PART I – OPEN ITEMS
37/21. Declarations of Interest
- A. Allen declared a Standing Interest as an employee of Harper Adams University.
- J. Barratt declared an interest in the matter resolved at Board Min. No. 42/21. He took no part in the item.
- P. Tucker declared an interest in the matter resolved at Board Min. No. 42/21. She took no part in the item.
38/21. Minutes of Meeting Held 14 July 2021 (Appendix – Agenda item 3)
Resolved: That the Minutes of the meeting held on 12 July 2021, be approved as a true record.
39/21. Matters Arising
40/21. Chair’s Announcements
The Chair –
- Welcomed those present to the first Board meeting of the Academic Year.
- Welcomed E. Rees, the Student Governor (16 – 19) to her first Board meeting. She was currently undertaking her Induction and had already attended the first Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee of the year as a co-opted Committee member.
- Advised that the first Learning Walk of the year would take place in Health & Social Care (vocational provision) on 19 October 2021, from 1.00 p.m. The next Learning Walk would take place in History, Politics, Classics and Religious Studies (Academic provision) on Thursday, 02 December 2021.
- Governors had been invited to attend the Student Union Executive Committee meetings on 19, 20 & 21 October 2021.
- Governors were again this year, able to access the Sixth Form Colleges’ Association (SFCA) Governance Webinar series. In addition, governors would also have access to the Association of College’s Governor Development Programme, details of which would be circulated.
The Chair advised that the Term of R. Lopez, the Parent Governor (London Road Campus) would conclude on 31 October 2021. A gift of appreciation would be delivered to him on behalf of the Board. The Board expressed its thanks for his support and commitment to the College, its staff and students.
The Chair invited the Safeguarding Link Governor to provide a verbal report on her recent Learning Walk undertaken at English Bridge Campus. This Walk was the first in a series she would undertake across the College’s sites.
The Safeguarding Link Governor reported that the Walk had been conducted most satisfactorily and that she was assured that awareness of and adherence to the College’s safeguarding protocols were embedded within the site. She had been appropriately challenged on entry to the Campus (wearing her ID Badge) and the students she had met were well aware of the safeguarding arrangements the College had in place and who to go to if they felt in need of support.
41/21. Change to Agenda Order
The Chair advised that the Search & Governance Committee meeting had been postponed to 12 October 2021. Therefore, the following item was presented direct to Board, to complete the appointment process for crucial appointments to the Board.
42/21. Appointments to Board (Agenda Item 10 c i)
H.E. Student Governor
Following a Notice of Vacancy, one Valid Nomination for the Higher Education (H.E.) Student Governor vacancy had been received from Angela Creighton (a second year PGCE student) and no election was held.
Resolved that: Angela Creighton be appointed as Higher Education (H.E.) Student Governor for a One Year Term, with effect from 12 October 2021 and be appointed to the Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee as a co-opted committee member.
Staff Governor (Support Staff Cohort)
Following a Notice of Vacancy, one Valid Nomination for the Support Staff Governor vacancy had been received from Paula Tucker and no election was held.
Resolved that: Paula Tucker be appointed as Support Staff Governor for a Four-Year Term, with effect from 12 October 2021 and be appointed to the Finance & Business Operations Committee and Post Inspection Action Plan Steering Committee.
Following a Notice of Vacancy, one Valid Nomination for the Parent Governor vacancy had been received from Dr Julian Barratt and no election was held.
Resolved that: Dr Julian Barratt be appointed as Parent Governor for a Three-Year Term, with effect from 12 October 2021 and be appointed to the Audit Committee and the Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee.
Action: Clerk to support newly appointed governors in Induction into roles
43/21. Governor Development Briefing – Safeguarding (Agenda item 6)
It had been agreed at the recent meeting of the Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee (Q, S&C Min. No. 54/21 refers), that a Governor Development Briefing be presented to the Board on the college’s safeguarding arrangements for the new Academic Year, including the college’s safeguarding records management system. The college’s safeguarding arrangements were always developing, as the college was always responding to its students.
The GVP - CS&BD, the College’s Designated Safeguarding Lead, explained –
- The College’s Safeguarding Team had members based on each of the three sites, with the staff resource allocated to take account of the numbers of student and the assessment of need.
