PART I – OPEN ITEMS
57/22. Declarations of Interest
- The Executive Director of Finance declared an interest in Minute Number 78/22. He left the meeting before consideration of the item.
- The Clerk to the Board declared an interest in Minute Number 78/22. She left the meeting before consideration of the relevant item.
- The Principal/CEO declared an interest in Minute Number 78/22. He left the meeting before consideration of the relevant item.
58/22. Minutes of Board held 10 October 2022 and Special Meeting held 23 November 2022 (Appendices – Agenda item 3)
Resolved: That the Minutes of the meetings held on 10 October and 23 November 2022, be approved as a true record.
59/22. Matters Arising
60/22. Chair’s Announcements
The Chair –
- Welcomed the nominated Staff Governor, to their first Board meeting.
- Advised that there had been one Learning Walk since the last Board meeting (Vocational Provision) on 10 December 2022. Those governors who had attended praised the organisation of the Walk, the staff and students they had met and welcomed the opportunity to engage with the college. The Board Chair encouraged participation in the next Walk which would be held next Term. It was suggested that a future Walk take place in the evening, to give working governors the opportunity to attend and to see evening provision.
- Governors were encouraged to complete and evidence their mandatory annual development modules to the Clerk by 31 January 2022.
Academic Staff Governor
Following a Notice of Vacancy, Amelia Hodson had been elected to the Academic Staff Governor vacancy.
Resolved that: Amelia Hodson be appointed as the Academic Staff Governor for a Four-Year Term, with effect from 12 December 2022 and be appointed to the Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee.
Action: Clerk to support newly appointed governor in Induction.
Higher Education Student Governor
Following a Notice of Vacancy, the Higher Education Representatives had nominated Daphne Jones (first year HND Sports Leadership student) to the Higher Education Student Governor vacancy.
Resolved that: Daphne Jones be appointed as the Higher Education Student Governor for a Two-Year Term, with effect from 12 December 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.
61/22. Change to Agenda Order
The Chair advised that the items set out at Minute Numbers 62 - 66/22 would be taken out of Agenda order, so a representative of the College’s Financial Statement’s auditors could attend the meeting by Microsoft Teams.
62/22. Summary of Audit Committee Minutes and Recommendations from Committee held 23 November 2022 (Appendices – Agenda Item 8b I - iii)
The Committee Chair gave a verbal update and presented recommendations.
The Committee had reviewed the Internal Audit Service (IAS) Annual Report 2021 – 2022, conducted by the college’s former IAS provider, which summarised the outcomes of the reviews conducted on the college’s framework of governance, risk management and control to assist the Board in making its annual governance statement.
The 2021 - 2022 Plan had been for 36 days of internal audit coverage in the year; the contingency days had not been used. However, one additional review of the Department for Education Funding Bursary had been conducted. During the year, the service had conducted seven reviews; four receiving Substantial Assurance, three attracting Reasonable Assurance; no reviews attracted Limited or No Assurance.
As the report was designed to assist the Governing Body in making its annual governance statement and complete its Annual Report to Board, the Committee had agreed that it had received sufficient assurance on the adequacy of the college’s controls and that this be reflected in the Committee’s Annual Report to Board.
In response to a question, the Committee Chair confirmed that there had been no impact on the delivery of the internal audit work for the year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
63/22. Report from College Internal Audit Service – Internal Audit Plan 2022 – 2023 (Appendix, Agenda item 8 bi)
The Committee Chair presented the draft Internal Audit Service Annual Plan 2022 – 2023 (previously circulated).
The report set out –
- The key findings of the Audit Needs Assessment (ANA), following discussions with key college personnel and the Audit Committee Chair;
- The Service’s approach to the development of the Strategy; and
- The Internal Audit Strategy.
Having reviewed the Draft Strategy, the Board:
Resolved: that the Internal Audit Service Annual Plan 2022 - 2023 be approved.
