 11 cohort. Additionally, schools had promoted their own sixth forms and post-16 provision, in addition to limiting the college’s access to their careers advice programme during 2021/2022, which could also affect enrolment going forward.
- Regarding the roll-over from Year 1 to Year 2, due to the lower-than-expected level of student retention in 2021/2022, the number of students moving into the second year of A Levels or an Extended Diploma, was not as high as recruitment in September 2021, might have suggested. In response to questions on this, the P/CEO explained that this decline was, in part, due to the ongoing labour shortages in retail and hospitality attracting young people into work and the changing views of the world following the exceptional events of the last 30 months, which had also resulted in a decline in student attendance and engagement. From 2022/2023, however, Year 11 numbers next year would grow, moving into a period of sustained demographic growth. In addition, through its ongoing investment in additional student support, setting clear expectations at enrolment and induction for all students, further investment in additional roles to improve curriculum management, and by ensuring high quality teaching and learning, the college was well placed to meet the challenges going forward.
- Bids for the Post-16 Capacity Fund, established to support demographic increases in 16–18-year-olds, would open in the autumn. The Estates Strategy Working Group had identified projects from the College Estates Strategy for which feasibility studies had been commissioned. The Board supported having in place a strong project plan to submit when the opportunity arose as a successful bid outcome would allow the college to deliver extra capacity from September 2024, when the next phase of (demographic) growth was expected.
- Planning was challenging due to the lack of coherence in government policy and the current instability at senior ministerial level. For example, at the same time that the DfE was being lobbied for additional funding for teacher pay to address the acknowledged recruitment crisis the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) would now reclaim under-delivery of the Adult Education budget unless 97% of delivery was achieved
- The Skills and Post-16 Education Act placed a legal requirement on colleges to work with Employer Representative Bodies (ERBs) to develop skills plans to meet the needs of the local area. This would be delivered via a Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP). Governors would need to conduct a regular (every three years) review that the college curriculum did meet the needs of the local area. Shropshire Business Board had bid to lead a LSIP for the Marches area (Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, and Herefordshire). The Board acknowledged that there would be potentially difficult strategic discussions going forward, due to the tension between ensuring solvency and the new obligation to meet local skills needs and agreed that the theme be included in the 2023 Strategic Event.
- Student achievement. The Board expressed its pride in the many students who, despite a year of challenge, had achieved academic and sporting success in competitions through the support of and encouragement of staff.
Resolved: That the report of the Principal/CEO be noted.
22/22. Strategic Development Event – 01 April 2022 (Confidential Appendix – Agenda Item 7)
The Board reviewed a precis of the Strategic Development Event held on 01 April 2022 (previously circulated).
The Event had included a facilitated session on the Estates Strategy ‘Roadmap’ developed by the Estates Strategy Working Group. After discussing the conclusions of that session, it was AGREED that a Learning Walk of the London Road Campus and land in the college’s ownership at Wakeman Fields be undertaken prior the 2022/23 year.
23/22. Governor Development Briefing – T Levels (Appendix – Agenda Item 8)
The Board received the report (previously circulated) of the VP – V&T, on –
- The government’s T Level implementation timeline and impact so far;
- The potential impact on the college of the withdrawal of funding from qualifications, such as BTECS, due to the overlap of content with T Levels;
- The college’s T Level implementation route, which would see the introduction of 7 T-Level pathways from September 2023, including details of the strategic steps being taken to ensure T Level readiness.
The Board acknowledged that the college had to work with and educate partner schools, strategic partners, employers, parents and future students about T-Levels, so they had confidence in the quality and validity of the courses offered. The college would also invest further in developing teachers’ skills to deliver a high-quality learning experience.
In response to questions, the VP explained that –
- Universities were accepting T level qualifications, although the sector had been initially slow to accept the qualification, possibly due to confusion or reluctance;
- Going forward, uptake of the T Level pathways offered would depend on student choice and pathway;
- The college could source the expected number of industry placements required.
24/22. The Safest College Strategy (Appendix – Agenda Item 9)
The VP, CS&BD presented (previously circulated) the draft Safest College Strategy, developed in consultation with students (including student governors), staff and stakeholders.
The purpose of the Strategy was to:
- Provide a safe, supportive and engaging environment for students and staff in which to study and work;
- Be responsive and informed regarding local and national safeguarding and wellbeing agendas; and
- Embed safety, respect and friendship across all college activities with students, including online.
In response to an observation from the E&D Link Governor, the GVP agreed to revise the Draft Strategy to include reference to the role of parents and carers.
Resolved: That the Safest College Strategy be approved, as revised.
25/22. Summary of Minutes and Recommendations from Committees (Appendices – Agenda Items 10a – 6g))
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 – 05 April 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 10a) (Minutes previously circulated)
Finance & Business Operations Committee – 24 April 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 10b) (Minutes previously circulated)
The Committee Chair gave a verbal update and presented the following recommendations.
