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April 2022 - Parent & Carers Survey

Thanks to all parents and carers who recently completed our first governor survey. We’ve now reviewed of all your anonymous answers, and thought it would be useful to give a short update.

The purpose of the survey was to establish a simple way for parents and carers to share their views with governors. The format of the Google poll seemed to work well and your comments have been particularly useful. As a result, we have decided to repeat the process, so going forward during the first half of each term we’ll share a new set of questions, and during the second half term we’ll review and provide a summary for parents and carers via the school newsletter.

The theme of our first survey was Communications Between Parents and Carers, Governors and the School. Governors have set up a new working group, the Parent and Community Engagement Group (PCEG) to oversee the survey. This group has four governors and in line with all governor working groups meets every half term, and reports into the five full governor board (FGB) meetings held each academic year. Minutes of FGB meetings are published in the governor section of the website.

Regarding our first survey, we received 55 responses which have been collated and reviewed by the Parent and Community Engagement Group and by Mr Franceschi. From a governor perspective, we thought it would be useful to summarise a few actions that we’ve followed up on as a result of your feedback.

Firstly, there was some confusion about the role governors have. There is plenty of information available online (eg www.nga.org.uk) but in summary, while the headteacher is responsible for all operational aspects of the school, governors are responsible for appointing, and monitoring the headteacher at a strategic level. Governors are volunteers, and terms of office are 4 years. Downs Junior School currently has 11 governors (including two staff governors) with one application for a Local Authority Governor currently in progress.  This means we have two vacancies for co-opted governors. If you would like to find out more about joining the team, or would like to express your interest please see the governor section of the school website.

We also noted that some parents and carers were unclear how governors influence or interact with the school. At Downs Junior School, each governor is appointed to one or more working group and a list of the groups is available on the governors section of the website. Working groups typically meet every half term with a member of the senior staff. Governors are expected to be critical friends, providing challenge in order to evidence whether the school is meeting mutually agreed targets. An example of this is the School Improvement Plan (SIP) which outlines the school’s strategy for the next three years. This has recently been updated after consultation between governors and the senior leadership team, and can be accessed via the website.

Feedback regarding the school website was mostly very positive, which is reassuring as governors see first hand the considerable time and energy the school invests keeping it up to date and user friendly. Governors have recently made a few improvements to the governor section of the website, so now parents can see short biogs for the current team as well as details of the different working groups and their respective responsibilities.

Regarding communications with governors, we noted that many parents and carers would value being able to communicate directly with governors.  As a result we have introduced a new email address governors@downsjun.brighton-hove.sch.uk. This e-mail account is monitored by the clerk of governors, members of the PCEG and Mr Franceschi.  If parents or carers wish to contact the team at any time, they just need to navigate to the governor section of the website and use this email address. If parents and carers wish to communicate with governors regarding a confidential matter, they just need to send an email requesting a call back and a governor will get in touch.

With regards to comments in the survey that relate to operational matters, these have all been received and reviewed, and governors will continue to work alongside the senior leadership team to address these to the benefit of pupils, staff and the Downs Junior School community.  

 

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