64/22. Audit Committee Draft Annual Report 2021 – 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 8bii)
The Committee had reviewed a précis of its activities for the Year 1 August 2021 to 31 July 2022 (previously circulated).
The Annual Report to the Board provided -
- a summary of the work of the Committee during 2021 - 2022, including any significant issues arising up to the date of preparation of the Report;
- any significant matters of internal control included in the management letters and reports from auditors or other assurance providers;
- the Committee’s view on its own effectiveness and how it had fulfilled its terms of reference; and
- the Committee’s opinion on the adequacy and effectiveness of the college’s audit arrangements, its framework of governance, risk management and control and its processes for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness.
The Report had been produced in accordance with reporting requirements and included a section on governors’ development. The Committee had as a result of self-assessment, increased its membership to five for the 2022 – 2023 year.
Resolved: That the Audit Committee Annual Report 2021 – 2022, be accepted.
Action: Submit Report to ESFA before 31 December 2022
The Audit Committee Chair signed the Report.
65/22. Risk Register and Board Assurance Framework (BAF) (Appendix – Agenda Item 8biii)
The Board reviewed the 2022 – 2023 Risk Register and Board Assurance Framework (previously circulated).
The EDoF explained the risks identified and mitigating actions being undertaken. The Audit Committee had discussed the threat of rolling power cuts and power outages during the winter months and had also sought assurance on the mitigating actions being taken to minimise the impact on students and staff of the current cost of living crisis.
The Board concluded that the risks have been appropriately identified and the management actions reported were effectively mitigating these risks.
- the Risk Register and Board Assurance Framework (BAF) – November 2022 Update, be approved; and
- the risks identified for the 2022 – 2023 Risk Register and BAF, as amended, be approved.
Mr M. Munro, of Bishop Fleming, attended the meeting by remote access for the following item.
66/22. Approval of Financial Statements and Going Concern Report (Appendices - Agenda item 9)
The Board reviewed the Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 July 2022 (previously circulated), having already been considered by both the Audit Committee (Audit Min No. 30/22 refers) and the Finance & Business Operations Committee (F&BO Min No. 63/22 refers).
Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 July 2022
Mr Munro presented the Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 July 2022 (previously circulated). He thanked the EDoF, Finance Team and the MIS Manager, who had all provided high quality information, resulting in no adjustments being required. The auditors confirmed an unqualified audit opinion in terms of both truth and fairness and regularity. The auditors had inserted some additional wording into the Final version of the Statements to reflect the Office for National Statistics (ONS) recent confirmation of a change in the classification of colleges.
Going Concern Assessment
The EDoF presented a report (previously circulated) providing the Board with assurance regarding the status of the college as a going concern. The draft year end accounts, 2022 - 2023 financial plan and year to date operating outcomes demonstrated continuing good financial health.
The predictable nature of the timing of the Education & Skills Funding (ESFA) funding payments meant that the college could anticipate and plan for when the Cash position was lowest (in March and early April of each year). The college had in place adequate mitigating actions in place to ensure cash fluidity at this time during 2023. It was acknowledged that as a consequence of the recent ONS decision, the college would be unable to borrow commercially without Department for Education (DfE) consent (which was unlikely to be forthcoming).
Resolved: That, having considered the draft Financial Statements, the report of the Executive Director of Finance, the Financial Statements auditor’s report and the reports on going concern:
- the Board considered the Shrewsbury Colleges Group to be a going concern; and
- approved the draft year-end financial statements 31 July 2022 and Management Letter, for signature by the Chair and Principal/CEO.
The Board Chair and Principal/CEO signed the Financial Statements
ACTION: Signed Statements to be submitted to ESFA
Mr Munro left the meeting at this point.
