PART I – OPEN ITEMS
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.
67/20. Declarations of Interest
1. A. Allen declared a Standing Interest as an employee of Harper Adams University.
68/20. Minutes of Board Meetings (Agenda item 3 - Appendices 3a – b)
Resolved: That the Minutes of the following meetings held on –
- 06 July 2020; and
- Special Meeting – 09 & 13 July 2020
be approved as a true record.
69/20. Matters Arising
70/20. Chair’s Announcements
The Chair –
- welcomed Joe Wildman, the newly appointed Student Governor (16-19) and Albert Benghiat, Independent Governor, to their first meetings. The Board Chair invited Mr Wildman to share his experience as a student of the College year to date. Mr Wildman reported that, although student experience was different this year, due to the College’s requirements around social distancing, and spending less on campus, the quality of teaching had not diminished. He was asked for his thoughts on the amended three-hour blocked student timetable and reported he personally preferred it, as it allowed for time to process and debate the topics being considered.
- took the opportunity to welcome all Board members at the commencement of the 2020 - 2021 Academic year and to thank the Principal/CEO, Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and all College staff for their efforts in managing the impact of College Assessed Grades (CAG) whilst dealing with preparations to open the College in September and preparing for the FE Commissioner visit.
- Having been elected as Board Chair in July, took the opportunity to pay tribute to the former Board Chair, Gordon Channon, for his unstinting support of the College and the Principal/CEO in the aftermath of the OFSTED Report.
- To advise that the College’s progress in implementing additional Safeguarding measures throughout the College since January 2020, had been recognised by the FE Commissioner on his recent visit. The College was stable with good quality teaching and learning with an excellent capacity to improve.
- Reminded the Board the College’s current Three-Year Strategic Plan was in its final year. To help prepare for the development of a new Three-Year Strategy, a strategic planning remote meeting would be held on Thursday, 22 October 2020, to which all Board members and SLT had been invited.
71/20. Principal/CEO’s Report (Confidential Appendix – Agenda item 6)
The Principal/CEO provided a thorough strategic overview (previously circulated) on the following topics –
- Update on new staff who had joined the College, changes to the College leadership team, those staff who had achieved qualifications and those who had been recognised for 10 and 25 year long-service awards;
- Preparations for the College to fully re-open in September 2020, including key protective measures implemented and implications for teaching and learning and student experience;
- Total number of students across the group for 2019 – 2020, including 16 – 18 academic and vocational, apprenticeships, adult skills & training and higher education;
- Growth in 16-18: 2018-19 to 2019-20;
- Impact of lockdown: 2018-19 to 2019-20, with respect to Apprenticeships and Adult Skills and Training;
- The College’s performance against 2019 – 2020 targets;
- Review of 2019 – 2020 with respect to
- A Level Provision;
- GCSE Provision;
- The impact and implications of Centre Assessed Grades;
- Vocational Diplomas and BTECs;
- Apprenticeships. The Board acknowledged that, whilst the College had enrolled more apprentices, the challenge going forward was to retain them in the current economic climate;
- Higher Education;
- Student Support and the impact of lockdown on vulnerable students. The College entered partial closure from 20 March 2020 but remained open throughout lockdown to vulnerable students. Most had engaged well with remote learning thanks to the teachers and tutors and the risk assessments and adaptations for these students had helped inform planning for the 2020-21 year. The Principal/CEO also acknowledged the support of the Radbrook Foundation in supporting students;
- Teaching and Learning Development;
- Enrichment, student competition and sporting achievements;
- Estates and ICT achievements and programmes at the three campus sites. The Principal/CEO paid tribute to the efforts of the Estates and ICT teams in managing the preparations to fully open the College.
- Issues for 2020 – 2021 -
- Dealing with Covid and the related uncertainty going forward;
- Maintaining 16 – 19 student retention, after an increase in enrolments;
- Sustaining Apprenticeship enrolment;
- Adult enrolment;
- Managing the College’s marginal finances;
- Developing further the College’s Teaching and Learning;
- Managing the requirements of intervention, including delivering the Post Inspection Action Plan and the FE Commissioner report’s recommendations; and
- 2020 – 2021 General Targets and Provision-specific targets.
The Principal/CEO took the opportunity to set out a proposed timetable for the development of a new Three-Year Strategy, starting from the event on 22 October 2020, through to looking at the College’s Vision and Mission and link governors working across the College during the Autumn Term and drawing together for a Strategic Planning Day in January 2021. It was anticipated that a Draft Strategy would be considered in March 2021. He recommended the Board to review the F.E. White Paper and Ney Report Review when they were published.
