CHAIR’S CHAT (December 2019)

It’s been a busy term with so many highlights and achievements. Here are a few issues that have been on the Governors’ agenda this term.

  • Investment in Naburn School – following feedback during the summer term we have had conversations with Derek Sutherland, Head of Primary School Improvement for CYC, who has successfully gained funding approval for some additional support for Naburn School. We had already paired up with Fishergate Primary School as part of a peer review scheme and we are able to benefit from further involvement and support to develop our curriculum, provide subject specialist input for our teachers and look at the quality of our classroom teaching. This is also providing welcome advice and a sounding board for the Headteacher in her leadership role.


  • Governor involvement – one important part of the role is to visit the school and to have sufficient knowledge of what is going on. We have allocated specific subjects and areas of responsibility to each Governor and have a programme to spread visits through the school year. This will help us to have a better overview of the school and a more systematic record of visits. For details of which Governor is allocated to which area, please contact the school office.


  • Parent consultation – over the past year we have tried a variety of formats, from smaller drop-in sessions to questionnaire and then a structured consultation evening in the summer term. This year we are aiming to be more accessible as Governors by being available for an informal chat during parents’ evenings or parent events as these occur through the year. We will also send out our parent questionnaire again before Easter and have another consultation opportunity in the summer


  • School Develop Plan priorities – despite being a small school, we offer a full range of subjects and opportunities for our pupils, with many additional clubs and activities. This is quite a challenge in a small school as the few teachers have to cover a greater number of subjects and areas. Ofsted has re-stated its focus which is on curriculum development, ensuring all subjects are taught well and to appropriate depth. We continue to work with other primary schools in the South York Cluster to share best practice and develop the quality of our teaching.


  • Marketing – We have also been focused on promoting the school with a newly formed marketing group giving some much-appreciated advice and support in this area. We have had some notable successes in this area, including mentions in the press. Our school roll is higher than was forecast but we still have capacity, particularly in the Early Years and Year 1 classes. Like all primary schools in York we have been impacted by a demographic fall in the number of younger children starting school, but we continue to welcome enquiries for all year groups and it has been gratifying to see places taken up throughout the year. Parents’ support for the school and positive views in conversation with others is so important in helping to promote our school, so thank you for all that you do.


  • Academisation – This became optional last year, so Governors revisited the decision back in the Spring and confirmed that we still want to join the South York Multi-Academy Trust (SYMAT). We have been delayed in part by City of York Council’s other priorities and limited resources, but more importantly by our financial position which shows a deficit in the next two years. Due to the time that has passed since our Academisation order was approved, we have recently had to return the grant (to cover the costs of the academisation process) to the DfE. We will come back to this issue in the summer term 2020.


  • Financial position – as many parents are aware, our school funding has reduced in real terms over the past few years and we have been operating at a deficit which has been met from our reserves. There is still uncertainty about our future funding and we are wary of political promises as our experience is that the detail does not work out in our favour. York is at the lower end of per pupil funding in the UK and small schools such as ours continue to battle for a decent share of funding. We have valued the support of parents, the generous donations from the Friends of Naburn School and donations from individual parents through the Direct Debit scheme we launched earlier this year. As we approach a new financial year from April 2020 we shall undoubtedly face further challenges and are working hard to ensure the school remains a thriving and outstanding place for our children and remains at the heart of our village life.


Nick Lee

December 2019