67/22. Principal/CEO’s Report (Confidential Appendix – Agenda item 6)
The Principal/CEO provided a thorough strategic overview (previously circulated) on the following topics in particular –
- The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
- The DfE formula-based allocations for investment in energy efficiency schemes. The college would receive an additional £147k of funding to be spent over the next two years. This would pay for LED lighting at the Welsh Bridge Campus and for the voltage optimisation project, designed to further reduce energy costs, being implemented between the end of term and the start of the new term in January 2023.
- The Office for National Statistics (ONS) had confirmed a change in the classification of colleges, returning them to the public sector. Colleges continued to be self-governing corporations with charitable status and with responsibility for their educational character, their own courses, contracts, and relationships with staff and students. However, the sector would be subject to immediate, in-year controls; approvals would now be required in 16 areas including loans and financial changes had been introduced to provide more consistent cashflow and a portion of capital funding allocated on a formula basis. Without the ability to borrow, the sector had been granted the 'concession' of being able to retain surpluses. The change in classification would also affect the college’s payment profile. The Board discussed the implications for the sector and the college, particularly the inability to borrow commercially and the uncertainty of alternative arrangements. Whilst the decision had been expected, it provided additional unwelcome uncertainty to the sector already facing financial challenges. The Board acknowledged that –
- For most colleges, the most significant changes related to borrowing and, whilst colleges retained their reserves and the ability to make capital spending and funding decisions, the new permissions and processes required for borrowing could limit college freedom of action.
- The “no private sector loan” policy could make it harder for colleges to secure grants from things which required matched funding.
- The change in classification would affect the college’s ambitions for its estates going forward and may require a review of the strategy.
- The DfE had published Progress Performance Data – GCSEs and A Levels with the warning of the uneven impact of the pandemic on progress. In response to a question, the P/CEO explained that nevertheless, the college had reviewed the data as part of its internal quality assurance programme.
- Retention and Attendance – details of the college’s efforts to ensure better retention and attendance of students. The ongoing rail strikes had impacted student attendance during the Term and the VP – S&P and the Radbrook Foundation were looking to offer financial support to ensure students attended college.
- Industrial Action – the college’s arrangements had mitigated the impact of recent industrial action taken by a minority of members of the NEU who represented a small minority of college teachers and staff.
- Open Evenings and Applications for September 2022. The college was expecting improved attendance at these events to translate into applications during December and the New Year. In response to a question, the P/CEO explained that the college continued to re-build its programme of in-school engagement after the disruption caused by the Covid 19 pandemic. The VP – S&P explained this included partnering a member of the Admissions Team with a specific school, to ensure a consistent approach to the relationship. The college had also recruited a Campaign Manager and had invested in software (Hubspot) to target its messages more effectively and track an enquiry to achieve a better conversion rate. However, whilst schools were starting to re-engage with the college, enrolment going forward could be affected by the rising cost of travel. The VP – S&P explained that the college had provided transport to visiting Year 10s and was working with affected prospective students and parents to identify and meet their concerns.
- In response to a question, the VP – ALS explained that this year, the college had welcomed an unprecedented number of late enrolments, possibly because their original choice had not met their expectations, they were attracted by the college’s good reputation or because they wished to join the friendship group that had already chosen this college.
- Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP). The DfE had confirmed that the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce was the Employer Recognised Body for Shropshire, Telford and Herefordshire and had approved its LSIP Delivery Plan. The Principal/CEO had been appointed to the LSIP Board and the Delivery Plan’s main findings would be shared with colleges by end of March 2023, to inform planning. It was agreed that the LSIP and the wider issue of meeting skills needs be considered at the Governor Strategic Development Day on 21 April 2023.
- The college would host guests under the DfE Immersion Programme for Civil Servants 2022/23, 12 – 14 December 2023.
- The college had hosted the most recent meeting of the Tertiary Colleges Group Conference, receiving positive feedback from delegates on the conduct of students, staff and the college generally.
68/22. Strategic Discussion – How Can the College Make the Best Use of Governors’ Skills to Promote the College?
