Shrewsbury Colleges Group
Group Minutes of Finance & Business Operations Committee
Date 18th May 22
Time 5.30 pm
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).

B. Greenaway, J. Rowe and R. Wilson (Chair)

In attendance:
T. Cottee – Clerk to the Board
Apologies J. Staniforth (Principal/CEO)

07/22. Declarations of Interest


08/22. Minutes of the Meeting Held 09 March 2022 (Appendix – Agenda Item 3) (previously circulated)

Resolved: That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 09 March 2022, be approved as a true record.

09/22. Board Vacancies and Succession Planning (Appendix – Agenda Item 4)

Applications for Board Opportunity

The Clerk had undertaken an extensive search & recruitment campaign.  All applications submitted had passed Due Diligence Checks and, after a long-listing process, 3 applications which could match the Board’s skills requirements and skills succession plan, having skills and experience in working in further education and the LEP, had been short listed to progress to an informal meeting with the P/CEO.  

Informal meetings with the P/CEO would take place in late May and June 2022.

Action:  Clerk to progress to informal interview 

Board Vacancies and Succession Planning 

    1. The Board had accepted the Committee’s recommendations that the Term of the F&BO Committee Co-Opted member be extended to 31/03/2023, to support the ongoing work of the Estates Strategy Working Group.  The Board had also appointed J. Rowe to the Committee, to support the Board’s diversity strategy.
    2. The Clerk had worked with the college to secure nominees for the student governor vacancies that would occur after July 2022.  The Clerk had had meetings with several interested candidates and was expecting applications at any time.
    3. As directed by the Board, the Clerk had attended the Careers’ Evening held at English Bridge Campus on 30 March 2022; to highlight the role of the Board.  She had spoken to representatives of several companies who attended the event, and sent out application packs as a result.  To date, however, no completed applications have been returned.  The Committee directed the Clerk to attend the advice events, tasters and pre-enrolment evenings being held this Term, to promote the Board.
    4. The Clerk has also met with the Director of Marketing & Admissions, to discuss how to highlight Board membership opportunities at events, including directly emailing parents in a particular curriculum area.  The Director was supportive of the Board’s efforts to attract applicants and would obtain marketing materials to highlight the Board’s role.
    5. To further the Board’s Diversity Strategy, the Clerk had revised the Strategy to reflect the Committee’s priorities (S&G Min. No. 03/22 refers) and was now working to ensure the governor application process was open, free from bias and accessible.
    6. J. Barratt had accepted the opportunity to fill the Link Governor vacancy for Apprenticeships and C. Sharp, as Audit Committee Chair, had accepted the Link Governor for Audit & Risk vacancy.  Induction meetings with link officers had commenced.  Link Governors were diligent in meeting their links and undertaking assurance and engagement activities, which were then reported to the relevant committee.  Meetings and activities for this Term had already commenced or planned.

10/22. Board Quality Improvement Plan 2021 – 2022 – Progress (Appendix – Agenda Item 5)

The Committee reviewed progress against the current Board Quality Improvement Plan (previously circulated).

Whilst the majority of objectives had either been achieved or were on target to achieve by the target date, two actions were off-track and the Committee sought explanations for this.  

      • Governor Development Materials (see Min. No. 11/22 below);
      • Governors to visit an ‘Outstanding’ college – the Clerk had contacted the clerks of several outstanding colleges, including those with whom the college had entered into partnerships, but had yet to receive responses.  The Committee agreed that visiting an outstanding college would provide a good development and networking opportunity for governors and directed the Clerk to pursue the request with Newcastle & Stafford Colleges Group, in particular.

Action: Clerk to contact Clerk of N&SCG.

11/22.  Governor Development, Skills Audit and Learning Walk Programme (Appendix – Agenda Item 6)

The Committee considered the latest update (previously circulated) on – 

      • Learning Walks and Governor Social Programme 2021 – 2022 Activities;
      • Mandatory Modules - % of completion; and
      • Governor Development Plan 2021 – 2022 –progress.

Learning Walks and Governor Social Programme 2021 – 2022 – Summer Activities 

      • The first Learning Walk of the Summer Term had taken place in Modern Foreign Languages at the Welsh Bridge Campus on 16 May 2022.  The Board Chair reported that the event had been very successful, being well-attended by governors, staff and students.  He had particularly appreciated the opportunity to talk to students.
      • The Governor ‘Spring’ Social, to which all current governors and those who had recently left the Board, were invited, was held on Wednesday, 06 April 2022.  Again, as with the ‘Winter’ Social, it had provided an opportunity for governors to re-engage both with each other and the college.  
      • Governors would be invited to The Star Awards, hosted by the college’s Equality & Diversity Committee and held on Thursday, 30 June 2022.  The Clerk had also sent to all governors details of other celebratory and end of year events held at the college, including the Art and Fashion Show.  Governors would also be invited to attend the H.E. Graduation Ceremony this year.  

