Shrewsbury Colleges Group
Group Minutes of the Board
Date 29th March 21
Time 5.32p.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, H. Hawksworth, B. Greenaway, R. Heath (Vice Chair), N. Merchant, G. Mills, K. Quant, J. Rowe, R. Sartain, J. Staniforth (Principal/Chief Executive), M. Thompson, P. Tucker, C. Wassall, J. Wildman, and R. Wilson (Chair).
D. Pulford (F&BO co-opted committee member).
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, I.T. and Strategic Development (GVP – I&SD)
D. Lucas, Group Vice Principal - Human Resource Development (GVP – HRD)
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 R. Lopez, J. Sharrock.

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.


01/21. 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. D. Pulford declared an interest in Minute Number 08/21. He left the meeting for the duration of the item.
  4. The Finance Director, Clerk to the Board and Principal/CEO declared an interest in Minute Number 14/21. They left the meeting before consideration of the relevant part of the item.

02/21. Minutes of Meeting Held 14 December 2020 (Appendix – Agenda item 3)

Resolved: That the Minutes of the meetings held on 14 December 2020, be approved as a true record.

03/21. Matters Arising


04/21. Chair’s Announcements

New Members of the Board
The Chair welcomed B. Greenaway, G. Mills and J. Rowe to their first Board meeting since appointment to the Board.

Education & Training Foundation Board Review – Final Report
The Chair reported that the Final Report has been circulated to all governors. The Report’s recommendations would be incorporated into the Board’s Quality Improvement Plan and overseen by the Search & Governance Committee.

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 a revised Committee Membership 2020 – 2021, with effect from 05 January 2021.
      2. Approval of authority for the College to enter into a variation of lease and license to assign between the College, Severndale Specialist Academy and the Learning Community Trust relating to the lease of land at the Futures Centre, London Road Campus, London Road, Shrewsbury.
      3. Approval of matters with respect to the remuneration of Senior Post Holders, set out in a Confidential Minute.

05/21. Principal/CEO’s Report (Confidential Appendix – Agenda item 6)

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

      • Return to Campus, setting out details of the phased return to College, the programme of lateral flow tests conducted for c4,000 students in preparation for returning to face-to-face teaching for all students from 22 March 2021 and the issue of a ‘Welcome Back’ Pack for students and staff. The College’s programme of measures had been augmented by a new requirement for students to wear face coverings in lessons. In addition, staff and students were encouraged to carry out regular home tests.
      • OFSTED. The latest Monitoring Visit Report had confirmed that the College had made ‘significant progress’.
      • Growth Funding. The College had been awarded additional in-year funding by the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) due to over-recruitment against its 16-19 number target.
      • Staff Recognition and Engagement, setting out details of how staff had been supported and their hard work recognised by the College during lockdown.
      • Applications for September 2021 – Progress Update.
      • Industrial Action
      • New Automotive Engineering Building
      • Assessments for students completing qualifications. There were different approaches for different types of qualifications. A Levels, GCSEs and applied general vocational qualifications (BTEC and Cambridge Technical qualifications) would be awarded by teachers through the TAG or Teacher Assessed Grade process. Technical and professional qualifications which bestowed competency would be considered individually by the awarding bodies. Where students had significant gaps in practical work and assessments, the College would put in place additional teaching sessions with the intention of supporting students to achieve the grades expected.
      • Erasmus Prison Education Project.
      • Virtual Awards Evening – 24 March 2021.
      • Matrix Accreditation – successful reaccreditation of the Matrix Accreditation for the Careers Education, Information and Advice Guidance Service provided to applicants and students.
      • Students’ Achievements, exams, and competition success.

In response to a question, the P/CEO and GVP – Q&C provided an update on T Levels and the College’s preparations for the probable introduction of T Levels to the College from 2024.

In response to a question, the FD explained that the Automotive Centre at London Road Campus was equipped and set up to maintain electric and hybrid cars. The College had a hybrid car as part of its carpool, which would be maintained in the Centre. The GVP – Q&CS explained that the cars used by students for their practical work, were due to be replaced and the College was looking for sponsors to assist with the purchase of new vehicles. The P/CEO explained that, as part of its Easter recruitment campaign, the College was looking to recruit teaching staff with skills sets to work on hybrid and electric cars, to supplement the existing skillset in the Motor Vehicle Team.

The Board Chair referred to the high levels of student attendance mentioned in the Report, with a third of students achieving 100%, despite immense challenges, and the positive applications so far, for 2021 - 2022. The Board Chair enquired if the College was able to benchmark its application performance against other colleges. The P/CEO explained that, as enrolment was down to many variables, including local and one-off circumstances, this made benchmarking challenging.

