Shrewsbury Colleges Group
Group Minutes of the Board
Date 27th March 23
Time 5.33pm
Minutes Membership In attendance
A Benghiat, A Caesar-Homden, B. Greenaway R. Harrison, A Hodson, D. Jones, G. Mills, R. Sartain, C. Sharp, J. Sharrock, P. Tucker and R. Wilson (Chair).
In Attendance Members of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT):
C. Armstrong, Vice Principal, Students & Partnerships (VP – S&P)
M. Brown, Vice Principal, Quality, Apprenticeships & Information (VP – Q, A & I)
D. Lucas, Vice Principal – People (VP – P)
S. McAlinden – Assistant Principal - Curriculum Support (AP, CS)
P. Partridge – Executive Director of Finance (EDoF)

T. Cottee - Clerk to the Board

In attendance:
D. Pulford (Finance & Business Operations Co Opted Committee Member).
Apologies Dr J. Barratt, J. Staniforth (Principal/Chief Executive), N. Stitch, M. Thompson, B. Wilson and L. Wright. M. Laws, Vice Principal, Technical & Vocational Education (VP – T&VE) C. Sears – Vice Principal, A Level Studies (VP - ALS)


01/23. Declarations of Interest

    1. The Executive Director of Finance declared an interest in Minute Number 15/23. He left the meeting before consideration of the item.
    2. The Clerk to the Board declared an interest in Minute Number 15/23. She left the meeting before consideration of the relevant item.

02/23. Minutes of Board held 12 December 2022 (Appendices – Agenda item 3)

Resolved: That the Minutes of the meeting held on 12 December 2022, be approved as a true record.

Minute Number 68/22. Strategic Discussion
The Board Chair provided a verbal update and explained that the Task & Finish Group to explore how governors could engage with employers and the college’s stakeholders had met. The Board Chair would submit a report to the P/CEO on proposals and report further to the next Board meeting.

Minute Number 72/22
In response to a question, the AP, CS explained that the college was working in partnership with UCS on the Project Search Supported Internship Programme for 18–24-year-old students with an EHCP who were committed to moving into paid employment. This programme, based at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, would start in September 2023 and applications were now open. This initiative would provide progression opportunities for the college’s Health & Social Care cohort.

03/23. Matters Arising

The VP, S&P explained that the P/CEO and two senior leadership team colleagues were visiting Baude Canton in Switzerland as part of an initiative developed in partnership with Barnes International to welcome a fee-paying cohort of 13 Swiss students to the college from September 2023, for one year to study German, Maths and the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) programme plus two further elective subjects at the English & Welsh Bridge campuses. The delegation was also in negotiations to welcome a cohort of students from the Region to study a vocational programme at the London Road Campus. The Board Chair congratulated the SLT on securing the arrangement.

04/23. Chair’s Announcements

The Chair –

      • Welcomed A. Caesar Homden and D. Jones to their first Board meeting.
      • Advised that there had been one Learning Walk since the last Board meeting (Academic Provision) on 09 March 2023. Unfortunately, inclement weather had curtailed the visit and it would be rescheduled for the summer term. Those who attended praised the college’s swift reaction to the developing inclement weather on the day, to ensure the safety of students and staff.
      • Invited governors and SLT members to a dinner at Origins Restaurant on 25 May 2023.
      • Presented gifts of appreciation to D. Pulford, the Finance & Business Operations Committee Co-opted Member and J. Sharrock, Appointed Governor, who were leaving the Board. Mr Pulford had been a governor of the former Shrewsbury Sixth Form College since 2009 and had joined the SCG Board on merger before supporting the F&BO Committee as a co-opted committee member. The Board Chair paid tribute to his commitment to the college, particularly his consistent support for college events. Ms Sharrock had joined the Board in January 2021 and the Board thanked her for her impact both as Chair of the Quality, Curriculum & Standards Committee and as Safeguarding Link Governor.

Chair’s Actions

05/23. Principal/CEO’s Report (Confidential Appendix – Agenda item 6)

The EDoF on behalf of the Pl/CEO provided a thorough strategic overview (previously circulated) on the following topics in particular –

