Shrewsbury Colleges Group
Group Minutes of the Board
Date 30th March 20
Time 5.35 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, G. Channon (Chair), C. Davies, C. Gore, J. Harry, H. Hawksworth, R. Heath, R. Lopez, N. Merchant, R. Sartain, J. Staniforth (Principal/CEO), M. Thompson, P. Tucker, M. Willmot, R. Wilson and M. Wood.
In Attendance Members of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT):
D. Lucas, Group Vice Principal - Human Resource Development (GVP – HRD)
P. Morgan – Director of A Level Studies (DoALS)
P. Partridge – Finance Director (FD)
C. Pemberton, Group Vice-Principal, Quality and Curriculum Development (GVP – Q&CS).

Clerk to the Board – T. Cottee

S. McAlinden, Director of Curriculum Services (DoSC) (for pre-meeting presentation)
Apologies C. Armstrong, Group Vice Principal, Curriculum Support and Business Development (GVP – CS&BD), M. Brown, Group Vice Principal, I.T. and Strategic Development (GVP – IT&SD), K. Quant and C. Wassall.

Prior to the meeting, the DoCS gave a Development Briefing to all governors present on Safeguarding and PREVENT, which built on previous annual briefings. This Briefing included:

    • Criminal Exploitation – an explanation of its definition and the forms it can take;
    • ‘Cuckooing’ – an explanation and how it operates;
    • County Lines – an explanation of the definition and the regional and local context;
    • Vulnerable groups at risk from criminal exploitation;
    • Signs of criminal exploitation – signposts for those in education and methods used by gangs to criminally exploit young people;
    • County Lines activity in Shropshire and that the majority of known ‘lines’ do not run to Shrewsbury;
    • The College’s approach to raising awareness in staff and students, including –
      • Staff Training (Safeguarding Team and other staff);
      • Student Awareness Raising (Summer Term Tutorial) and the use of the film ‘Trapped’ from 2020/21 in tutorials, to raise awareness of criminal exploitation and stimulate debate;
      • Use of the Shropshire Child Exploitation Pathway (Risk Assessment and Referral/Support Process); and
      • Local intelligence – representation on Shropshire Safeguarding Network, Shropshire Child Exploitation Panel and SOCJAG.
    • Governors were directed to a variety of additional learning resources used by staff at the College including –
      • Virtual College Safeguarding Courses (through Shropshire Safeguarding Partnership) on
          • Mental Health Awareness
          • Safeguarding Children from abuse by sexual exploitation
          • Self-harm and suicidal thoughts in children and young people
          • Trafficking, exploitation and modern slavery
          • Understanding pathways to Extremism and the Prevent programme
          • Home Office Prevent E-Learning
          • Education and Training Foundation (ETF)
          • Zero Suicide Alliance (Video based package gives an understanding of issues around suicide prevention and some practical advice)
          • Professionals Learning Briefing: Criminal Exploitation and County Lines produced by the Keeping Adults Safe in Shropshire Board and Shropshire Safeguarding Children Board (SSCB).

After the presentation, governors asked questions on –

    • The impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the College’s ability to identify and protect vulnerable young students. The DoCS explained that all vulnerable students had been identified and the College was working with other agencies to check in regularly with them to ensure they were self-isolating in a safe place. All students red-flagged using the Shropshire Child Exploitation Pathway received twice-weekly child and parental contact. The College also had a ‘short-cut’ to escalate concerns regarding Looked After Young People in care to partner agencies.
    • How the College was assured that teachers were aware of the signs of criminal exploitation, self-harm and risk of suicide. The DoCS explained that this was evidenced by the increased number of referrals direct from teachers.

The Board thanked the DoCS for the comprehensive update and reiterated its support for the College’s Safeguarding Team


11/20. Declarations of Interest

    1. A. Allen declared a Standing Interest as an employee of Harper Adams University.
    2. R. Heath declared a Standing Interest as an employee of Harper Adams University.
    3. C. Davies declared an interest in Minute No. 19/20.
    4. C. Gore declared an interest in Minute No. 19/20.
    5. M. Willmot declared an interest in Minute No. 19/20

12/20. Minutes of Board Meetings(Appendices a – c – Agenda Item 3)

Resolved: That the Minutes of the following meetings held on –

    1. 16 December 2019;
    2. 25 February 2020; and
    3. 17 March 2020
      be approved as a true record.

13/20. Matters Arising


14/20. Chair’s Announcements

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.

15/20. Principal/CEO’s Report (Appendices – Agenda item 6)

The Principal/CEO spoke to his reports (previously circulated), which included –

    • The College’s Coronavirus response;
    • Enrolment Update;
    • College Students’ Sporting Achievements; and
    • College Students’ Academic and Competition Achievements.

