Beverley Dolman The Real Life Learning Academy Trust [318] 19 January 2021
Board of Directors   Minutes   12/02/2020
Acton Primary School  Wednesday, February 12, 2020  16:00Chair: David Shaw   Clerk: Su Turner   
FINAL: The minutes are confirmed and locked.
Please note the change of date and time for this meeting
Governors Attending: >Yvonne Wood, Jo Edwards, Elizabeth Ford, Beverley Dolman, Lynn Dove, Fiona Sloyan, David Shaw, Richard Lewis, Anna Pike 
Governors Apologies: >
Non Governors Attending: >
Non Governors Apologies: >
Agenda Item 1  Welcome and Apologies

No apologies had been received, however Louise McDonagh was not in attendance, DS will contact her.


Anna Pike was welcomed to the meeting

ACTION  DS to contact LMc
Agenda Item 2  Declarations of interest

LF declared an interest in any item that discussed Bridgemere School as she was a governor.

Agenda Item 3  Minutes of the previous meeting

The minutes had been approved electronically, and no further comments were made

Agenda Item 4  Trust Governance

Trust Governor

DS gave a further update on the development on Trust Governor and its use.  Directors felt that the new system was working well and was comprehensive.


DS ran through the agenda structure and the attached documents.  The new style 'Academy on a Page' HOS reports gave a comprehensive overview of the school, so that the Board can get a full picture.  Can easily see areas to celebrate and next steps.


Directors discussed that some of the permissions were still being worked through - but all Directors should have access to the Academy pages.  


DS explained that the 'Trust on a Page' document is in progress and a draft should be ready for the March meeting.


Chairs actions


DS reported that there had not been any actions to report


Reports from Academy Committees


Reports had been sent through and there were no issues to escalate to the trust, apart from positive comments received from the committees.

Cover for Executive Head


Directors discussed the cover arrangements for BD as she was seconded for the next half term to Ofsted.  Anna (in attendance) will spend 1.5 days picking up the strategic role to keep things ticking over until BD returns. SLT will continue as usual.

DS will write to parents to tell them of the news and the arrangement.

ACTION  Action: Directors to review their access and contact the chair / clerk if there are issues
Action: Clerk to liaise with Trust Governor to secure training for all directors and AC’s
Action: DS to write to parents to communicate the temporary arrangements
Action: Anna Pike to develop the 'Trust on the page' and populate ready for the March meeting
Agenda Item 5  Trust Monitoring

FS presented the paper that was on Trust Governor.  She summarised the proposal that the original Directors Days will be kept but these will be refined and carried out by the AC’s


Directors were happy with the proposal. Thought needs to be given to how Directors record their visits, but these can be reported at meetings and recorded in the minutes. FS will review the visits form and make it simpler/quicker to use.


As a MAT it is important for all Directors to know the schools, the new HOS reports and work of the AC’s will support this insight.  Directors discussed how Ofsted inspected schools and MATs and explored their insight.  BD also highlighted the move to financial direction inspections from September 2020.


Directors need to be assured that the AC’s are monitoring the work in schools and providing the challenge to improve.  DS explained that he was keen to support and improve the effectiveness of the AC’s and proposed to Directors that they commission Shaping Governance® sessions for each of the schools and also the Trust.  The clerk was asked the leave the room whilst this item was discussed.


Outcome: Directors discussed the proposal and agreed to use Shaping Governance to support improvement within the trust and the AC’s

ACTION  Action: To complete the actions outlined in the Trust monitoring proposal, including FS making the visits from simpler/quicker to use.
DECISION  Outcome: Directors were happy with the proposal for new Academy Days to be held
Outcome: Directors discussed the proposal and agreed to use Shaping Governance to support improvement within the trust and the AC’s
Agenda Item 6  Finance

YW ran through the finance reports.  She explained that whilst some areas look overspent, it is important to understand that curriculum resources are front loaded, whereas the reports are divided by 12 and flatlined.  This will be reviewed in future years so that a more accurate picture is provided.