In response to a question on how the College would manage the impact of higher than predicted student enrolment on predicted A level outcomes and targets, the Principal/CEO explained that the College had created extra classes in some subjects, such as Chemistry and that the College Quality Reviews would continue to monitor this carefully.
In response to a question on student enrichment, the GVP – CS&BD explained that College sports teams, except for Netball, were operating and following regulatory body guidance. Competitive games would commence on 04 November 2020, based on regulatory bodies’ confirmation that it was safe to do so. During the partial lockdown, the College had provided regular student engagement virtually. As it had not been possible during remote enrolment for The Agency to present the College’s full range of enrichment activities, a weekly letter was now circulated to all students, highlighting opportunities. However, the range of charitable fund-raising activities usually undertaken by students could be affected going forward. The College was operating course specific trips only and various courses were engaging in competitions, albeit remotely. Music enrichment at the English and Welsh Bridge campuses (EB/WB) was being reviewed and plans for Christmas Concert were being made.
Resolved: That the report of the Principal/CEO be noted.
72/20. Strategic Plan RAG Rating
This report would be considered at the Strategic Planning Event on 22 October 2020.
73/20. Summary of Minutes and Recommendations from Committees (Appendices – Agenda Items 8 a – b)
Post Inspection Action Plan Steering Committee – 03 September 2020 (Appendix – Agenda Item 8a) (Minutes previously circulated)
It was noted that the Minutes had been submitted to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) as required by additional conditions of funding.
74/20. Post Inspection Action Plan Steering Committee Revised Terms of Reference (Appendix – Agenda Item 8ai) (Minutes previously circulated)
The Board Chair explained it was recommended that the Terms be revised to include the GVP – Q&CS as a standing member.
Resolved: That the revised Terms of Reference be approved.
Finance & Business Operations Committee (Appendices – Agenda items 8b)
The Board Chair reported that the scheduled Committee meeting had been postponed. However, to provide assurance and oversight, all governors had received the relevant College Management Accounts and Estates Report that would have been considered by that meeting.
The FD explained that the management accounts were based on R12 ILR returns to the ESFA with assumptions regarding remaining achievement to be claimed for 2019 - 2020. At the year end, the College had until mid-October 2020, to submit final ILR claims in respect of achievement funding for students who completed their courses prior to 31 July 2020. These achievements were claimed only once final quality assurance activities had been completed and the relevant qualifications confirmed with awarding bodies.
The key variances from the June 2020 forecast primarily reflected lower than anticipated pay and the removal of contingency in the forecast for apprenticeship withdrawal due to COVID. These had resulted in the forecast EBITDA position improving from £1,291k to £1,359k.
The FD explained that, with respect to the Estates Report, the College had identified an opportunity to invest in a solar PV system at the College’s London Road Campus. The Board identified that the London Road Campus had significant potential for installation of a PV system to offset and reduce the College’s carbon impact, thereby improving the sustainability of the College and reducing the College’s electricity costs. The College was also potentially eligible for match funding from the Marches Renewable Energy project (MaRe) up to 50% of the cost of the scheme and interest free borrowing through SALIX Energy loans were available to contribute to the unmatched capital costs of the proposed scheme.
Having considered these factors and on the basis that the College could access the Marches Renewable Energy Grant to fund 50% of the project it supported the College proceeding with the project as it would be both financially beneficial and deliver significant sustainability benefits. At the request of the Vice-Chair, the FD undertook to investigate how educational opportunities for students could be included in the project.
Further to Minute No. 18/20, the Board reviewed those risks specific to the Board.
76/20. Date of Next Meeting - Scheduled Meeting – 14 December 2020. Location: To be confirmed.
77/20. Governance Pack
The Board reviewed (previously circulated) the following –
- Board KPI 2019 – 2020 performance including Attendance Record of Governors 2019 – 2020; and
- Draft Register of Confidential Items considered by Board 2019 – 2020.
Staff and Student Governors left the meeting at this point.
PART II – CONFIDENTIAL SESSION
It was agreed that Minute Numbers 78 & 79/20 be considered as confidential 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 Minute Number 79/20.
78/20. FE Commissioner Draft Report – Verbal Update
The Board Chair provided a verbal update to the Board.
79/20. Draft Confidential Minutes and Recommendations - Board – 06 July 2020
The meeting concluded at 7.45 p.m.