He spoke to the paper on the Coronavirus response covering -

    • The management of the ever-evolving situation regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. He confirmed that, according to Government guidance, the College remained open to eligible students, although the vast majority had chosen to self-isolate at this time. The College would be open for six days over the Easter period.. He considered that there might be a rise in the number of students attending College during and after the Easter closure, but this was yet to be confirmed. However, the College continued to work with partner agencies and the local authority regarding the safeguarding of vulnerable students. All safeguarding checks undertaken were logged, including the additional risk assessments now being undertaken through the Shropshire Child Exploitation Pathway.
    • The impact of the closure on College finances. A report would be considered by the Finance & Business Operations Committee on 30 March 2020, setting out an assessment of the impact of the College closure on key income lines. 16 – 19 grant funding payments would continue as planned, with no clawback likely. Adult Education Budget payments were continuing on profile; however, there had been no confirmation regarding end-of-year reconciliation arrangements.Uncertainty regarding Apprenticeship funding and delivery models remained across the sector. The College was working to support its apprentices by delivering off-the-job training remotely and encouraging employers to retain apprentices. The College continued to enjoy a positive and supportive relationship with its Bank and had been offered the option of an overdraft facility.

The College continued to engage with students remotely and to focus them on learning. The GVP – C&QM reported that, based on daily reports from curriculum leaders, there was a high degree of student engagement for vocational assignment-based courses; however it was more challenging for students on practical-based programmes. Teachers continued to work with Progression Specialists to monitor and encourage continued engagement. The DoALS explained that Year 2 Academic students were strongly encouraged to complete their programmed curriculum and Year 1 students were working to their planned programmes of study. All student engagement was being monitored and followed-up and students were being offered IT support and access to IT equipment, if required. The Staff Governor (Academic – English & Welsh Bridge Campuses) explained how he was delivering maths and statistics lessons using remote technology, particularly using ‘live streaming’.On the whole, it had been a positive experience for students; however, it was challenging to test out students’ engagement and understanding remotely. Asked if he considered if remote teaching could be pursued once the College was operational again, he responded he was of the view that good content could only be delivered online if positive relationships had already been developed with students. This view was supported by the Parent Governor (Academic).

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

16/20. Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) Update

The Chair provided a verbal update on his communications with the ESFA over guidelines on how it would approach intervention. This included setting out additional conditions to the College’s Funding Agreement, to which the Chair had to respond, including the requirement to have in place a Post Inspection Action Plan (PIAP) and for the Board to put in place appropriate oversight arrangements for the implementation of the PIAP. Due to the impact of Covid-19, the ESFA had indicated that it would accept submission of the PIAP and planned oversight arrangements by a revised deadline of 22 April 2020.

A Special Meeting of the Board would be required before this date to ratify the PIAP and the proposed Terms of Reference of a PIAP Steering Committee. The draft PIAP and Steering Committee terms would be circulated to governors for comment prior to the Special Meeting.

Resolved: That a Special Meeting of Board be held on Monday, 20 April 2020 (time to be confirmed) by remote access to consider the draft PIAP and draft Terms of Reference of the PIAP Steering Committee.

ACTION: Board meeting to be arranged and papers to the circulated.

17/20. Summary of Minutes and Recommendations from Committees (Appendices – Agenda Item 8 a – e)

Chairs of the committees presented the minutes of the following meetings, drawing the Board’s attention to items of particular interest and presenting recommendations.

Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee – 27 January 2020 (Appendix – Agenda Item 8a) (Minutes previously circulated)

Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee – 23 March 2020 (Appendix – Agenda Item 8e) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

The Committee Chair gave a verbal update covering both meetings -

    • The link governors for Higher Education, Apprenticeships, Safeguarding and Equality & Diversity had confirmed that they had met with the relevant SLT officer in the Term and had given updates to the Committee.
    • The Committee continued to scrutinise progress data regarding apprenticeship progression. The Committee had received a report from the GVP – IT&SD on the impact of Covid-19 on the College’s ability to deliver timely completions.
    • The Committee had received data on student surveys and had asked for progress reports on action plans.
    • Regarding Progress Grade 2 & 3, the Committee had reviewed progress grades and probed to check that progress grades were reliable and consistent. It had set out expectations for improved outcomes, particularly around predicted ‘mid-range’ grades. The Committee also monitored subjects where results were below benchmarks and expected targets. The expectation was that there would be a continued improvement.

Finance & Business Operations Committee – 25 February 2020 (Appendix – Agenda item 8b) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

The Committee Chair gave a verbal update. All governors had received the College Management Accounts.

Audit Committee – 18 March 2020 (Appendices – Agenda item 8c) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

The Committee Chair gave a verbal update and presented the following recommendation.

18/20. Risk Register 2019 – 2020 – Revised Format

The format of the Risk Register (previously circulated) has been revised and subsequently approved by Board (Board Min. No. 65/19 refers) to incorporate a new set of definitions and working methodology.

The Committee had agreed that the revised format provided a robust mechanism to assess risk probability and mitigate and manage risks and had concluded the risks had been appropriately identified and the management actions reported were effectively mitigating these risks.
On the direction of the Committee, the Register had been revised to include an additional risk to reflect the risk that the College did not effectively mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on students’ learning, to be reviewed by the Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee. The FD was also requested to reassess the impact of the risk of industrial action in light of Covid-19.

