Annual Governance Statement 2016-17

This annual governance statement gives a brief overview of the activities of the governing body over the last year. It is intentionally brief, as we always aim to report significant activities as they happen throughout the year via the school newsletter and governor section of the school website. Therefore it probably contains little that you haven’t already heard, just a summary of the year’s highlights.

The report is organised around the three primary objectives of the governing body – setting the strategic direction of the school, holding the school to account, and ensuring the financial well-being of the school.

Strategic Direction

In May, the school completed the process of conversion to an academy, and joined the River Learning Trust. This was the culmination of about two years’ work which had aimed to secure the best possible educational outcomes for pupils while protecting the long-term viability of the school.

The benefits of joining RLT are already being seen, with greater exchange of data and expertise between schools in the trust. RLT is still a relatively new multi-academy trust, and each school retains its own identity. Over the next year or two, governors will pay particular attention to where it makes sense to standardise on systems and processes shared across the trust, and where the school should remain a little more independent.

In recent weeks, there has been some media coverage of statements from the new head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, that the curriculum in many schools had become too narrow and too focused on league tables. Staff and governors alike share some of these concerns, and plans had already been put in place to revitalise the curriculum during the coming year. A new National Curriculum was introduced in 2014, and the experience gained from teaching this for three years has given staff insight into where we can deliver the national requirements in a more engaging way. Therefore, the majority of the 2017-18 School Development Plan concerns this curriculum update.

Holding the school to account

Throughout the year, it became increasingly clear how challenging most schools in the country had found the new KS2 SATs first taken in May 2016. Insufficient details of expectations and inconsistencies in moderation made it very difficult for staff and pupils to prepare, and Horspath was by no means alone in recording somewhat erratic results.

The governors were therefore delighted with the way staff learnt from this, and helped the pupils achieve an excellent set of results in May 2017. Not only was the school above the national average in almost every measure, progress in Maths has been classified as being in the top 10% in the country. Several pupils achieved extremely high scores in Maths and/or English, including some maximum 120 scores.

While KS2 SATs generate the most headlines, governors remain engaged in monitoring the progress and achievement of all year groups, from Acorn Class to Willow. We also pay particular attention to closing the gap between pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and all other pupils.

From September 2017 we have switched to the RLT link governor model which assigns individual governors responsibilities for safeguarding to data monitoring, from finance to special education needs.

Financial Well-Being of the School

School funding has rarely been out of the news in the last year, and the proposed “fairer funding formula” proved to be something of a misnomer for many Oxfordshire schools. The final published formula did change a small budget reduction for Horspath into a small budget increase, but this was very much the minimum 1% figure the Secretary of State had announced. Funding will continue to be a significant issue for all state schools, and sound financial management will remain a priority.


Over the last year, we have said goodbye to four members of the governing body, Rebecca Brown, Janet Crooks, Gillian Nightall and Chris Rodgers. We thank them all for their service and the wide array of skills and perspectives they have brought to the governing body.

In September 2017 we welcomed James Askew and Laura McAllister to the governing body as new parent governors. Both have children in Acorn class, so very much have a vested interest in the ongoing success of the school.

Summary of School Development Plan 2016-17

Objective Outcome
To improve the standard of writing. Year 6 SATs writing results in 2017 were a significant improvement from 2016, including the number of pupils at Greater Depth at the end of Year 6.

There were several successful strategies adopted during the year including: emphasis on self-editing, improvement time during the morning, Clicker 7 and the introduction of spelling journals.

There is more to do next year: planning literacy around engaging texts linked to topic work, ensuring that feedback/marking is consistently focused on next steps and developing the pupil’s understanding of the learning journey.

To develop pupils’ ability to apply their maths skills to problem solving and logical thinking challenges. There was a significant increase in the number of pupils across the school who are working above their age expected levels in maths and fewer pupils working below. The progress of pupils in maths is significantly above the majority of schools nationally.

There were several successful strategies adopted during the year including: problem solving workshops, introduction of green next step challenges in upper KS2, model lessons to support staff on how to include problem solving and mastery into lessons, differentiation to support/challenge all children.

There is more to do next year: introduction of learning journeys in maths through the use of the White Rose Hub medium term planning structure; emphasis on showing method/thinking using different representations; feedback & marking consistently focusing on next steps and challenge; staff training on how to question children to develop deeper understanding.

To improve attitudes and behaviours for learning. The River Learning Trust covered this objective in some depth in their education review in the summer term. We know that the pupils and staff understand the principles of Growth Mindset. The pupils understand the impact that effective learning behaviour can have on their progress, particularly in their response to feedback and marking, but class and lesson organization and structure are not as effective as they could be in developing independence for pupils.
To improve the teaching and learning of computing. There has been a significant improvement in the teaching and learning of computing this year. The purchase of the Chromebooks, made with the assistance of The Stone Pit Trust, coupled with the school’s investment in the wireless network have made a huge difference to the confidence with which pupils and staff approach both computing lessons and incorporating IT into other lessons. Wheatley Park School were able to support the school with the initial set up of the Chromebooks and some on-going support with Google Apps for Education. Future plans include curriculum training for staff in delivering IT lessons.
To refine assessment and data tracking systems. The use of Pupil Tracker developed over the year, allowing parents and governors access to live assessment data at key points during the year. Over 2017-18 teachers will be working with teachers in other schools across River Learning Trust to moderate our assessment data.