In response to a question, the P/CEO acknowledged that the increased demand presented capacity challenges going forward. The DoALs explained that the utilisation of practical spaces, such as laboratories, presented a challenge at the English & Welsh Bridge campuses. The GVP – Q&CS explained that the challenge at the London Road Campus focussed on adequate student social space. The Board acknowledged that the breadth of opportunity being offered to students by the College should be celebrated; however, increasing the capacity of the College to meet the needs of students and the community going forward was a key strategic challenge. A key component of the Draft Strategic Plan was therefore the development of an estates strategy which covered the period to 2025 and went beyond the period of the Draft Plan.

The Vice Chair welcomed the in-year growth funding received and congratulated the College on the favourable OFSTED Monitoring Report outcome.

The Board also reviewed progress against Key Performance Indicators: Targets and Progress 2020-2021.

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

06/21. Draft Strategic Plan

Further to the Strategic Planning Event held in January 2021, the Board considered the Draft College Strategic Development Plan 2021 – 2025 (previously circulated).

Governors had been invited to submit questions in advance, which had been circulated to the P/CEO.

The P/CEO presented the background to the Draft, explained the consultation process leading up to the creation of the Draft and how it had been informed by the Strategic Planning Event. He confirmed that the next step was to develop the shorter-term operational ‘route map’ to delivering the Strategy.

In response to a question on whether the Strategy should specify more clearly what was meant by ‘the College’s common culture’, the P/CEO explained that the core College culture centred around placing the student at the heart of everything it did; this was supported by ‘pillars’, setting out expected standards for all staff. The Board requested that the Strategy recognise that, whilst students were at the heart of everything the College did, ‘culture’ referred to wider issues and these should be referred to in the Development Plan. After discussion it was AGREED that the Draft Plan be amended to refer to ‘shared’ rather than ‘common’ culture.

In response to a question on the intended audience for the Strategy, the P/CEO explained that the document was directly for the College’s use though it would be shared with other stakeholders as appropriate. The Board Chair stated that he expected the Plan to be available to everyone with a stake in the College.

In response to a question regarding how the 2025 Ambition on innovation and shared ambition would be measured going forward, the P/CEO explained that there were no measurements in the strategy as it stood, and one would not be added in relation to a single area. He suggested that, to provide assurance to the Board, progress would be measured through the committees’ workplans. This could be complemented by audit work, to provide further assurance.

In response to a question on whether more emphasis should be placed on partnership and working with others, as reflected in the FE White Paper, the P/CEO explained that this was covered in the Strategic Goals and Risks.

In response to a question on whether the, as yet, unknown effect of the Covid-19 pandemic should be built into the Plan, the P/CEO explained that this cut across a number of goals and risks. The operational plan would set out more explicitly how this would be provided for alongside the longer-term aspirations for the College regarding safeguarding/high quality student experience.

In response to a question around the impact of the FE White Paper and reliability of funding for the Plan, the GVP – I&SD explained that, although there could be uncertainty around T level funding going forward, it was unlikely that the model of funding for 16 - 19 would change. The challenge for the College going forward would be centred on Adult Education Budget (AEB) funding, particularly the national delivery of the College’s GMB provision, due to the risk of devolution.

In response to a question on whether there should be a stronger reference in the Plan to the OFSTED Inspection Framework, particularly with respect to outcomes, evidence of students’ long-term retention of learning and the achievement of students with additional needs, the GVP – QCS acknowledged the importance of this point, particularly as the College had a strong track record with respect to EHCP students, which had been recognised by OFSTED. The P/CEO explained that Strategic Goals and Risks 1.2, 1.4 and 1.5 would address this.

In response to a question on whether there had been sufficient consultation on the proposal to change the operating name of the College, the P/CEO explained that the College would be working with stakeholders going forward on the College’s identity, including its name change.

