Bernards Heath

Infant & Nursery School

Back on the 12th March 2020 our Full Governing Body met in school for our annual Governor Day. A day that we all come into school and absorb ourselves in school life. An opportunity to talk to children and staff about what life at Bernards Heath is really like and get to see lessons in action. A highlight of the day is always our lunch in the hall with children. As we sat in Mrs Rimmer’s office that Thursday afternoon for an end of the day feedback session we all noted down some next steps that we were planning to work on based on what we’d seen that day. The last thing we added to our list was to revisit with the Senior Leadership Team our Business Continuity Plan in light of the news headlines we were hearing about Coronavirus. We had no idea that day that we needed a Business Continuity Plan for Governors too. Or that it would be 15 months before Governors would be able to meet in person again!

On Tuesday last week (15 June 2021) we were all delighted to be invited into school again. Or more accurately to be invited onto the school field for our first outdoor governors’ meeting.

Over the last 15 months, governors have held a total of 7 FGB meetings online on Teams, as well as 14 sub-committee meetings. Individual governors have held virtual meetings with staff from their kitchens, dining tables and spare bedrooms to cover everything from a school IT audit and setting the school budget for the next financial year to how we are supporting our families and children in receipt of the Pupil Premium. We’ve also reviewed numerous risk assessments for school reopening at various stages in the pandemic and tried to keep on top of all the relevant DfE guidance. In the early days of Covid-19, Governors came into school to stand in for MSAs who were shielding at home and to provide support to staff when many of our SLT were also shielding. We’ve helped to set up the school’s YouTube channel and reviewed our online safety policy as we moved schooling online for many of our children. As school re-opened and the “conveyor belt” system of drop off and pick up was initiated Governors have also been behind masks on the gate several mornings a week to help ensure that the system works and that we keep everyone safe.

The fifteen months have also seen us wave Mrs Rimmer off on maternity leave, appoint Miss Cooper to be a part-time maternity cover head teacher to work alongside Miss Woolfson, and then welcome Mrs Rimmer back to school. More recently we attended an online Herts for Learning online training course to help us prepare for when Ofsted next visit, held a parent governor election and have welcomed Gemma Cole onto our Governing Board as our most recently appointed Governor.

This year, our governor day took something of a hybrid format. We started the day on Teams with Mrs Rimmer welcoming us all from her laptop as she sat in school and online we were able to discuss the school’s Vision, Values and Aims, discuss how we support the Governing Body to meet its statutory functions, and review our School Development Plan for the last year and talk about how the one for the next year will look. Split into smaller groups, governors discussed sustainability in school, took an in depth look at Foundation Stage pupil data, checked the school website to ensure statutory compliance, ensured that key safeguarding records are up to date, with Mrs Kingham, through an audit of our Single Central Record and performed a Governor Health and Safety audit. Our Pupil Premium Governors also came into school to look at some of the children’s school books.

All Governors were invited to have lunch on the school field with Mrs Rimmer and although not on a level with eating in the hall with the children we were thrilled to be back in school, and back together in person as a Governing Body. After lunch we continued to work outside to follow up on the Ofsted training that we completed earlier in the year. Not only did this involve looking at what we need to have ready for Ofsted’s visit, but also some self-reflection on how well we are operating as a governing body, and steps we want to take as we move into the next academic year to ensure we focus on being strategic after a year of being more reactive

Doing things virtually simply isn’t the same as being in person and we all came away feeling like our governor batteries had been recharged in the sunshine, as well as having a clearer plan for the year ahead. We missed being able to spend time with the children and top of our list for when restrictions are eased further is return visits to school to engage with classes and actually talk to children about their time in school. There was also talk of arranging to come and have lunch with the children again just as soon as it is allowed. Always a highlight.

As ever, huge thanks to Mrs Rimmer and all staff for welcoming us into school so warmly.