Shrewsbury Colleges Group
Group Minutes of the Board
Date 12th July 21
Time 5.32 p.m.
Minutes Membership In attendance by electronic device and contributing towards the meeting quorum, in accordance with Instrument 12. (Members may count towards the quorum if they are able to be present by electronic or digital communication (including attendance by video conferencing or telephone conferencing).
A Allen, A. Benghiat, B. Greenaway, H. Hawksworth, N. Merchant, G. Mills, K. Quant, J. Rowe, R. Sartain, J. Sharrock, J. Staniforth (Principal/Chief Executive), 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. Pemberton, Group Vice-Principal, Quality and Curriculum Development (GVP – Q&CS).
C. Sears – Director of A Level Studies (DoALS)

Clerk to the Board – T. Cottee
Apologies J, Barratt (Audit Committee co-opted member), R. Lopez, M. Thompson, C. Wassall and J. Wildman.

The Chair referred to the Remote Meeting Procedure and Protocol (previously circulated) and reminded those present that, although the meeting was held remotely, the Corporation’s Instrument & Articles and Standing Orders still applied.


15/21. Declarations of Interest

    1. A. Allen declared a Standing Interest as an employee of Harper Adams University.
    2. G. Mills declared an interest in the matter resolved at Board Min. No. 19/21. He took no part in the item.
    3. R. Sartain declared an interest as the Board’s representative on the Radbrook Foundation Board.
    4. It was noted that H. Hawksworth had declared on her Register of Interest that she had a child at the College and had understood when it was appropriate to declare this interest

16/21. Minutes of Meeting Held 29 March 2021 (Appendix – Agenda item 3)

Resolved: That the Minutes of the meeting held on 29 March 2021, be approved as a true record.

17/21. Matters Arising


18/21. Chair’s Announcements

The Chair advised that the Terms of N. Merchant, the Audit Committee Chair, C. Wassall, the H.E. Student Governor and J. Wildman, the 16 – 19 Student Governor would conclude on 31 July 2021. Gifts of appreciation and, for the student governors, certificates of achievement, would be delivered to each governor on behalf of the Board. The Board Chair and other governors expressed their thanks to each governor for their support and commitment to the College, its staff and students. The Chair of the Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee additionally thanked the H.E. Student Governor for her considered and positive contributions to the Committee and Board.

The Clerk to the Board would be working with the College’s Marketing Team on recruitment campaigns for the upcoming parent governor and staff governor (Support Staff) vacancies.

In addition, the Board Chair mentioned that invitations for a social event to be held on 23 September 2021 and to which all current and former governors who had left the Board since March 2020 would be invited, would be issued by the Clerk over the summer.

ACTION: Clerk to issue invitations

Chair’s Actions

In accordance with Standing Order No. 19, the Chair reported the following Chair’s Actions taken since the last Board meeting –

      1. Approval of involvement in the Marches Strategic Development Fund bid application as a partner;
      2. Amendment to the approved Student Union Constitution; and
      3. Approval of a Post 16 Capacity Bid application for estate enhancements to meet a growth in student demand.

In response to a question regarding the Actions taken with respect to the approval of the two bid applications, the P/CEO explained that the Education & Skills Funding Authority (ESFA) application documents required evidence of Board approval of the bid submissions and that the Actions were required due to the bids’ application deadlines.

Further Education Commissioner (FEC) Team Monitoring Visit

The Board Chair had received, for fact-checking, the Draft Report on the outcome of the FEC Team’s recent Monitoring Visit to the College. As reported to all governors by the Chair in an email after the visit, the Draft Report had confirmed that -

      • All recommendations had been completed by the deadlines set and evidenced to the Team’s satisfaction;
      • Whilst the Draft Report contained no further formal recommendations, it did include two suggestions, one in relation to the Board’s approach to risk and one in relation to a statement on Education Recovery, both of which would be addressed; and
      • No further visits by the Team would be required.

The Final Report would be published in due course.

19/21. Election of Vice-Chair

Following the resignation from the Board of the former Vice Chair, in accordance with Instrument 5 (8), the Board considered the appointment of a successor.

The Clerk to the Board reported that, having sought nominations from eligible members, one valid nomination had been received.

Having been proposed by A Allen and seconded by R. Sartain, it was

Resolved: That G. Mills be appointed Vice Chair of the Board with effect from 13 July 2021 for a period of two years and, in that capacity, be appointed to the Post Inspection Action Plan Steering Committee.