Having reviewed thoroughly the Draft, it was AGREED that the Development Plan reflected the strategic ambitions and priorities of the Board and

Resolved: That the Shrewsbury Colleges Group Draft Strategic Development Plan 2020 – 2025, be approved in principle, subject to consideration of the following suggestions in the Final Plan –

      1. Placing Part 2 before Part 1.
      2. Minor changes to wording

07/21. Summary of Minutes and Recommendations from Committees (Appendices – Agenda Items 8 a – f)

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 – 25 January 2021 (Appendix – Agenda Item 8a) (Minutes previously circulated)

The Committee had –

        • undergone several changes to Committee membership.
        • scrutinised and validated the Self-Assessment Report for 2019/20.
        • reviewed progress against the HE Quality Improvement Plan.
        • reviewed the 2020/21 Student Induction Survey and the 2019/20 Student Leaver Survey and had seen favourable feedback in both along with suitable remedial actions being planned and implemented in response to feedback.
        • reviewed progress grades on academic, vocational and apprenticeship courses. During the pandemic the Committee had assurance that learners were being kept safe, supported, and engaged, that attendance of online learning was monitored, and that practical teaching be reintroduced when possible.

Finance & Business Operations Committee – 09 February 2021 (Appendix – Agenda Item 8b) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

Search & Governance Committee – 03 March 2021 (Appendix – Agenda Item 8c) (Minutes previously circulated)

D. Pulford left the meeting for the consideration of this item.

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

08/21. Application for Board Opportunity

Having been assured that the Committee had carefully considered the Board’s succession plan, skills audit returns, the future skills requirements of the Board and to maintain quality governance, the Board –

Resolved: That Mr J. Barratt be appointed as a co-opted Audit Committee member for a Term of Two years with effect from 30 March 2021.

09/21. Terms of Co-Opted Committee Members

Having been assured that the Committee had carefully considered the Board’s succession plan, skills audit returns, the future skills requirements of the Board and to maintain quality governance, the Board –

Resolved: That

      1. the Term of Mr D. Pulford as a co-opted Finance & Business Operations Committee member be extended for One Year with effect from 30 March 2021, to support the search for co-opted committee member candidates with appropriate professional expertise to support the development of the College’s property strategy; and
      2. The Term of Mr C. Sharp as a co-opted Audit Committee member be extended for Two Years with effect from 30 March 2021.

D. Pulford returned to the meeting.

10/21. 16 – 19 Student Governor

The Clerk to the Board reported that, as a result of an election held last week, Ella Rees, had been nominated as 16 – 19 Student Governor with effect from 01 August 2021.

Post Inspection Action Plan Steering Committee – 11 March 2021 (Appendix – Agenda Item 8d) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

These Minutes would be submitted to the Education & Skills Funding Agency, in accordance with additional conditions of funding.

Audit Committee – 17 March 2021 (Appendix – Agenda Item 8e) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

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

11/21. Risk Register and Board Assurance Framework (BAF) (Appendix – Agenda Item 8ei)

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 and Board Assurance Framework (BAF) – February 2021, be approved

Quality, Standards & Curriculum Committee –22 March 2021 (Appendix – Agenda Item 8f) (Draft Minutes previously circulated)

The Committee had –

      • reviewed progress towards the Quality Improvement Action Plan and noted that most actions were completed, and others were on track.
      • reviewed the External Examiners and Verifiers Reports for HE and the HE Quality Improvement Plan.
      • reviewed the HE Access and Participation Plan and discussed how the Office for Students had the same expectations of FE providers of HE courses as it did of Universities; however, it was more challenging for an FE provider to meet the required standard due to infrastructure and specialise resources.
      • received a presentation on the National Online Safety resource that the College has acquired which the Clerk to the Board had circulated to all governors.
      • noted the need to seek assurances around IAG, careers advice and destinations in its assessment of risk and would receive an Agency update at the next meeting

Further to Minute No. 18/20, the Board reviewed those risks specific to the Board. In response to a question on whether the register sufficiently addressed the risk of flooding, the Committee Chair explained that Risk 17 addressed this risk and that the Committee had been assured that the College had demonstrated that it had in place effective mitigations to manage disruptions to business.

12/21.Date of Next Meeting – Monday, 12 July 2021 from 5.30 p.m. Venue – tbc.


It was agreed that Minute Numbers 13 & 14 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 Minute Number 14/21.

13/21. Draft Confidential Minutes and Recommendations - Finance & Business Operations Committee – 09 February 2021 (Confidential Appendix – Agenda Item 11a)

The Committee Chair gave a verbal update and presented a confidential recommendation.

Resolved: As set out in a Confidential Minute.

The Senior Post Holders (Principal/CEO, Finance Director and Clerk to the Board), Staff and Student Governors and all members of the Senior Leadership Team, except for the GVP – HRD, left the meeting at this point.

In accordance with Instrument 12, the Vice Chair was appointed to act as Clerk to the Committee during her absence.

14/21. Chair’s Action (Verbal Report)

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

The meeting concluded at 7.45 p.m.