Further to the P/CEO’s Report reference to the Local Skills Improvement Plan, the Board Chair sought governors’ thoughts on how the Board could support and promote the college, as governors had numerous networks, they could advocate the college to and draw interest and support from.
During the discussion, the following suggestions were made –
- Working governors could encourage their employers to engage with the college; the National Careers Week could provide an ideal opportunity. Both the Board Chair and Audit Committee Chair confirmed they had the networks to support this initiative.
- The college’s parent community could also have access to networks and employers. The VP S&P confirmed that the parent community was approached where appropriate.
- The Board could host an event with employers and community representatives to promote the college. The Board agreed that a Task & Finish Group be established to explore the idea. The VPs, Board Chair and Vice Chair all expressed an interest in taking this forward.
69/22. Summary of Minutes and Recommendations from Committees (Appendices – Agenda Items 8a – 8d)
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 – 01 November 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 8a.) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)
The Committee Chair presented the following recommendation -
70/22. Health and Safety Annual Report 2021 – 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 8ai)
The Annual Report on Health and Safety across the college for August 2021 to July 2022 (previously circulated) also included an Assurance Statement based on the Institute of Directors and the Health and Safety Commission ‘Leading Health and Safety at Work’ guidance as assurance on the effective leadership of health and safety.
In response to a question, the Health & Safety Link Governor confirmed that he had reviewed the Report. He further reported that he had recently visited the college’s Health & Safety Officer and had received assurance on the college’s health & safety arrangements.
Resolved: That the Health and Safety Annual Report 2021 – 2022, be approved.
71/21. Health & Safety Policy and Statement (Appendix – Agenda Item 8ai)
The Board was recommended to approve the college’s Health & Safety Policy and Statement, which would be signed by the Chair of Board and the Principal/CEO.
Resolved: That the college’s Health & Safety Policy be approved.
The Board Chair and P/CEO signed the college Health & Safety Policy Statement at the meeting.
72/22. Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee – 05 December 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 8b) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)
In the absence of the Committee Chair, the Board Chair explained there were no recommendations.
Finance & Business Operations Committee – 06 December 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 8d) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)
The Committee Chair reported that the Committee had requested that a short update paper on the progress of Estate Strategy projects and capital bids be presented to Board (previously circulated). The Committee would continue to review progress at every meeting.
The EDoF provided a further verbal update, as follows –
- As part of a Strategic Development Fund Mark 2 the college had secured a grant to expand and develop its Renewable Energy Training Centre. The college would therefore develop a new air source heating training space at the London Road Campus, building on its existing expertise to specialise in Air-source heat pumps and Electric Vehicle charging. This would support the Marches region’s drive towards a net Zero economy. It was anticipated to be completed by 31 March 2023. While this permanent new space was being created, from January 2023, the Lower Ground Floor at English Bridge Campus would be used to start to deliver small group courses for Air-source heat pump training.
- The college’s two Post-16 Capacity bids had been submitted: the Renewable Energy Centre at the London Road Campus and expansion and improvements of the Quarry Building and Learning Resources Centre at the Welsh Bridge Campus. In response to a question, the EDoF confirmed that both projects were now ‘shovel ready’ and planning permission had been secured for the London Road project.
- The college had received details of the Wave 5 T Level courses and bids would close on 05 February 2023. The bids would require an element of match funding and, should the Post-16 Capacity Bids be unsuccessful, funding allocated could be diverted to these bids.
- In response to a question on whether the recent announcement that Staffordshire University was closing its teaching facility at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital at the end of the 2022/23 academic year, could provide an opportunity for the college, the P/CEO explained that the college was already working in partnership with the NHS and the University Centre Shrewsbury (University of Chester).
73/22. Risk (Agenda Item 10)
The Board reviewed those risks specific to the Board.