Action: Clerk to support GM in Induction into role

20/21. Principal/CEO’s Report (Confidential Appendix – Agenda item 7)

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

      • Covid Management. The College continued to review the Government’s guidance as it was updated and ensured that risk assessments were also revised and updated as appropriate. The College had run face to face pre-enrolment events for year 11 students and an Activities Week for current students. The College had recently been one of the winners of the Sixth Form Colleges Association Award ‘COVID and Beyond’. The Board agreed that this was a worthy acknowledgment of the College’s work to give students the best possible experience this year.
      • Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs). To date, the College had been asked for a very small sample of evidence to support its grading and was finalising the Appeals Policy which would allow students to challenge their grades after publication. The FD was currently pursuing through the Association of Colleges and directly with the local MP, a reduction in awarding bodies’ fees.
      • Attendance and Retention. Attendance had remained high through the final term at 91.0% at the end of June for all students on all courses; the highest overall level of attendance for the College. Students had responded positively to face to face education, as well as the effectiveness of the College’s remote lessons between January and March 2021. 16-18 student retention at the end of June was 94.5%, slightly below the target of 95.0%.
      • Student Activities. The Board acknowledged that students had had a different experience this year. It was noted and that many had made significant progress academically and in terms of their technical skills, because of their high levels of attendance and the College’s continuity of provision. It was also noted that they had not enjoyed the normal social side of their further education. The P/CEO explained how the College had incrementally reintroduced sport, Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, music and drama as Government guidance had allowed, as well as providing three activities afternoons, giving students the opportunity to take part in a range of events, with over 500 students attending.
      • Applications for September 2021. The College had received considerably more applications (around 550) from Year 11 students for September 2021, than at the equivalent points in 2019-20; this growth was in advance of the demographic upturn that formed the basis of the new strategic plan. Additionally, there had been a growth in students who would roll-over from year 1 to year 2 of an A Level or BTEC study programme.
      • Preparations for September 2021. As a consequence of the anticipated growth in student numbers, the College had recruited additional staff, including 17 new teachers, two Safeguarding Mentors, a Careers and Progression Adviser, a Lead Curriculum Tutor to manage the Curriculum Support Tutor team at English and Welsh bridges and a lead Work Experience Co-ordinator. These additional support roles were partly to provide additional capacity and partly to allow the College to improve key areas identified by OFSTED as needing to improve it was to move judgements from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’ in careers and work experience. Preparations also included commissioning additional teaching spaces. The FD explained that the College would extend the brick workshop at London Road Campus, install new engineering equipment in the old Motor Vehicle workshop and commission rooms in the basement at English Bridge Campus. The Radbrook Foundation, on receiving a business case, had reviewed how it could support the anticipated growth in student numbers and would invest up to £145k to fund the extension to the brick workshop. The College would also take delivery of 2 minibuses in September 2021.
      • Industrial Dispute. The College remained in dispute with the local branch of the National Education Union. The focus continued to be on mitigating the impact of any action taken.
      • Further Education Commissioner and OFSTED. The P/CEO explained that the FEC Team’s Draft Report commented that the College produce a Statement on Recovery and lost learning and how the College was addressing this through the Tuition Fund. The College was keen to focus on supporting positive growth for students, their progress and a positive mindset and would continue to assess how the College could support and develop students separately from any funding received from the Government. The Board supported this approach. The College had commenced preparations for a full OFSTED inspection anticipated to take place in the autumn. OFSTED had revised its further education and skills inspection handbook with effect from 1 September 2021 and the P/CEO explained that the key changes to come into effect from 1 September 2021, related to safeguarding and sexual harassment and violence and online sexual abuse. The safeguarding section under ‘Leadership and Management’ had been updated to take into account the findings and recommendations of OFSTED's review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges in the context of further education and skills provision. This included a new section entitled: ‘Sexual harassment and violence and online sexual abuse between learners who are children or young people’ which explained what inspectors would evaluate in the light of the findings and recommendations of the review report. It included the expectation that inspectors would meet with groups of students, in particular single-sex groups, as part of the inspection of safeguarding and confirmed they would ask for and look at cases of sexual abuse/ harassment incidents. OFSTED’s position was that sexual harassment and violence and online sexual abuse was a societal problem, which meant it would be present in all providers. There was an expectation that all staff had received training, all students would have been educated, and that safeguarding records would highlight cases. In response to a question on the College’s preparations and timescales, the P/CEO explained that the College was working on an implementation plan, in discussion with the Safeguarding Link Governor. The Safeguarding Link Governor confirmed that staff should be made aware of these issues and the definition of intent. The College was planning a webinar for 03 September 2021, which would introduce the updated Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSiE) Guidance and require staff to undertake an Online Module. The Clerk confirmed that this roll out would include governors.
      • National Art Exhibitions in which the College was participating.
      • How College staff were promoting the College at National level.
      • College events, celebrations and student and alumni achievements. The E&D Link Governor referred to the recent STAR Awards, which celebrated the achievements of students who had faced considerable personal challenges at the same time as making significant contributions to the College and achieving great progress on their courses and expressed his thanks to the students, the Equality and Diversity Committee, the Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club for sponsoring the awards, the estates and health and safety team for ensuring the event could take place in a safe and secure way, to staff and governors who attended to support the award winners, to the team at Origins for catering the event, and to all the work undertaken behind the scenes to ensure the success of the event.
      • In response to a question on how the College would benefit from becoming a Stonewall College Champion, the P/CEO explained that the D-CS had consulted the Association of Colleges (AoC) after concerns about this initiative had been raised to the College due to Stonewall’s approach regarding protected characteristics and single sex spaces. The AoC had provided assurance that, as the College was working to keep its relevant policies under review in consultation with the local authority, the College did not need to reconsider this relationship.

