Beverley Dolman The Real Life Learning Academy Trust [318] 19 January 2021
Board of Directors   Minutes   08/06/2020
Virtual meeting  Monday, June 8, 2020  17.00Chair: David Shaw   Clerk: Su Turner   
FINAL: The minutes are confirmed and locked.
Use the link to MS Teams in the Governor Links section to access the meeting (drop down under Governors)
Governors Attending: >Jo Edwards, Fiona Sloyan, Anna Pike, Lynn Dove, David Shaw, Elizabeth Ford, Richard Lewis, Beverley Dolman, Yvonne Wood, Louise McDonough 
Governors Apologies: >
Non Governors Attending: >Su Turner
Non Governors Apologies: >
Agenda Item 1  Welcome and Apologies

All Directors were in attendance, and there were no additional Declarations of Interest for the meeting.

Agenda Item 2  Minutes of the last meeting
The minutes of the meeting on the 30th March were approved as an accurate record.
Agenda Item 3  Matters arising
MINUTE Two policies were identified last meeting as needing to be checked by Directors.  JE confirmed that she had reviewed hers with a member of staff, DS will pick the policy that he was reviewing.


Action: Reflect Speech and Language in the Trust on a page priorities

Update - this had been actioned


Action: Email comments on the structure of trust on a page to DS 

Update: DS confirmed that no comments had been received


Action: Staff be asked to update the SEF for each school

Update: Directors agreed that this will be picked up in September


Action: Defer Trust Strategic Plan to May 

Update: This will be deferred to September


Action: Provide update to Directors on the feedback from marketing strategy in May

Update: LD reported that she had started the work on this, but had not yet convened a working group - will report back in September.

ACTION  Defer items to September
Agenda Item 4  Risk Assessment

 Risk Assessments on the safe reopening of the schools had been prepared by BD and the SLT.  LF and FS confirmed that they had reviewed them, had questioned elements of the documents, and that following this they had been refined.  The confirmed that the documents are very fluid, as the guidance continues to change, and that they will be reviewed by SLT on a weekly basis.


LF and FS recommendation was that the Board should accept the RA and that they are fluid in their nature.


Q: Have you got all of the equipment that you need?

R: Nearly all of the equipment is here now except for 2 bins.


At an extraordinary meeting in May, Directors approved in principle, following the scrutiny by Directors in the working group, Directors were happy to approve the documents and the operational plans, recognising that they are fluid.


BD, explained that there had already been 8 updates and questions that they were working through.  Such as what happens if a child arrives late, removing dirty dishes, staff needing to arrive before parents etc.


She confirmed that she will need to do an additional Risk Assessment for the Office and breakfast, after school club.  In addition there will be individual Risk Assessment needed for vulnerable staff that are returning to school, and for vulnerable pupils.


Action: BD to send updated Risk Assessment to the Director Working Group, highlighting what has changed.


BD reported that following the media reports that the R rate for the NW had increased above 1, she advised that Cheshire East were due to update their position on Wednesday.  The R Rate for Cheshire East was lower than the NW, and so they were taking Public Health Advice.  The R Rate isn’t one of the 5 tests, and there are 3 versions of the R Rate from different medical research bodies.


Some areas have agreed to delay the reopening, however need to wait and see wehat CE recommend. DS reiterated the need to follow the guidance.


Q: if the R rate is still high - do we have any members of staff that are borderline vulnerable?

R: Yes and this is why we are undertaking individual risk assessments, and note union/HR advice


Q: If a member of staff decides not to come in, which order would we be closing pods?

R: BD confimred that she is working on this criteria, and will be creating a policy for the closing of Pods.


BD also reported that planning for provision is difficult even for key worker children, as parents change their mind about needing provision


BD explained that the Risk Assessment highlights the policies and addendums that are needed, such as a blended and remote working, behaviour, first aid and exclusion policies all need addendums for COVID


Q: When we introduce, key workers have picked their days,. but are all other children in fulltime?

R: Yes


BD explained the she has received letters of complaint about how the schools has operated, and that teachers appear not to be teaching.  DS confirmed that he had also received a letter, and will be replying.


These are exceptional difficulties and that there needs to be a balance between staff wellbeing and online learning.  A Blended policy will address this, and state what we can reasonably do.


Q: What was the complaint?

R: The letter was asking what the HTs and staff were doing.


ACTION  BD to send updated Risk Assessment to the Director Working Group, highlighting what has changed.
DECISION  Directors approved the recommendation by the Risk Assessment working party to approve the Risk Assessments for the reopening of school
CHALLENGE  Challenge is reflected within the minute
Agenda Item 5  Finance forecast all schools April 2020

DS suggested that a special meeting of the Finance committee be convened to review the budget, and that it reports back to the July meeting.