- That safeguarding services were available to students during the day, evening, weekends and holiday periods. In addition, there were 2 Safeguarding Practitioners and 1 Safeguarding Mentor on the English and Welsh Bridge campuses;
- The college’s safeguarding communications strategy was wide-ranging, with the most recent addition being a ‘QR Code’ sticker on the back of student I.D. cards to signpost safeguarding support and resources;
- How the college provided Emotional Health & Wellbeing support to students and how information was shared as appropriate with the safeguarding team;
- How the college managed safeguarding referrals, including working closely with partner schools to identify and plan support for prospective students;
- The internal oversight of safeguarding;
- The college’s external links and oversight of safeguarding; and
- A demonstration of the college’s in-house safeguarding recording system, which was linked to the College’s other student record management systems. The system enabled the college to map and record themes around safeguarding issues. Sexual harassment and bullying cases were now discretely recorded as of September 2021. The college had logged 1,121 referrals during 2020 – 2021, with the majority of referrals being linked to emotional health and anxiety. This knowledge had helped inform the college’s safeguarding resources from 2021 – 2022.
In response to a question, the GVP explained that the college had an extensive safeguarding tutorial programme, covering a wide range of issues; the most recent addition was sexual harassment and bullying. The GVP explained that any student upset or affected by the tutorial topics was identified and supported.
The Board discussed how it ensured oversight of the college’s safeguarding arrangements, including –
- Safeguarding Annual Report;
- Governor Development briefings;
- Compliance reports;
- Safeguarding Link Governor audit activities and reports; and
- Learning walk and student interaction activities.
44/21.Principal/CEO’s Presentation - Review of 2020-21/Planning and Goals 2021-22 (Confidential Presentation – Agenda item 7)
The Board had taken the opportunity to view, in advance of the meeting, a recording of the Principal/CEO’s ‘livestream’ to staff on his review of 2020 – 2021 and goals for 2021 – 2022.
The P/CEO provided a brief precis of the livestream, including –
- For 2021 – 2022 enrolments, the college had seen its highest-ever 16-18 enrolment and a significant increase in apprenticeships. 16-18 enrolments were lower than anticipated based on modelling. This was because of students taking up apprenticeships rather than full-time courses and because of lower numbers of applications in August and September compared to prior years, which were likely to be the consequence of Teacher Assessed grades (TAGs).
- With respect to enrolment to Higher Education, enrolments were very similar to September 2020 and in line with planned numbers. Enrolments had not yet recovered to pre-Covid levels, possibly because, after an extensive period of lockdown, higher education students wished to study away from their home base.
- Attendance this Term remained in line with the KPI, although lower than the same period in 2020 – 2021, due to the re-emergence of suppressed illnesses, such as flu and an increase in students self-isolating. However, due to the college’s pro-active and cautious approach, including the retention of mask-wearing in corridors and social distancing and handwashing protocols, the incidents of positive Covid-19 cases amongst students were still low.
In response to a question, the P/CEO and FD explained that the final stage of construction of the Brick Workshop at the London Road Campus was due to commence 25 October 2021; construction being delayed by difficulties in obtaining building materials. The Apprenticeship Link Governor sought assurance that the current students’ experience was not being detrimentally affected by studying in a temporary facility. The GVP – Q&CS assured that, to date, student experience had been retained, although it was hoped that students could use the new facility before a change in the weather, as autumn drew nearer.
In response to a question on the factors behind the growth in apprenticeship enrolments, the P/CEO explained that, during 2020 – 2021, apprenticeship opportunities had been seriously affected by the Covid-19 pandemic; this situation was improving as the Country opened up again. In addition, due to the high level of satisfaction expressed by the employers the college worked with, the college’s reputation as a provider of high-quality had grown. In addition, the college had developed new areas of work, particularly Trades Union apprenticeships, for example.
In response to a question on teaching staff development, the GVP – HRD explained that, at the college’s recent best practice Sharing Fair, teachers had been given the opportunity to engage with up to 13 different best practice projects, based on strategies and approaches in The Experimental Teachers’ Toolkit. The next development day would take place on 23 November 2021. The P/CEO explained that teachers had been asked to look at schemes of work to ensure students were supported to help them study and revise, the two main areas of skills development where students had had less practice in the previous 18 months.
In response to a question on the management of internal communications going forward, the P/CEO explained that staff feedback had indicated a preference for streamed communications, such as the P/CEO’s weekly briefing, as they could be accessed at any time. The staff governors confirmed this. The Senior Leadership Team (SLT) was reviewing the format of staff communications going forward and the topic would be discussed at the next Staff Forum meeting.