      • Funding, Finances and Pay. The spring budget had contained no additional funding for colleges to meet inflationary costs in-year or into the 2023-24 academic year. The college’s two biggest areas of expenditure were pay, where teaching unions were still to reach a final pay settlement for 2022-23, and energy. Pay negotiations for 2023-24, would be challenging, because colleges would only receive a 2% inflationary increase on the current funding rate. The college faced ongoing increases in its energy costs and the loss of 16-18 income following the fall in 16-18 enrolments for 2022-23. Whilst the college was currently able to manage its position next year through non-replacement of staff and ending fixed term contracts, an unfunded pay award above 2% would require significant cost savings over and above those already identified and actioned.
      • Industrial Action. The college had remained open on the National Education Union (NEU) days of action held in February and March; disruption being minimised through cover arrangements.
      • T Levels. The college would offer a suite of T Levels from September 2023. The college had received c.£1.37mn to support the purchase of specialist equipment required, therefore enhancing the learning experience for these students. However, T Levels were not a mass qualification to replace the college’s existing suite of BTEC and CTEC Extended Diplomas nor would they particularly suit students who preferred continuous assessment. In addition, T Level required an extended industry placement of around seven weeks, which would be challenging to provide for a large number of learners. Certain BTEC qualifications popular with students, such as Travel & Tourism and Uniformed Public Services, where in 2022, all 30 students progressed to positive destinations, would not be replaced by a T Level. The P/CEO had signed a joint letter organised by the Sixth Form Colleges’ Association (SFCA) as part of its ‘Protect Student Choice’ campaign and had also written to Robert Halfon, the Minister of State for Skills, expressing his concern that defunding BTECs would result in a drastic reduction in 16 to 18 students being able to learn and achieve at Level 3.
      • Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs) and Accountability Agreement. LSIPs were being finalised to meet the May deadline for publication. The Skills and Post-16 Education Act 2022, placed a duty on the college to co-operate in the development and review of the Shropshire LSIP and once developed, to have regard to these plans when considering its training and education offer. The college had to produce an Accountability Agreement, signed off by the Board, setting out the college’s plans for the coming year, including national skills priorities and incorporating LSIP actions. As the Board would have a key role to play in periodically reviewing the appropriateness of the curriculum and approving the accountability agreement each year, the focus of the Strategy and Development Day in April would be on how the college met the needs of stakeholders with a focus on the LSIP and the developing accountability agreement. Representatives of an external consultancy appointed to provide independent insight into the work would be presenting on the day.
      • Full-time applications for 2023 – latest figures. The college’s efforts were focussed on translating applications into enrolments.
      • GCSE Resit results. The college continued to perform well with respect to resit results.
      • Retention, attendance and progress monitoring. Retention continued to show recovery because of the efforts of existing teams, the additional learning mentors and student engagement staff. Attendance continued to be affected by external factors such as train strikes, issues with transport and, most recently, snow and flooding. However, ongoing actions taken by the college had mitigated the overall impact.
      • Matrix Accreditation. Following a recent visit, it was confirmed that the college would continue with its accreditation.

The VP – P provided a verbal update on the college’s participation in the 2023 ‘Brit Challenge – 23 Acts of Kindness’, describing the numerous activities undertaken by students, staff and governors. The college had exceeded its fund-raising target.

06/23. Strategic Development Plan – Update on Progress (Appendix – Agenda Item 7)

The Board considered an update on progress against the Operational Implementation Plan: Year 2 (previously circulated).

The Board reviewed progress and made the following observations:

      • 1.1 – Strand 6 – Introduce CTEC in Criminology. The Board observed the high level of interest received from prospective students. In response to questions, it was confirmed that the CTEC was equivalent to a BTEC.
      • 1.1 – Strand 2 – Develop and implement a suite of bespoke adult numeracy programmes as part of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. In response to a question on what challenges this strand may present, the EDoF explained that, whilst ANTA had been pleased with the amount of activity generated so far, there was a risk that, going forward, it may not choose to work directly with colleges. The college would learn the outcome soon.
      • In response to a question, the VP – Q, A & I explained that the Board could expect to see implementation of the college’s Digital Strategy in Year 3 of the Operational Plan.
      • In response to a question, members of the SLT explained that they felt progress against the various strands were going well, with projects to be delivered to expected timescales and, in terms of college focus, it was refreshing to concentrate on developing and delivering the Plan, after a period of focusing on external matters. However, the college would continue to respond to external events when required, as the sector remained in a period of unprecedented challenge.

07/23. The 2021 – 22 College Self-Assessment Report (Appendix – Agenda Item 8)

The Board reviewed the Draft Self-Assessment Report (SAR) (previously circulated). The Draft had been reviewed in detail by the Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee (QSC Min. No. 14/23 refers).

The VP – Q, A & I explained that:

      • The 2021 – 22 SAR marked a departure from previous reports in terms of how examples of good practice and areas for further improvement were recorded.
      • The Report linked clearly with both the Strategic Plan and the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).
      • The Report included more data than previously; however, this not only demonstrated transparency but also allowed for a clearer measurement of impact and progress in improving outcomes for students.
      • OFSTED would be provided with a copy, although there was no obligation to do so.
      • In response to a question, there were no plans to subject the SAR to external validation.

The Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee Chair explained that the Report had undergone a thorough review at Committee and had commended the revised layout and clearer links with the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), as this would provide a basis for comparison going forward and allow governors to make a more meaningful assessment of progress.