Mandatory Development Modules 
Governors and co-opted committee members were required to undertake several mandatory development modules to support both their understanding of their role and to appreciate the importance of issues crucial to the College.  The target was 100% of governors and co-opted committee members to undertake and evidence completion.  As expected by the Committee, all modules had now reached 100% compliance, reflecting that the recently appointed parent governor currently on Induction had completed the Modules.

The new version of Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSiE) would come into force in September 2022.  This followed a consultation on the proposed changes, which ended in March 2022.   Whilst governing bodies were required to ensure that all staff, governors and trustees received appropriate safeguarding and child protection (including online) training at induction, KCSIE specified it should:

      • Equip governors with the knowledge to provide strategic challenge so they were assured safeguarding policies/procedures were effective and deliver a robust whole-college approach to safeguarding; and
      • Be regularly updated.

In addition to the expectation that all governors and co-opted committee members completed a Declaration that they had received, read and understood the document, the Safeguarding Link Governor and Board had set an expectation that all governors and co-opted committee members evidence their participation in the whole-college safeguarding update that would be delivered by the Assistant Principal - Curriculum Support in September 2022.  

Governor Development Plan 2021 – 2022 – Progress & Impact 

Education & Training Foundation (ETF) Governance Development Programme (GDP) 2021 - 2022
As previously reported, the Clerk had purchased the GDP Programme for 2021 – 2022.  However, recently, the ETF had advised that the platform would be unavailable from the 31 March 2022  and that the GDP modules would be transferred to a new learning platform FutureLearn.  Until the transfer was competed, the GDP modules were unavailable.  The Clerk was seeking a refund for the subscription paid to the ETF.  

The Governors’ Handbook had been extensively re-designed to mirror the development path set out by the ETF Programme, so this work would have to be reviewed when the modules were available to ensure the links are working and the content matches.

However, the Sixth Form Colleges’ Association’s (SFCA) Webinar Programme was still available to all governors.  

12/22. Annual Governance Self-Assessment and External Review of Governance (Appendix – Agenda Item 7)

Further to S&G Min. No. 05/22, the Committee discussed the approach to self-assessment for 2021 -22.  

Prior to intervention, annual self-assessment had included – 

      • Committee evaluation;
      • Bi-annual individual self-assessment; and
      • Guided conversations between the Board Chair and governors.

The Committee agreed that the Board’s focus at this point should be on delivering the Strategic Development Plan and taking the opportunity to reflect on governance practices.  It therefore agreed that the annual committee evaluations provided useful information and assurance on the effectiveness of governance arrangements and should be undertaken this year.  

The Board Chair explained that he had been given an example of a self-assessment questionnaire which he wished to circulate.  He would discuss this with the Principal/CEO prior to circulation.

Action:  Clerk to include committee evaluation on committee agendas 

13/22. Draft Calendar of Meetings 2022 – 2023 (Appendix – Agenda Item 8)

The Committee reviewed the Draft Calendar of Meetings (previously circulated)   It had been drafted to ensure that the meetings coincided with the colleges’ financial and quality cycles, to ensure that the Board received timely and accurate information.

There were no major changes to the pattern of meetings regarding frequency held, dates, times and the Committee agreed with this approach.  It also agreed that, going forward, it be left to the committee chairs to decide if next year’s meetings should be held remotely or face to face.  The Board Chair indicated that he wished to see Board meeting held in person next year, if possible.  

Up to this year, the annual Strategic Development Event had been, to this year, held in January.  The Clerk and P/CEO had discussed the timing of this event for 2023 and the Committee agreed that the date of the event be held later in the year.

Action:  Clerk to include Draft Calendar on Board agenda

 14/22. Strategic Development Day – Evaluation Results (Appendix – Agenda Item 9)

The Committee reviewed the results of the evaluation of the Strategic Development Event held on 01 April 2022 (previously circulated).  The feedback would be used to inform the planning of the next event and the governor development programme going forward.

The Committee noted that the Evaluation had been issued without any preamble to frame the context of the feedback Therefore, some of the comments received represented operational issues, as opposed to governance.  

However, the Evaluation results indicated overwhelmingly positive evaluation of the event from all respondents; with little feedback regarding things that could be done to improve the next event.  The Committee agreed that the next Strategic Development event should include sessions/discussion on local employer requirements and how the college was meeting them, as this was a key issue and was covered in the Marches Skills Report and the Ofsted report, both of which had been shared with governors. 

15/22. Risk

It agreed that there had been sufficient discussion of the other risk issues at the meeting, particularly, the need to focus search activities going forward on maintaining a prominent level of finance skills on the Board.

The meeting concluded at 6.31 p.m.