In response to a question on how the SLT intended to build cohesion amongst staff going forward, when there was a preference for Teams and livestreaming, the GVP - HRD explained that the college was developing a number of cross-campus activities, designed to further foster a sense of cohesion amongst satff. The P/CEO explained that top-level central communications had improved, and middle managers worked to transmit the college’s values and ethos to their teams. The GVP – HRD explained that the college’s approach was having a positive impact as top-level results from the most recent staff survey indicated increased levels of satisfaction across the board, including with regard to communications.
Resolved: That the report of the Principal/CEO be noted.
45/21. Strategic Plan Update (Agenda Item 8)
Further to Board Min. No. 21/21, the P/CEO explained that the new Strategy had been shared with staff and the draft estates strategy would be completed by December 2021. An operational plan had been developed to support achievement of the Plan’s objectives.
46/21. OFSTED (Agenda Item 9)
The P/CEO explained that it was highly likely that the college would receive its anticipated Full Inspection soon. Preparations were in earnest and it was likely that key lines of enquiry would include the college’s safeguarding arrangements and the intent, implementation and impact of the curriculum. The College’s Self-Assessment report (SAR) and Covid Position Paper had been drafted and the college was in a good position to welcome the Inspection Team when it arrived. The Clerk confirmed that the Governor Team had been selected and a Preparation Pack had been prepared for circulation to them.
47/21. Summary of Minutes and Recommendations from Committees (Appendices – Agenda Items 10 a – b)
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 – 27 September 2021 (Appendix – Agenda Item 10a) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)
The Committee Chair reported that the Committee had -
- Received a briefing (to which all governors had been invited) from the D, CS and Agency Manager on the college’s arrangements for careers education, information, advice and guidance (including a demonstration of GroFar, an industry and work experience platform used by the college).
- Reviewed progress against the college’s arrangements with respect to careers guidance and advice and progress against the Gatsby Benchmarks. The college currently fully met five out of the eight Benchmarks and the Committee had reviewed the college’s plan to complete the remaining three. The Committee was particularly interested in how the college supported disadvantaged and Looked After Young People’s access to work placements and expected to receive progress updates in future reports.
- Received end of year reports for Higher Education provision, student voice, apprenticeships and the College’s TAG outcomes. The Committee had questioned how the college was preparing students for the current uncertainty over examination arrangements for 2022 and the DoALS had explained that teaching teams were reviewing schemes of work and assessment plans to ensure that any gaps were addressed and that revision skills were actively taught during the year, on the assumption that this cohort would have normal exams in summer 2022.
- Pressed the college on Apprenticeship End Point Assessment arrangements and had sought assurance that students were being supported if they initially failed, due to the disruption caused by the Covid 19 pandemic.
Finance & Business Operations Committee – 04 October 2021 (Appendix – Agenda Item 10b) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)
The Board Chair reported that the Committee had received a presentation on progress of the development of the college’s Estates Strategy. A plan for the next stage of work on the strategy would be agreed between the FD and the consultant team, to include reporting to the Governor/Officer Estates Working Group.
48/21. FE Commissioner Final Report
The FEC Final Report had confirmed that all eight of the Report’s recommendations had been completed. The Final Report had contained two further comments for the college’s consideration, including a recommendation that the college provide a statement on its treatment of tuition funding received. The Audit Committee would also be reviewing the college’s approach to risk appetite at its meeting in November, which would be received by Board in December 2021.
49/21. Sixth Form Colleges Association 2021 – Key Facts & Figures (Appendix – Agenda Item 12a)
The Board received the latest SFCA publication (previously circulated).
50/21. Letter from ESFA Interim Chief Executive to Accounting Officers (Appendix – Agenda Item 12b)
As requested, the latest letter had been circulated at all governors (previously circulated).
51/21. Risk (Agenda Item 13)
Further to Minute No. 18/20, the Board reviewed those risks specific to the Board. The Draft 2021 – 2022 Risk Register would be presented to Board at its next meeting.
52/21. Governance Pack
The Board reviewed (previously circulated) the following –
- Board KPI 2020 – 2021 performance including Attendance Record of Governors 2020 – 2021; and
- Draft Register of Confidential Items considered by Board 2020 – 2021.
PART II – CONFIDENTIAL SESSION
It was agreed that Minute Number 53/21, 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.
53/21. Summary of Draft Confidential Minutes
Confidential Minutes of Special Board Meeting Held 21 September 2021 (Agenda item 14 – circulated at meeting)
Resolved: That the Minutes of the Special Board Meeting Held 21 September 2021, be approved as a true record.
54/21.Date of Next Meeting – Monday, 13 December 2021from 5.30 p.m. Venue – TBC.
The meeting concluded at 7.36 p.m.