26/22. Fees Policy 2022 – 2023 (Confidential Appendix – Agenda Item 10bi)
The Board reviewed (previously circulated) the proposed College Fees Policy for 2022 - 2023.
Resolved: That the Fees Policy 2022 – 2023, be approved.
27/22. Draft Subcontractor Management, Retained Funding Policy2022 - 2023 (Appendix – Agenda Item 10bii)
The Board reviewed (previously circulated) the Draft Subcontractor Policy for 2022 – 2023.
Resolved: That the Subcontractor Management, Retained Funding Policy 2022 - 2023, be approved.
Search & Governance Committee – 18 May 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 10c) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)
The Committee Chair gave a brief report on the Committee’s deliberations.
- J. Barratt had accepted the opportunity to fill the Link Governor vacancy for Apprenticeships and C. Sharp, as Audit Committee Chair, had accepted the Link Governor for Audit & Risk vacancy.
- The Notice of Vacancy for the Academic Staff Governor would commence with a view to securing an appointment before 01 September 2022.
- The Committee had agreed that the Board’s focus at this point should be on delivering the Strategic Development Plan and taking the opportunity to reflect on governance practices. The annual committee evaluations would continue as they provided useful information and assurance on the effectiveness of governance arrangements.
Audit Committee – 15 June 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 10d) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)
The Committee Chair gave a brief report on the Committee’s deliberations and presented the following recommendations.
- Prior to the meeting, the EDF had given a presentation on the risk management of the English Bridge Campus building project and how the emerging associated risks were being mitigated.
- The Committee had reviewed the latest suite of Internal Audit Service (IAS) Assurance Reports, all of which had provided assurance.
- The remaining Assurance Reports undertaken by the departing IAS, together with their final Annual Report, would be presented to the meeting of the Committee in November 2023.
28/22. Financial Statement Auditors 2021 – 2022 Audit Plan and Strategy (Appendix – Agenda item 10di)
The Financial Statement Auditor’s Plan and Strategy (previously circulated) for the year ended 30 July 2022, provided an overview of the nature of the audit work and key aspects of the audit.
Resolved: that the Financial Statement Auditors 2021 – 2022 Audit Plan and Strategy be approved.
29/22. Risk Register and Board Assurance Framework (BAF) (Appendix – Agenda Item 10dii)
The ED, F explained the risks identified and mitigating actions being undertaken –
- Regarding the risk of significant under-recruitment of planned 16-18 learner numbers in 2022-23, the Register had been updated to include the risk mitigation previously reported to governors. In response to questions, the EDF confirmed that the college was modelling against expected enrolments for 2022 – 2023 and the consequent impact on funding for 2023 – 2024.
- Regarding the risk of failure to deliver planned Adult Education Budget (AEB) allocation in response to questions, the EDF confirmed that the financial forecast had anticipated the clawback; this was reported in the Management Accounts commentary sent to all governors.
The P/CEO had invited the Board to consider the Register and raise through the Clerk any particular risk issues they wished to be the subject of future pre-meeting presentations to all governors.
The Committee had concluded that the risks had been appropriately identified and the management actions reported were effectively mitigating these risks. It had also agreed that it would be helpful going forward, if the IAS and FSA attended the committee pre-meeting presentations, to receive assurance on the college’s risk assessment ‘culture’.
- the Risk Register and Board Assurance Framework (BAF) – July 2022 update, be approved: and
- the risks identified for the 2021 – 2022 Risk Register and BAF, as amended, be approved.
Finance & Business Operations Committee – 29 June 2022 (Appendix – Agenda item 10e)
(Draft Minutes previously circulated)
The Committee had received the Period 10 Management Accounts and the EDF explained the risks identified and mitigating actions being undertaken.
Regarding the confirmation that the ESFA would claw-back funding for any under-delivery below the 97% threshold for the 2021/22 allocation (as reported in Board Min No 21/2 above), the Committee had agreed that the combination of local restrictions in autumn 2020 and the national lockdown had disrupted the college’s ability to meet this year’s targets, so this news was disappointing.
The Board sought assurance that the college was taking appropriate mitigating action whilst recognising the exceptional nature of the challenges and therefore the finite limit on mitigations. The EDF explained that the GVP – QA&I and his Team were focussed on ensuring maximum possible starts and completions during the remaining academic year and had employed temporary teaching staff where possible, to support this.
30/22. College Financial Forecast and Draft Budget 2022/23 (Confidential Appendix – Agenda Item 10ei)
The Board reviewed the Draft Budget and revised two-year Financial Plan (previously circulated).
The EDF had given a detailed presentation to the Committee and explained the following key points to the Board –
- The planned income and expenditure had been based on carefully considered assumptions and scenario planning.
- The confirmed 16-19 funding allocation rose significantly in 2022/23 as a result of growth in student numbers and the additional funding for additional activity.
- The 16-19 allocation for 2023/24, was currently planned to fall due to a lower retention factor, a small fall in student numbers, loss of Tuition Funding and loss of funding for Industrial placements.
- Regarding Adult Education delivery, the budget assumed 100% delivery in 2022/23.
