School Needs To Use ‘Healthy’ Budget To Improve Standards Says Governor

school summer 1The Council’s recently appointed local authority governor says the Five Islands School should, “not sit there with a healthy budget and a poor Ofsted score.”

Phil Rowe was speaking at the recent Children’s Committee meeting, where members discussed how standards were being improved for certain age groups at the school.

The Council’s senior officer for children, Keith Grossett, said outcomes were ‘outstanding’ at KS4, the point at which children take their GCSE’s, but were ‘poor’ at KS2.

Mr Grossett said the school had “a fairly tight timeline” to improve this situation, with Ofsted inspectors due “within the next couple of terms.”

The Council has employed a retired school inspector to analyse teaching and learning at KS2 and to develop an action plan with senior leaders.

And Keith said the school was “getting to grips” with their data, so they could recognise pupils who aren’t making the expected progress.

Mr Rowe said he made “no apology” for currently “interfering a lot in the school.”

He said the school needs to “ruthlessly prioritise its improvement work,” but added that he hadn’t “been absolutely reassured on that front.”

And he said governors had made it very clear to the head teacher, Linda Todd, that her focus is on improving standards and she, “should not be diverted in her attentions towards the status of the school.”

A switch to academy status was one of the recommendations made in 2013 by the then Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, following an investigation into governance issues at the Five Islands School.

But Mr Rowe also cautioned that teacher morale was important and applauded the school for their excellent KS4 results, which were in the top percentile nationally.

The Council’s senior community services officer Aisling Hick echoed that, saying members needed “a sense of perspective” and shouldn’t get “too dramatic” over the results.

Aisling questioned whether any other school would have had the same level of scrutiny from their local authority.

Mr Rowe said the school was currently underspent on its budget and that they had a clear decision to make.

“They could find themselves with a very healthy budget and a low Ofsted score at the next visit, or they could use some of the funding to actually make sure that this school is good, or indeed outstanding,” he told members.

DfE data shows that the total spend per pupil at the Five Islands School last year was £9,761, against a national average of £5,944.

“This school needs to improve and they should use every strategy, including finance, to make that happen,” said Mr Rowe.

12 Responses to School Needs To Use ‘Healthy’ Budget To Improve Standards Says Governor

  1. parent February 23, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Yoga are you kidding. I had to take a day off work and these jokers book a yoga class? This school is failing is pupils, Headteacher please explain.

  2. Concerned Parent February 22, 2016 at 10:41 am

    Like a previous comment below, I am very concerned about the Primary experience my child has had to endure at the Five Islands School.
    I have been told that at a recent committee meeting, the reason given for the poor KS2 results this year was because of a couple of children having special educational needs. That excuse is appalling. How do they think these children and their parents feel about that? They might as well have ‘named & shamed’. How dare they. They should have taken the criticism on the chin and produced a plan to improve the results, not shifted the blame on to those who cannot defend themselves.
    These results have fallen for the past three years. Yet two of the leaders at the school are supposedly Primary specialists. Add to that the lead school improvement partner -Primary specialist and the Church of England education person -another Primary specialist. That’s four very highly paid professionals fighting what looks like from the outside, a losing battle.
    Hopefully the new Governor, Mr Rowe, will use his expertise to sort out the shortcomings and return the school to where it should be. Perhaps Mr Rowe will also insist that the minutes of the Governing body are put back on to the school website. As a parent, I am concerned that the deafening silence regarding Academy status is for a reason not conducive to transparency and to the future of my child’s education. If a body looking to take over the school cannot get it right now, what hope is there for a future Academy run by the same people?
    This school needs to be linked to a top performing Academy on the mainland.

    • Former governor February 22, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      Completely agree with all of the above, it seems that there is such a lot of talk and so called ‘expert’ input and not so much action when it comes to improving the school experience for our children. I wish Mr Rowe lots of luck in his role, he’ll certainly need it if he starts to ask what are considered by others to be awkward questions.
      Maybe he could find out how much value the yoga session delivered to the Five Islands School Staff on today’s inset day gives to the education of our children? Was that paid for out of our school budget?

  3. Adrian Davis February 19, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Well said Jenny –thank you for your valuable contribution —( and your articulation is to be admired)

  4. Jenny February 18, 2016 at 11:40 am

    I do not possess the ability to articulate as well as most of the contributors to this site. This said, my point remains valid, with no criticism intended at the school or care home. This week there have been three important meetings regarding the most vulnerable in our society. The young and the very elderly.
    On the one hand we have a brand new ten million pound educational establishment where it costs twice the national average per child to educate the pupils, Monday to Fridays, up to eight hours a day, thirty nine weeks a year, which also funds lunches for the youngest attendees. The school is having some difficulties which they will be supported to address.
    On the other hand we have a care home for the most vulnerable in our society who spend twenty fours of each day, seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year living in a building which pre-dates both the new school build and Five islands School.
    The Community Services Committee were informed the building was not fit for purpose, unsafe and too expensive to run. The care costs for people living there are twice the national average per person compared to care homes on the mainland.
    In spite of it being alleged that the building was unfit for purpose and unsafe, an independent inspection of the home showed the staff provide a high standard of care twenty fours hours a day, seven days a week.
    To address this difficulties at the care home a very different approach was proposed to that of the approach to the school- If I recall the proposals were to raise the costs by 75%, send those people with the greatest infirmities to a care home on the mainland and look at the option to close it.
    I questioned the very different approach offered up by senior council officers to address the difficulties of the vulnerable in our society, just because they are at different spectrum’s of the age line. Both services are paid for by taxation.