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

21/21. Strategic Plan Update

Further to Board Min. No. 06/21, the P/CEO explained that the new Strategy had been shared with staff and the estates strategy would be completed in September 2021. An operational plan had been developed to support achievement of the Plan’s objectives. In response to questions on how the Board would effectively monitor and evaluate progress against the Strategic Plan, it was agreed that the Board Chair and P/CEO would discuss how to present the information required going forward.

The Board Chair took the opportunity at this point, to reflect on the year and that, since September 2020the College had made significant progress and achievements, independently verified by both OFSTED and the FEC and had responded with creativity and resilience to the challenges of the pandemic. In addition, the College had developed a new Strategy, improved further its safeguarding arrangements, delivered TAGs and kept students’ progress, safety and wellbeing at the heart of its operations. He extended his thanks to the P/CEO and Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and the staff for their continued hard work. The P/CEO added his thanks to the SLT and staff.

22/21. GDPR Annual Report 2020 – 2021 (Appendix - Agenda item 9a)

The Board reviewed the GDPR Annual Report for 2020 – 2021 (previously circulated).

The GVP – I&SD reported, in his capacity as Data Protection Officer, that there had been a significant increase in the number of data breaches during the year. The Board sought assurance that the Data Breaches reported had been addressed and procedures improved. Although the data breaches had not been significant and mostly due to human error, as a result, the SLT had agreed a more structured approach to refresh staff and governor training through the National College training programme.

In response to a question citing the increase in phishing activity since lockdown, the GVP explained that, to date, the College had not been subject to ransom-ware attacks and had effective mitigations to limit the impact of malicious malware. The College had received the Cyber Essentials Accreditation on 18 September 2020, implemented Enhanced login Validation, including Login Location Tracking and Login Plausibility Tracking and had also implemented Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for staff and governors.

Resolved: That the GDPR Annual Report 2020 – 2021, be approved.

23/21. Draft Calendar of Board and Committee Meetings 2021 – 2022 (Appendix - Agenda item 9b)

The Board reviewed the Draft Calendar of Board and Committee Meetings 2021 – 2022 (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. In addition -

      • It was proposed to bring the start time of the Audit Committee in line with other committee meetings and start at 5.30 p.m.
      • The dates proposed for the Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee were based around input from the College’s Progress Grade/Assessment Calendar. Following a review by SLT, the 2021 – 2022 Progress Grade Cycle had been set for 3 Progress Grades in the year. The proposed committee dates for 2021/22, had been set around this revised cycle. A fourth committee meeting had been included for an ‘end of academic year review’ report.

The DoALs sought assurance that the dates of the Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee would complement the revised Progress Grades cycle. The Clerk to the Board agreed to check and confirm before circulating the Calendar.

Resolved: That the Calendar of Board and Committee Meetings 2020 – 2021, be approved, subject to confirmation of the dates of the Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee.