- Regarding Apprenticeship income, the significant growth in 2021/22, was expected to roll over into similar growth in 2022/23, as existing apprentices continued. In response to a question from the Board Chair, the EDF confirmed that the college had the capacity to meet this increase in the short term, but not in the medium term.
- Regarding pay expenditure, whilst the Board acknowledged the impact of continued investment in tuition catch up and student support and assumed pay cost inflation, it supported the college’s approach to investing in teaching staff to support students.
- Regarding Capital Expenditure - 2022/23 expenditure had been increased to enable substantial condition and space improvements across the campuses. However, 2023/24 saw significantly reduced capital expenditure to reflect lower cash available due to lower EBITDA.
- The Board noted that the Draft Budget planned to retain a Financial Score of ‘Good’. However, EBITDA as a percentage of income would fall in 2023/24.
The Board, having reviewed the Draft Budget and considered the EDF’s presentation, concluded –
- The 2022/23 Draft Budget enabled the college to manage the known financial challenges presented, as it included prudent assumptions regarding pay and non-pay costs made.
- The 2023/24 financial position was very challenging with significant risks around pay and non-pay cost inflation plus reductions in pandemic, other 16-19 funding and other uncertainties, such as fuel costs and the impact of possible further education sector reclassification. It was likely that the college would have a reduced Financial Health score within the ‘Good’ category due to EBITDA expected to be below 5%.
Resolved: That the Draft Budget and revised two-year Financial Plan, as amended, be approved.
Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee – 04 July 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 9f)
(Draft Minutes circulated at the meeting)
The Committee Chair reported that –
- The Committee had received a development briefing on the college’s arrangements for supporting students designated as Looked After Young People (LAYP). The college had chosen to invest in additional resources and recruit a LAYP Progression Specialist to support this cohort, as research suggested that children in care could have poorer outcomes in respect of educational achievement, due to disrupted learning and education, in addition to other areas of their lives. As a direct result of this and the clear commitment of the staff to secure the best possible outcomes, key indicators including Retention, Meeting Target Grade and Attendance had improved for this cohort.
- The Committee had reviewed progress against achievement targets in the Quality Enhancement Plan. The QEP format had been revised to improve the assurance information given to the Committee and to provide more opportunity to discuss and challenge progress against targets set. The actions considered to be the highest priority were now highlighted. Some target dates had been revised and the Committee would review progress regularly going forward.
The Safeguarding Link Governor had undertaken a review of the college’s Single Central Record on 06 July 2022 and was pleased to report that she had received full assurance.
Special Search & Governance Committee – 06 July 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 10g)
(Draft Minutes circulated at the meeting)
31/22. Board Vacancies and Succession Planning (Confidential Appendices – Agenda Item 3)
The Committee had interviewed formally the shortlisted candidates, based on an assessment of a submitted CV and application form/skills audit for each candidate.
Having considered the skills and experience of each candidate, the future skills requirements of the Board and to maintain quality governance, the Board
Resolved: That -
- N. Stitch be appointed as an Independent Governor with effect from 12 July 2022 for a Term of four years and be appointed to the Finance & Business Operations Committee.
- A. Caesar-Homden be appointed as an Independent Governor with effect from 12 July 2022 for a Term of four years and be appointed to the Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee.
- R. Harrison be appointed as an Independent Governor with effect from 12 July 2022 for a Term of four years and be appointed to the Audit Committee
32/22. Risk (Agenda Item 11)
The Board reviewed those risks specific to the Board. The EDF reported that, to prepare for 2022/23, the Strategic Risk Register would be reviewed.
The VP, CS&BD provided a verbal update on the outcome of the invacuation event on that had recently taken place at the College. In response to questions, the GVP confirmed that there had been a review of the college’s invacuation procedure following the incident.
The Safeguarding Link Governor commented that, from an external perspective, the incident had been well managed by the college.
33/22. Draft Calendar of Board and Committee Meetings 2022 – 2023 (Appendix - Agenda item 13)
The Board reviewed the Draft Calendar of Board and Committee Meetings 2022 – 2023(previously circulated). Governance meetings had been scheduled to complement the College’s financial management and teaching and learning reporting cycles, to ensure governors received timely, accurate data.
Resolved: That the Calendar of Board and Committee Meetings 2022 – 2023, be approved.
ACTION: Calendar dates to be circulated and published.
34/22. Careers Statement of Intent (Appendix – Agenda Item 13)
The Board received the College Careers Statement of Intent (previously circulated). Having reviewed its contents, the Board –
Resolved: That the College Careers Statement of Intent, be approved.
35/22. Date of Next Meeting – Scheduled Meeting – Monday, 10 October 2022 from 5.30 p.m. Venue – English Bridge Campus.
PART II – CONFIDENTIAL SESSION
It was agreed that Minute Number 36/22, 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.
36/22. Verbal Report of Chair
The Board received a verbal report of the Board Chair.
The meeting concluded at 7.31 p.m.