It was also agreed to source training for the new Business Manager to support her development and induct into the role.  YW confirmed that she had carried out some training today on monthly postings.  Term 2 accounts, however they need reviewing by the finance committee.

ACTION  Hold a Finance Committee to review the finances, and source training for SBM.
Defer finance item until July
Agenda Item 6  Pupil Numbers
MINUTE  BD confirmed that all applications had now been confirmed, and they were:


10 pupils for Calveley (replacing 10 year 6 leavers)

27 pupils for Acton, the school had offered 25, but 2 were also added who have siblings in school (This replaces 28 year 6 leavers)


This will be built into the budget.

Agenda Item 7  Nursery
MINUTE Directors had asked AP to investigate the potential of opening a nursery, the options and the costs associated with it.  AP had prepared several documents, in her research to look at the viability of providing nursery provision.  She confirmed that she had liaised with CE and clarified the demographics.  She had found that some providers are struggling already (due to COVID).  She understands that CE will now more in 6 months time.


She reported that she had tried to get a sense of costs, looking at a new build Vs mobile units.  There is very little more that can be done until the Board requests more work and the design phase is undertaken.  She explained that she felt that the work as at the stage that the Board need to agree the strategic direction, including timescales.


She had viewed profit and loss accounts for other provision.  She had reviewed options for staffing, required pupil numbers and associated costs.


The possibility of opening for September, is limited as despite staffing numbers working well, the issue is with the toilets, and their unsuitability for 2 year olds.


On a positive note, GIAS now says that the school provides schooling for 3-11 year olds.  This means that if the decision to move to go to age 2, this would be a fast track application.


AP had created a staffing and income tool, to enable scenarios to be created.  It doesn’t take account of all costs, but it does the main staffing costs.  Staffing costs are high due to the 31.3% on costs due to pensions etc.  The is the opportunity to explore running the nursery as a separate organisation.


There are risks that need to be considered, and Directors need to review their appetite for risk


AP asked that Directors provide direction and a brief for further work.  This could be that the work is done in phases, as there are little things that they can be done to move forward initially.


Q: Instead of building onsite, is there a way of creating a collaboration with another nursery?

R: BD explained that much work had been done to build relationships with providers, however the issue is that the nurseries actually sit in the catchment for other schools.


DS reminded Directors of the principles that kick started this investigations.  These included the need to increase numbers and improve finances.  Need to get several aspects right, so that they move to the Trusts primary provision.


Directors concluded that from looking at the documents it looks like it could be viable. However, the look of the front of the building is a restriction, and any work agreed needs to address this are first.  This is also mentioned in the Calveley parental feedback  


Q: How much market research do we need to do to prove that we will get children in to use the nursery? Who carries the loss if there is not the need?

Q: Is there a low risk entry point, by improving the physical appearance, and mounting a campaign to boost numbrs?


R: It will be difficult to understand demand until at least December, due to COVID.  BD and AP will have a further conversations with early years at Cheshire East to understand gaps in provision and the market.


LMC explained that in her experience, introducing provision for 2 year olds, does not make a profit, however having a 2 year old provision is a hook.  There is a danger that if you don’t have it, pupils will go elsewhere and not transfer when they are 3.


Outcome: Directors agreed that they would like a more detailed study on the viability, and agreed that LMC, LD AP and YW would form a working party to progress.  They were asked to explore 3 elements:

  • Improving curb appeal
  • Provision of toilets for 2 years old
  • Improvement to the site
DECISION  Outcome: Directors agreed that they would like a more detailed study on the viability, and agreed that LMC, LD AP and YW would form a working party to progress. They were asked to explore 3 elements:
Improving curb appeal
Provision of toilets for 2 years old
Improvement to the site
CHALLENGE  Challenge is reflected within the minute
Agenda Item 8  Policies
MINUTE DS had created a document and assigned Directors as policy leads.  He will circulate.  He reminded that the process was that SLT would work through non-statutory policies and then a Director would rue responsible for overseeing assurance.


Equality Information and Objectives policy  - This policy was approved  however they needed to identify a Link Director for it.  LD was asked to take on this role.  She confirmed and will re-read the policy.

DECISION  Equality information and objectives policy was approved and LD agreed to take on this role
Agenda Item 9  Trust Governor and website
MINUTE  This was an information only item to confirm that once policies are updated on GovernorHub, they automatically update on the school’s website.
Agenda Item 10  AOB
MINUTE  There were no items of AOB
Agenda Item 11  Date of next meeting
MINUTE  Date of next meeting is 20th July 2020 at 18.15
   Governor Agreed Actions set during this meeting:  0
RLLAT Boardof Directors Meeting Pt1   dated:  08/06/2020
 Minutes approved by David Shaw