ACTION: Calendar dates to be circulated and published.

24/21. Review of Governance Arrangements Made March 2020 (Appendix – Agenda Item 9c)

At its Special Meeting on 17 March 2020 (Board Min. No. 09/20 refers), the Board had made a number of changes to its governance practices due to the escalating concern over the spread of Covid-19, to protect the health of governors and officers, and to ensure the continuance of effective and robust governance, from that point. These changes had included –

      • holding all meetings of the Board and its committees on-line through Microsoft Teams or Zoom;
      • extending the terms of those governors whose terms were due to end in 2020, to maintain cohesion and stability of the Board membership; and
      • making certain amendments to the Board’s Instruments and Standing Orders.

These arrangements had been further reviewed in July 2020 (Board Min. No. 49/20 refers) and it had been agreed to retain them going into the 2020/21 Academic Year, as the Covid pandemic continued. The Board and committees had continued to meet remotely to date. Despite not meeting ‘in person; since March 2020, governor engagement and attendance had remained very high throughout the year (currently 95% - well above the KPI of 80% and on par with last year’s 95%).

The Government had announced arrangements to release the Country from current Covid restrictions from 19 July 2021. The Clerk had undertaken research across the sector to understand how governance was being undertaken from September 2021, concluding that arrangements depended mostly on local circumstances. The Clerk would discuss the most appropriate and safe governance arrangements for the 2021 – 2022 year, with the Board Chair and Principal/CEO. The Board Chair expressed the view that, from September 2021, Board meetings could be held face-to-face and that committee chairs could make decisions regarding meeting arrangements, based on the views of committee members. He therefore asked governors to indicate their preference in the annual committee assessment that had been circulated.

25/21. Summary of Minutes and Recommendations from Committees (Appendices – Agenda Items 10 a – f)

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 – 30 March 2021 (Appendix – Agenda Item 10a) (Minutes previously circulated)

Search & Governance Committee – 19 May 2021 (Appendix – Agenda Item 10b) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

26/21. H.E. Student Governor

The Clerk reported that, following a Notice of Vacancy, one Nomination for the H.E. Student Governor vacancy from 31 July 2021, had been received. However, on receiving further information from the DoALs, confirmation of the appointment was deferred, to enable the Clerk to undertake additional due diligence.

ACTION: Clerk to undertake additional due diligence

Finance & Business Operations Committee – 25 May 2021 (Appendix – Agenda Item 10c) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

All governors had received the relevant College Management Accounts. The Committee Chair gave a verbal update and presented the following recommendations.

27/21. Fees Policy 2021 – 2022 (Confidential Appendix – Agenda Item 10ci)

The Board reviewed a report (previously circulated) setting out the proposed College Fees Policy for 2021 - 2022.

Resolved: That the Fees Policy 2021 – 2022, be approved.

28/21. Draft Subcontractor Management, Retained Funding Policy (Appendix – Agenda Item 10cii)

The Board reviewed a report (previously circulated) setting out a request to approve the Draft Subcontractor Policy for 2020 – 2021. The Policy had been further revised in response to Guidance from the Education & Skills Funding Agency.

Resolved: That the Subcontractor Management, Retained Funding Policy, as further amended, be approved.

Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee – 14 June 2021 (Appendix – Agenda Item 10d) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

The Committee had –

      • reviewed a report on the College’s careers education, information, advice and guidance arrangements for students and had sought assurance on the effectiveness and quality of these arrangements through achievement of the Matrix Accreditation and progress against the Gatsby Standards. Whilst the College had a strong career programme, on self-assessment against the Gatsby Standards, the College could be more effective at communicating its offer. Following the self-assessment, this was being reviewed and would be in place by September 2021; the review would also ensure that the strategy aligned with the new College Strategic Development Plan. The Committee Chair had requested that the Committee receive regular reports on the College’s arrangements with respect to careers guidance and advice going forward.
      • reviewed the External Examiners and Verifiers Reports for HE and the HE Quality Improvement Plan. In response to a question from the E&D Link Governor on the College’s strategy to increase the proportion of LAYP accessing higher education, the D CS had explained that the College was, in association with partners, developing an approach to raise the aspirations of the College’s LAYP generally, including highlighting Higher Education and how the College could support LAYP looking to transition into Higher Education, including developing a webpage. The College was also looking to strengthen support for students with EHCPs.
      • reviewed the College’s Student Voice report. The Committee had heard a report on the students’ perception of Black Lives Matter. The GVP – Q&CD had explained that the College’s Cultural Society had put together a series of theme-based discussions, including micro aggressions and allyship, to spark debate and discussion amongst students. The Society had also asked the College to deliver a tutorial on the equalities acts and protected characteristics; this was delivered after Easter 2021.