74/22. Governance Assurance Pack
The Board received the Governance Assurance Pack (previously circulated), including the following -
GDPR Annual Report
The Board noted the low number of incidents and that those that had taken place were of a low risk level and had been managed effectively. It thanked the VP – Q,A & I for providing sound assurance on the management of GDPR issues at the college.
75/22. Date of Next Meeting
Scheduled Meeting – Monday, 28 March 2023 from 5.30 p.m. Venue – tbc.
Strategic Planning Day – Friday, 21 April 2023 from 9.00 a.m. Venue – tbc; and
PART II – CONFIDENTIAL SESSION
It was agreed that Minute Numbers 76, 77 & 78 be considered as confidential items under Instrument 16(2) (c ) and (d) 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 during consideration of Items 77 & 78.
76/22. Safeguarding Annual Report (Confidential Appendix – Agenda Item 12)
The Board considered the Safeguarding Annual Self-Assessment Report (previously circulated) which provided updates on Safeguarding at the College including –
- The legacy of the last two years of lockdowns and disrupted learning, as well as the ongoing narrative around the difficulties faced by young people in terms of mental health and wellbeing, meant that students needed and received more support than ever. There were more safeguarding referrals in and out of college, lower rates of attendance in schools and colleges meaning vulnerable young people often remained hard to reach and a backdrop of residual dangers linked to the pandemic; these all contributed to a new landscape in terms of keeping students safe. The VP - S&P commended the Safeguarding Team who had risen again to the challenges put before them in another extraordinary year. As a result of its approach, the Team had been effective in supporting more students in some key areas and more successful in identifying students in need of support and encouraging them to approach the college for help, receiving strong feedback from students on how safe they felt as a member of the college community.
- The Safeguarding Team offered a comprehensive safeguarding support service for students across all campuses. Each campus had a Safeguarding Office where an in-person service for students to drop in and receive support was provided during core college opening hours. Students and staff were also to report concerns around student safety and wellbeing.
- There had been an increase in transition information received from schools because of further developing relationships and taking a structured approach to ensure that the key information used to support students on arrival in college was transferred.
- Emotional Health & Well Being. The Teams worked together to ensure that appropriate referrals were made and that students accessing EHWB provision were appropriately escalated where safeguarding concerns were identified. The Senior DSL was also the Senior Mental Health Lead and has oversight on both areas.
- Looked After Young People. In 2021-22, the college had slightly more LAYP (including Care Leavers) on roll across the three campuses compared to the previous year. Retention for LAYP had improved on the previous year and the achievement gap had significantly reduced. LAYP students had been supported by the Progression Specialist which had contributed significantly to the improved position.
- The Quality Improvement Action Plan for 2022 – 2023.
In response to questions on the Actions, the AP, CS explained that –
- The college had commissioned Help for Shrewsbury, an out of hours helpline, to provide out of hours support. This replaced the existing college staff rota. The costs to the college for the service and had been met by the Radbrook Foundation. It was requested that an interim impact report be provided to the March Quality Committee meeting, as part of the Termly Safeguarding Report.
- Proactive bag searches had been implemented. The AP, CS explained that this was to make students feel safe and act as a deterrent to students considering bringing illegal items into college.
Resolved: That the Safeguarding Annual Self-Assessment Report 2021 – 2022, be accepted.
Staff and Student Governors and all members of SLT, except for the VP – P, left the meeting at this point.
The Principal/CEO, Executive Director of Finance and Clerk to the Board left the meeting at the appropriate point.
In accordance with Instrument 12, a Board member was appointed to act as Clerk to the Committee during her absence.
77/22. Draft Confidential Minutes and Recommendations – Remuneration Committee – 12 December 2022 (Confidential Verbal Report)
The Chair of the Committee provided a confidential verbal update, details set out in a Confidential Minute.
78/22. Senior Post Holder Remuneration
Resolved: That the recommendation set out in a Confidential Minute, be agreed.
The meeting concluded at 7.32 p.m.