The Board having, reviewed the revised format -
Resolved: That the revised Risk Register 2019 – 2020, be approved; and that the following reporting conventions be established going forward –

    1. the Board shall receive for consideration those specific risks it or SLT has identified as requiring Board review, and, in addition, any other risks considered by committees where the current risk level is considered greater than the risk appetite;
    2. Board committees shall receive for consideration all risks they have been requested to consider, (including those where the current risk level is within the risk appetite). In reviewing these risks Board committees shall also confirm or amend their risk appetite; and
    3. going forward, the Audit Committee shall receive for consideration all risks on the Register.

Search & Governance Committee – 19 March 2020 (Appendix – Agenda item 8d & di) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

The Committee Chair gave a verbal update and presented the following recommendation.

19/20. Independent Governor Succession Planning – Update

The Committee had agreed that it was vital to maintain a high skills level in Safeguarding on the Board going forward and had directed the Clerk to focus search activities in this area.

At its meeting on 17 March 2020, the Board had agreed that, in order to retain skills on the Board and maintain stability in governance going forward, it was minded to extend the Terms of those governors whose terms were ending during 2020, until 31 December 2020, subject to the advice of the Committee, as required by Article 5 (Board Min. No. 9/20 refers).

Having considered the Board’s skills requirements, considering the confidential verbal reports referred to in Board Minute Number 07/20, and the need to maintain cohesion and stability of the Board membership in the wholly exceptional circumstances presented by the public health emergency arising from the Coronavirus Pandemic, it was

Resolved: That Instrument 8(a) be suspended so that the Terms of C. Davies, C Gore, R. Sartain, C. Wassall and M Willmot be extended to 31 December 2020.

20/20. Appointment Procedure for Governors

The Committee had reviewed the current Appointment of Governors and Determination Policy to ensure it remained effective, appropriate to the Board’s needs and accessible to applicants (S&G Min. No. 20/19 refers).

The Board considered the revised Policy (previously circulated), which clarified the procedure for meeting candidates informally following the receipt of completed applications that had passed initial Due Diligence checks. Having agreed that the revised Policy met the requirements, it was

Resolved: That the revised Appointment of Governors and Determination Policy be approved.

21/20. Special Search & Governance Committee – 25 March 2020 (Appendix – Agenda item 8f) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

The Committee Chair gave a verbal update and presented the following recommendation.

22/20. Independent Governor Vacancy

At its meeting on 18 March 2020 (S&G Min. No. 03/10 refers), the Committee had received a verbal update from the Board Chair and Committee Chair on informal interviews conducted (by remote access) with candidates for Independent Governor opportunities. Having considered the verbal report and assessed the applicants’ skills against the current Board Skills Audit the Committee had resolved that candidate GM be invited for formal interview by remote access at a Special Committee meeting held on 25 March 2020.

Having interviewed the applicant to assess the candidate‘s skills and qualities in light of the current Board skills base and the Governor Person Specification and Job Description, the Committee had considered that the candidate‘s previous experience as a school governor and governor of Shrewsbury Sixth Form College and demonstration in interview of enthusiasm and motivation to engage in governance would be beneficial.

Resolved: That, having considered the Committee’s report, the candidate, Graham Mills, be appointed as a co-opted Finance & Business Operations Committee Member for a Two Year Term with effect from 31 March 2020.

The Committee members fedback to the Board on conducting interviews for Board opportunities by remote access. It was considered that the remote medium encouraged more structured and formal interactions and, going forward, when the College became operational, the application process would include opportunities to meet candidates informally.

23/20. Financial Regulations (Appendix – Agenda item 9)

The Board reviewed revised College Financial Regulations (previously circulated). The next review was scheduled for July 2021, to bring updates in line with Financial years.

Resolved: That the Financial Regulations be approved.

24/20. Risk

Further to Minute No. 18/20, the Board reviewed those risks specific to the Board.

The Board acknowledged that the fast-evolving risks relating to the Covid-19 infection were now rated as the most significant risks facing the College. The FD also agreed to add a risk regarding the impact of flooding on the town centre campuses, at the request of the Staff Governor (Support).


It was agreed that Minute Number 25/20, be considered as confidential under Instrument 13 (5) and (9) and Standing Order 11.

In accordance with Instrument 13 (5) (a), the Principal/CEO left the meeting at this point.

In accordance with Standing Order 11, Staff Governors left the meeting at this point.

25/20. Summary of Draft Confidential Minute

Board – 17 March 2020 (Confidential Appendix 12a) (previously circulated)

The Draft Confidential Minutes were presented.

Resolved: That the Confidential Minutes of the meeting held on 17 March 2020, were approved as a true record.

26/20. Date of Next Meetings

Special Meeting – 20 April 2020. To be conducted by remote access
Scheduled Meeting – 06 July 2020. Location: To be confirmed.


The meeting concluded at 7.07 p.m.