Audit Committee – 16 June 2021 (Appendix – Agenda Item 10e) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

The Committee Chair gave a verbal update –

      • Prior to the meeting of the Audit Committee, the GVP, I&SD had given a presentation to the Committee members and other invited governors on the College’s arrangements for Teacher Assessed Grades.
      • The College had received a full funding audit, undertaken by PWC, on behalf of the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and had produced an assurance report for the College. The Committee had received a detailed briefing on the Audit’s findings and that, overall, the audit reflected a very good performance for a College of its size, with £31k being clawed-back.

The Committee Chair presented the following recommendations.

29/21. Internal Audit Strategy and Annual Internal Audit Plan 2021 – 2022 (Appendix – Agenda item 10ei)

The Committee had considered the report (previously circulated), which set out the proposed Audit Plan for 2021/22; this had been informed by a risk assessment carried out across education clients and by an updated audit risk assessment to ensure that planned coverage for the year was focussed on the key audit risks, and that the coverage would enable a robust annual Head of Internal Audit Opinion to be provided.

The Committee had acknowledged that this year would continue to be another challenging one for FE colleges in terms of funding pressures, viability and the on-going impact of COVID-19. The IAS had identified a number of key areas which required consideration when planning internal audit coverage, including Cyber Security and Information Governance, the FE White Paper published in January 2021, Covid-19 and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on a College’s ability to deliver its business and Mental Wellbeing

Resolved: that the Internal Audit Strategy and Annual Internal Audit Plan 2021 – 2022 be approved.

30/21. Financial Statement Auditors 2020 – 2021 Audit Plan and Strategy (Appendix – Agenda item 10eii)

The Plan and Strategy (previously circulated) set out –

      • The Financial Statement Auditor’s understanding of the principal business issues relating to the College and the overall impact on the audit approach – financial position and Going Concern;
      • Significant risks identified. These risks included –
        • Significant risks, such as the risk of fraud and the Covid-19 pandemic; and
        • Reasonably possible risks (income and expenditure);
        • new requirements for financial statements auditors to undertake additional work on the Financial Statements, including the testing of underlying records, which would involve the selecting and testing of the College’s ILR records. The significant increase in fees set out in the report reflected the additional workload required as a result of the extra pressure from regulators to undertake more assurance work, as well as the additional auditing work required this year.

Resolved: that the Financial Statement Auditors 2021 – 2022 Audit Plan and Strategy be approved.

31/21. Risk Register 2020 - 2021 (Appendix – Agenda Item 10eiii)

As recommended by the Committee (Audit Committee Min. No. 26/20 refers), the format of the Risk Register had been revised in line with the proposals subsequently approved by Board (Board Min. No. 94/20 refers) to incorporate a new set of definitions and working methodology.

Resolved: That the Risk Register June 2021, be approved.

Finance & Business Operations Committee – 06 July 2021 (Agenda item 10f)

All governors had received the relevant College Management Accounts. The Committee Chair gave a verbal update and explained that the Committee had –

      • reviewed an analysis of changes to core 16-19 funding for 2020-21 compared with 2019-20.
      • received termly reports on the College’s estate management and health and safety. The Committee had particularly sought assurance over the risk assessment and health and safety arrangements for staff and students.
      • The GVP, HR&D had presented a verbal report on the Human Resources Team’s activities for 2020 – 2021. The Committee had noted the following in particular -
        • The Team’s operational plan and objectives would be revised over the summer period to align with the College’s new Strategic Plan;
        • Team staffing arrangements had changed during the year; the Team now comprised 4 full time members of staff and 4 part-time members, based over 2 campuses, with 1 member of staff focussed on safeguarding.
        • The College’s workforce had increased during 2020 – 21, with significant further recruitment for 2021-22 for replacement and new roles. The recent recruitment project had drawn many applications, with applicants evidently keen to work for the College, citing its positive reputation as a reason.