She reported that Calveley is currently showing a deficit of £6834, and Acton a surplus of £765.


A discussion took place and it was noted that the differences are due to the top line GAG funding.  Pupil numbers are low and therefore funding is reduced.  Funding is also lower as BDs NLE incomes lower due to less time at Bridgemere.  However, there will be a contribution from Ofsted for the secondment period, and funding is due in from SIP work.


Q: Is there a minimum number of pupils to ensure a school remains viable?

R: There are schools that are smaller.


YW highlighted that one of the bonds expired in December, and sought permission to transfer in to a new bond.  


Outcome: Directors agreed to invest in a one year bond.


Quotes for the mini bus had not been received, and will be postponed to the March Meeting.  


Nursery development: This will be moved to the March meeting to enable more research and also the chair of the AC’s to be involved.


BD reported that the school is seeking to purchase 7 clever touch screens, and are asking FOAS to match fund but no update at this point.  DFC funding will be used for this.DS explained that if the purchase was within BD's financial limit they didn't need to be tabled with the Directors, BD can approve following the scheme of delegation.


Auditors - YW declared that she may have a conflict 

Q: Have the Auditors been contacted and engaged?

R: BD will check


GAG pooling


A discussion took place on GAG pooling and Directors reviewed the Pros and Cons.  Directors concluded that this is something that they were not supportive of, and that the cons outweighed the pros

Outcome: Directors agreed that they did not want to consider GAG pooling

Pupil numbers

Pupil numbers were still a concern, despite the marketing that has been done.  Numbers for Acton are not a concern, as the new estate is filling spaces.  However Calveley numbers are low.  


Q: When do we get to know the CWAC pupils.

R: This is later and we don't get to find out until April.


Action: An update will be brought to the March meeting

indicative budget forecasts 


BD informed the board that the Schools Forum had reported to the cabinet, and that a member of school staff had attended.


A discussion took place on school funding levels and who sets a minimum figure and what is needed for a school to be viable.  The school is proactively seeking to establish a nursery, to boost funding and pupil numbers coming through.  The school is also looking into the possibility of providing a bus service.  


Q: Can we involve the parents in this research to ask if there is need?

R: Parent and student surveys are going out, and the Academy Committees will also be involved.


Outcome: The board asked BD to continue her research and bring a proposal to the March Board meeting

ACTION  Action: Anna Pike to lead the development of the Nursery provision proposal with YW and VMc and to be added to the march meeting.
Action: An update on Pupil numbers will be brought to the March meeting
DECISION  Outcome: Directors agreed to invest in a one year bond.
Outcome: Directors agreed that they did not want to consider GAG pooling
CHALLENGE  Challenge is reflected in the minute
Agenda Item 7  Current and Forecast Pupil Numbers
MINUTE  This item was discussed within the Finance item and is recorded there
Agenda Item 8  Policies

The Pay Policy was not able to be approved due to ongoing work with it.


SEN policy: DS reported that one comment had been sent in advance.  All others were happy with the policy

DS had taken on the roll of SEND Director.


Outcome: The SEN Policy was approved


Accessibility Policy: Again comments had been sent in advance and changes had been made. It was noted that the policy needed to be reviewed annually, but the accessibility plan that runs with it is for a period of 3 years.  BD intends to review both and bring back to the board in September.


Outcome: The Accessibility Policy was approved.


A discussion took place on policy review and approval and who in the trust reviews.

BD had a list of statutory policies which need to be presented to the board. There is also a list of school specific policies.


An agreement was reached that on policies that are reviewed annually with limited changes, then these be assigned to a Director to reviewing and recommending to the board. New Policies would be reviewed by the whole board.