08/23. Radbrook Foundation - Appointment of Second Nominative Trustee (Agenda Item 9)

The Board considered the appointment of a second Nominative Trustee to the Radbrook Foundation.

Having been proposed by R. Sartain and seconded by C. Sharp, it was

Resolved: That J. Staniforth be appointed as the second Nominative Trustee to the Radbrook Foundation with effect from 28 March 2023.

ACTION: Clerk advise the Radbrook Foundation

09/23. Summary of Minutes and Recommendations from Committees (Appendices – Agenda Items 10a – 10f)

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 – 23 January 2023 (Appendix – Agenda Item 10a) (Minutes previously circulated)

The Committee Chair explained there were no recommendations. However, the Committee had reviewed in detail:

      • The role of learning enhancement in the Quality Assurance & Enhancement Process.
      • The curriculum development cycle for 2023/24.
      • The development of the college’s higher education offer set out in a Draft HE Strategy.
      • Progress against the development of the college’s T Level provision.
      • Progress against the delivery of the college’s Careers Strategy.

Finance & Business Operations Committee – 07 February 2023 (Appendix – Agenda Item 10b.) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

The Committee Chair presented the following recommendation -

10/23. Draft Financial Regulations (Appendix, Agenda Item 10bi)

The Committee had reviewed minor revisions made to the College’s Financial Regulations (previously circulated) to ensure they remained robust and effective.

Having reviewed the recommended revisions, it was:

Resolved: That the College Financial Regulations, as revised, be approved.

Search & Governance Committee – 08 March 2023 (Appendix – Agenda Item 10c.) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

The Committee Chair presented the following recommendation -

11/23. Independent Governor

The Committee had interviewed formally a candidate for an Independent Governor appointment, based on an assessment of a submitted CV and application form/skills audit (previously circulated).

Having considered the skills and experience of the candidate, which included working in an education environment, the future skills requirements of the Board and to maintain quality governance, it was

Resolved that: J. Hoyland be appointed as an Independent Governor for a Four-Year Term, with effect from 01 April 2023 and be appointed to the Finance & Business Operations Committee and the Search & Governance Committee.

Action: Clerk to support newly appointed governor in Induction.

Audit Committee – 15 March 2023 (Agenda Item 10d.)

The Committee Chair presented the following recommendation -

12/23. Risk Register and Board Assurance Framework (BAF) (Appendix – Agenda Item 10di)

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. A new strategic risk had been added to the Register (FBO 26 – Planned defunding of AGQs) as the government had announced the defunding of a broader range of advance general qualifications than originally announced.

The EDoF confirmed that the risk of the adverse financial impact of significant under recruitment of planned 16 – 18 learner numbers had materialised for 2023-24. The college was focussed on improving recruitment for September 2023, which would determine funding in 2024-25. The VP, S&P explained the arrangements the college had put in place to maximise applications, including partnering a member of the Admissions Team with a specific school, to ensure a consistent approach to the relationship, taking opportunities to visit schools and investing in interview training for staff to ensure all applicants received a positive experience and to maximise conversion of application to enrolment.

The Committee Chair advised that the next pre-Committee Risk Briefing would be on the college’s I.T business continuity arrangements.

The Board concluded that the risks have been appropriately identified and the management actions reported were effectively mitigating these risks.

Resolved: That the Risk Register and Board Assurance Framework (BAF) – March 2023 Update, be approved.

Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee – 20 March 2023 (Agenda Item 10e)

The Committee Chair explained there were no recommendations. However, the Committee had reviewed in detail:

      • The Draft College Self-Assessment
      • Progress against the Quality Enhancement Plan
      • Progress Grade 2 outcomes
      • Reports on apprenticeships, higher education and student voice.

Finance & Business Operations Committee – 21 March 2023 (Agenda Item 10f)

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.

13/23. Risk (Agenda Item 11)

The Board reviewed those risks specific to the Board and requested that the Risks be updated to reflect the Register approved at Min No. 12/23.

14/23. Date of Next Meeting

Strategic Planning Day – Friday, 21 April 2023 from 9.00 a.m.
Scheduled Meeting – Monday, 10 July 2023 from 5.30 p.m. Venue tbc


It was agreed that Minute Number 15/23 be considered as a confidential item 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 Item 15/23.

Staff and Student Governors and all members of SLT, except for the VP – P, left the meeting at this point.

The Executive Director of Finance and Clerk to the Board left the meeting.

In accordance with Instrument 12, a Board member was appointed to act as Clerk to the Committee during her absence.

15/23. Draft Confidential Minutes and Recommendations – Board – 12 December 2022 (Confidential Verbal Report)

The Chair of the Committee provided a confidential verbal update, details set out in a Confidential Minute.

The meeting concluded at 7.32 p.m.