32/21. Risk (Agenda Item 11)

Further to Minute No. 18/20, the Board reviewed those risks specific to the Board. In response to a question, the FD would review whether there was a need to have separate risks for Board Risk 8 (Students do not feel safe on campus) and Board Risk 9 (Staff do not feel safe on campus).

33/21. Governance Pack

The Board reviewed (previously circulated) the following compliance audits, compiled and presented at the request of the E&D & Safeguarding Lead Governors to provide assurance –

      1. Prevent;
      2. Safeguarding; and
      3. SEND.

The Clerk to the Board reported that the compliance audit format and purpose would going forward, be reviewed in consultation with the E&D and Safeguarding link governors. The Safeguarding Link Governor observed that the Board could continue to receive the level of assurance it expected through a series of audits and general reports, rather than a lengthy annual report. The E&D Link Governor added that he would expect the new approach to extend to receiving assurance on the College's SEND arrangements. The Board agreed that the current reports presented a challenging workload to officers and that it would welcome a review of the link governors’ approach to reporting assurance to the Board.

ACTION: E&D and Safeguarding Link Governors to review approach to assurance reporting with Clerk to the Board.


It was agreed that Minute Numbers 34 & 35/21, be considered as confidential under Instrument 13 (5)(d).

34/21. Summary of Draft Confidential Minutes

Finance & Business Operations Committee – 06 July 2020 (Agenda item 13)

The Committee Chair presented the following recommendation. He explained that the Committee, in reviewing the Draft Budget had focussed on seeking assurance on the operational cash generation, observance of bank covenants and that the Draft Budget met the College’s strategic objective to provide an estate to meet the anticipated increase in the number of students.

35/21. College Financial Forecast and Draft Budget 2021 – 2022 (Confidential Appendix – Agenda Item 13a)

The Board reviewed the Draft Budget 2021 – 22 (previously circulated).

The FD explained the following key points –

      • The Plan for 2021 – 22, that the College submitted as part of its 2020 – 21 Budget and Plan had assumed that the number of 16 – 19 learners would decrease in view of the then recent OFSTED Inspection report and the possible resulting impact on enrolment and staffing requirements. However, the College had seen significant student growth and this had required the College to take on additional staff. The College had recently concluded a major recruitment project to staff the anticipated increase in student numbers expected from September 2021.
      • The draft budget, therefore, reflected the ongoing challenges considering the continuing impact of the current Covid 19 pandemic. It also responded to the significant growth in 16-18 student numbers anticipated over each of the next two years. This growth required a financial strategy of investment in teaching and capital costs.
      • The Budget allowed for capital expenditure of £1,400k in 2021-22. Of this capital funding, grants of £80k had been assumed in respect of installation of solar PV panels at London Road Campus. No additional grant funding had been assumed in respect of the capital costs of new security fencing also at London Road Campus. The FD explained that the security fencing would extend to include the rear boundary of the London Road site.
      • 2022-23 capital expenditure assumed the need for significant campus improvement work. The College had submitted a bid for a Post 16 Capacity grant of £3.6M to redevelop and increase teaching capacity at the English Bridge Campus. If awarded this would result in substantial in-year additional capital expenditure with 85% of this funded by the grant. The College contribution would be funded from cash reserves, supplemented by additional short-term overdraft facilities during February to April.
      • The FD explained that the Budget still reflected the College’s prudent approach to financial management, particularly safeguarding cashflow.

In response to a questions, the FD explained that –

      • The capital expenditure would come from operating cashflow.
      • The Draft Budget did not include the recent Post-16 Capacity Bid submitted. If the College was successful in its bid, it would have to contribute c£500k and apply to vary its bank Covenants, which the FD was confident could be achieved.

In response to a question on whether the SLT had considered the potential impact of large class sizes, the P/CEO explained that, according to data, the mean average class size across the College was 19 at the English and Welsh bridge campuses and 17 – 18 at London Road Campus, figures which would not generally be considered to be large. There were larger class sizes, which were a consequence of the College delivering a wide ranging curriculum. The SLT had examined room utilisation and planned carefully to mitigate the risk of adverse student and staff experience.

Resolved: That the Group Financial Forecast and Draft Budget 2021 - 2022, be approved, including Financial Plan objectives.

36/21.Date of Next Meeting – Monday, 11 October 2021 from 5.30 p.m. Venue – tbc.

The meeting concluded at 7.36 p.m.