Action: BD to redo the list of policies, including the Directors leading the review, and load them to Trust Governor

ACTION  Action: BD to redo the list of policies, including the Directors leading the review, and load them to Trust Governor
DECISION  Outcome: The SEN Policy was approved
Outcome: The Accessibility Policy was approved
Agenda Item 9  Curriculum Implementation

BD brought curriculum folders in which described the layered curriculum that the Trust has adopted.  

The trust has rewritten the curriculum for every subject - starting at early years.  There is a file for every subject, and a set of files in every school.  The folders include:

  • Intent
  • Implementation - how is it delivered
  • Impact statement - how it will be tracked and monitored
  • Progression document areas of focus and the age specific requirements 
  • Cover sheet what is being covered, and when across the year
  • A planning sheet 


Q: How different is this to the national curriculum?

R: Our curriculum is bespoke to this school, the National Curriculum is quite woolly, the work we have done unpacks this further. Our work has identified training needs, which are being met by CPD.


The curriculum has 3 tiers:

  • Academic Curriculum
  • Hidden Curriculum - including residentials,  healthy schools work, visits etc
  • Real Life Curriculum which shows how the academic tier focuses on real life skills

There are outcomes and milestones by the end of the year - that children should be expected to achieve.  The curriculum has been 2 years in the making and has been fined tuned.  There is great feedback from staff and pupils.

Q: How well implemented is the curriculum across the academies?
R: The curriculum has been shared and is being implemented in each academy. Delivery is becoming more consistent as staff training is being provided to enhance the quality of delivery and up skill staff. Cross academy work scrutiny is challenging all staff and leaders to deliver high quality work using the best standards available in the academy.


Directors felt that this was a really good piece of work and approach that the DfE may be interested in for other schools.


DS on behalf of the board gave a massive thanks to all and subject leaders for their hard work.


ACTION  Directors were impressed with the work and passed on their thanks to staff.
BD to update Directors on the impact of staff training at the May or July meeting.
CHALLENGE  Challenge is reflected in the minute
Agenda Item 10  Safeguarding

LF gave an update on safeguarding.  She had viewed the new CPOMS system which has improved the insight that the school has such as spotting trends in attendance and early help


Safeguarding representatives have been identified at AC level.  DS flagged the need to be mindful about confidentiality.

Agenda Item 11  Parent Council

The meeting had not taken place with LMc but had been discussed at SLT.

  • Calveley had challenges getting parents to meetings usually 4 in attendance
  • Acton is well attended (16).

BD felt that there were a few options to move forward:

  • The school sets them up and drives the agenda
  • We stop the forums, and replace with half-termly 10 questions to all parents
  • Or establish a working party to work on different ideas

BD felt it was helpful to have a Director there to answer questions


Q: Who would chair the meetings?

R: This could be a Director, or an AC rep that is not a parent.


Q: Could we suggest that the AC Chairs, Chair another school's Parent Council - this would bring independence?

R: Yes that could work.


Q: How as Directors do we get to hear the moans and get to understand them.

R: There are usually minutes of the meetings, and if any escalated in to complaints then these would be reported.

BD will give it more consideration, and recommend the one of the options in the March meeting. This may need to be shared by Anna Pike instead.

ACTION  Recommendation to be shared by BD/AP at the March meeting
CHALLENGE  Challenge is reflected in the Minute
Agenda Item 12  AOB

Statutory Trials of SATs


BD reported that Acton had been chosen to undertake these - the school does not have a choice. 


   Governor Agreed Actions set during this meeting:  5
Directors to review their access and contact the chair / clerk if there are issues
For: next meeting
David Shaw
Clerk to liaise with Trust Governor to secure training for all directors and AC’s
Su Turner
DS to write to parents to communicate the temporary arrangements
David Shaw
Nursery provision, Parent Council and Pupil Numbers to be added to the march meeting
Su Turner
BD to redo the list of policies, and load them to Trust Governor
Beverley Dolman
RLLAT FBD February 2020 Part 1   dated:  12/02/2020
 Minutes approved by David Shaw