  5. Adrian Davis February 18, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Simple Jenny!
    Though your figures are approximate you make a valid point that I have also wanted to highlight.
    Education in Scilly is subsidised by a ring fenced grant–central Government accepted our unique situation and financial need,years ago, and i suspect was a decision welcomed by all.

    However older folk (and the mentally challenged and vulnerable ) are less valued in our society, a fact very recently emphasised by David Cameron.. This came over to me at the recent Community Committee meeting where Gordon’s attempt to safeguard as a ‘given’ the provision of residential care in our Community went unsupported.

    We have the fabric of a fine new school, much has been spent on a third ‘make-over ‘ at the airport and much spent elsewhere with dubious benefit to many of us BUT (with luck!) we all grow old and will outlast those at present making these decisions. and have moved on.
    Perhaps the time has come to think more strategically and make it quite clear that the provision of a RESIDENTIAL HOME IS ESSENTIAL in our caring community.

  6. Stryder February 18, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Looking at a few of these comments here:
    Mr Grossett said the school had “a fairly tight timeline” to improve this situation, with Ofsted inspectors due “within the next couple of terms.”
    – KS2 has had a “requires improvement” notice since Ofsteds October 2014 visit. Why have the school not been sorting this out before now?
    …governors had made it very clear to the head teacher, Linda Todd, that her focus is on improving standards and she, “should not be diverted in her attentions towards the status of the school.”
    -Implies the head has been too busy with other matters to do something about poor KS2 results.
    “They could find themselves with a very healthy budget and a low Ofsted score at the next visit, or they could use some of the funding to actually make sure that this school is good, or indeed outstanding,”.
    -Implies nobody knows what to do or has the guts to make decisions and spend the money that will improve the poor KS2 situation.

    My child is heading towards the end of KS2 and has had the “requires improvement” notice hanging over them for almost their whole time at school. Add to that the bullying problems (which myself and my partner had to sort out in the end as the school, who knew about it, did not deal with it), mixed up and split year classes, several different teachers in one year, teachers lying to us and favouritism shown towards some pupils, the KS2 experience has not been a good one.

    There are some really decent and professional teachers in the school but my whole experience with the school so far leaves me with feelings of regret of what has happened and can’t be changed and in dread of what may come.

  7. Pauline Jackson February 17, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    Oh dear!! I am sorry to see a recently appointed local authority governor sees his role as “interfering quite a lot” in the school. As an experienced teacher and a governor I would expect the emphasis to be to find as much information as possible about the strengths and weaknesses of the school and any difficulties it is facing. Only then can a new governor work together with existing members of the governing body and the senior managers to look for ways forward.

  8. Pensioner February 17, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Jenny why aren,t you on the Council and asking your pertinent questions ? most of our Councillors and Officers seem to be more interested in fine words to impress but no practical ideas for solving any funding or staffing problems !

  9. Jenny February 17, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Why is it acceptable to pay near twice the national average per child for their education in Scilly and it is not fully meeting educational standards. But it unacceptable for the cost of care for elderly residents in a care home to also be nearly twice the national average when their care home is inspected by the Care Quality Commission and is good in all categories. Both have been independently inspected, one is failing and one is not, both cost twice the national average per person or child. Both are funded by local and national tax, unless of course you have over £20,000 then you pay for your care. One is supported to ensure better outcomes for the children, the other is threatened with closure and a massive hike in costs. Discrimination or not.

    • i really wish people would actually read the article properly sometimes February 18, 2016 at 9:58 am

      The school is ‘in the top percentile nationally’ for KS4. In terms of what matters when you leave school, its KS4, no college, uni or employer is going to look at how somebody did in their SATs, its all about GCSEs and nothing more.

      The school is not failing, its actually in the top 1% nationally where it counts

      • Sue M February 18, 2016 at 10:47 am

        Actually that’s not quite correct. Each year group of children is a cohort. Last year’s KS4 group, who did so well, finished their KS2 stage 4 or 5 years ago. We have to look at how the current KS2 group will do when they come to take their GCSE’s to really understand the situation, because a child that falls behind at any stage can find it very difficult to make up the lost ground without significant time and effort.