Silkstone Primary School

helping children realise their gifts and talents


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Do you have the skills, dedication and commitment required to be a co-opted school governor at Silkstone Primary School and to serve your local community?

Dear parent/carer

The governing body, school leadership team and staff have a shared vision for the future of Silkstone Primary School – a future that puts children at the heart of all we do, transforms children’s lives and gives them the very best foundations in life as they continue their journey into secondary education.   As governors, we are “guardians of the vision” and we are proud to serve on the governing body of our very special school.

The role of the governing body is strategic, not operational, with 3 key aims:

  • Ensuring the clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction of the school;
  • Holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils; and
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the school and ensuring money is well-spent.

In summary, governance is about overseeing the success of the school, agreeing strategic priorities and monitoring progress towards them.   The work of the governing body is carried out largely through meetings of the governing body and of its committees.   Our governing body meets once every half-term, usually on a Thursday evening at 6pm.  In addition, governors usually serve on at least one committee, which generally meet half-termly or termly.

We have a strong and effective governing body, but are constantly looking to develop and further strengthen our team.   We now have a couple of vacancies for co-opted governors with the required skills, dedication and commitment to join our governing body and contribute to our school.

We are looking for people with professional skills in two main areas: business/finance and also in Early Years Foundation Stage education.  Governors will be expected to undertake training and development and to comply with our governing body code of conduct, including Nolan’s Seven Principles of Public Life.

The overall annual time commitment for a new governor is likely to be up to 10 days per year, which includes training, meetings, preparation for meetings (including reading papers in advance) and specific roles as required (including as link governor on one of the school’s strategic priorities).    You will be required to undertake a check through the Disclosure Barring Service (formerly Criminal Records Bureau).

Being a school governor is an incredibly rewarding role – and one that puts our children’s futures first – so please think about whether you could contribute to the effective governance of our school.  You will find further information on our school governance on the school website at   https://silkstoneprimaryschool.com/governors.

For details of how to apply to be considered to become a co-opted governor, or if you are interested in first exploring further whether or not to apply and would like an informal, no obligation chat about the role, please email me on p.hinchliffe@harrisaccounts.co.uk

Closing date for applications is 9 a.m. on Monday 14th May 2017.

Kind regards

Yours sincerely

Paul Hinchliffe

Chair of governors, Silkstone Primary School


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Government’s reply to our lobbying for additional funding for Silkstone Primary School

Further to previous blog posts on our school funding position which included copies of correspondence with Angela Smith MP,  yesterday we received a copy of the government’s formal response to Angela from Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School Standards.  A copy of his letter is attached.

Nick Gibb MP reply 210317

Unsurprisingly the letter offers no solution to our issues,  but does note that, following consultation on the National Funding Formula which has now closed, government expects to announce its final decisions on the Formula ahead of the summer recess (21 July 2017).  Whether this will include any change from the indicative 1.2% increase in our funding allocation remains to be seen….

We will of course continue to keep you updated.

In the meantime, have a wonderful Easter holiday and enjoy this truly fabulous weather.

Paul Hinchliffe

Chair of Governors


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Radio 5 Live – Vice-Chair of Governors at Penistone Grammar School speaks

Many of you will know Eugene Gallagher, a former Silkstone Primary School parent and Vice-Chair of Governors at Penistone Grammar School.  Eugene was on Nicky Campbell’s Radio 5 Live programme this morning talking about the huge school funding issues we face locally.

You can listen to the piece by clicking on the following link (its 18 mins 18 seconds in):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08j97fp#playt=0h18m18s

I am particularly struck by the emotion in Eugene’s voice when he explains how his 12 year old daughter (and one of our Y6 pupils last year) asked him why she was worth less than other people?

That same question applies to all our children.   Why indeed?

Paul Hinchliffe

Chair of Governors


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BBC Look North – Silkstone and Penistone Grammar School funding

BBC Look North’s lead story last night was a 7 minute piece on school funding at Silkstone and Penistone Grammar which really highlights the huge issues we face and the great injustice and unfairness of the current system.  If you missed the programme it’s available to view or download until 2pm today:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08htcmt

To add a little more context for you all:

  • Barnsley schools are among the lowest funded schools in the country.   The Secretary of State for Education acknowledges that the current system is hugely unfair and specifically cites Barnsley as an example of that unfairness, saying that if we were in Hackney we would receive 50% more funding (this is nothing to do with London weighting;  neighbouring local authorities to Barnsley also receive significantly more funding than Barnsley).
  • We are also one of the worst funded schools in Barnsley.  There are almost 100 primary schools in Barnsley, but only 3 receive less total per pupil funding than ours. The best funded primary school in Barnsley receives almost 50% more funding per pupil than we do.
  • So not only are we in the one the worst funded local authorities in the country, we are also one of the worst funded schools in that LA.   Quite simply, in funding terms both nationally and locally we are  near the bottom of the pile.  Our children deserve better.
  • We thought the National Funding Formula (NFF) would address the current unfairness for us.   In view of our extraordinarily low baseline position, and all that has been said about the move to a fairer funding system, we genuinely believed the NFF would help us, but sadly it does virtually nothing. The NFF proposals would increase our funding by 1.2% in 2018/19 (not the 1.7% cited on Look North).
  • The biggest issue for Silkstone with the NFF proposals is that the weighting towards basic funding has been reduced, with an even bigger weighting to additional needs (eg deprivation etc).  We absolutely agree that those schools and children with most need should receive more funding;  the current system already recognises this but the NFF proposals shift the balance even further against us.
  • We are lobbying hard for the NFF proposals to be changed, but so is everyone else, particularly those with most to lose.  Look North’s Cathy Killick’s closing comment about the enormous political issues at stake here is very pertinent.  We will have to see what happens over the next few weeks following the end of the NFF consultation on 22 March.  However, given the government’s small majority (just 17) I think it highly unlikely that the NFF proposals will be implemented in their current form. What changes, if any, will be made, we simply don’t know.
  • In the meantime, the governing body, school leadership team and staff are absolutely committed to delivering the best education possible for our children, despite the funding situation we face.    Our children deserve the best, even if the government and DfE don’t agree.

If anyone is interested in further reading about school funding and the NFF,  there is a very good and balanced analysis on the following blog:

https://www.lkmco.org/bigs-slice-cake-national-funding-formula/

Paul Hinchliffe

Chair of Governors

 


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BBC Look North visits our school – watch tonight on BBC1 at 6.30pm

As part of a running feature on local school funding, BBC Look North’s Cathy Gillick visited school today.  We will be part of a bigger item on the crisis in school funding, including the impact on Penistone Grammar School, on tonight’s Look North. Please try to tune in to BBC1 at 6.30pm, record it, or  watch it on catch-up TV/BBC iPlayer later on.   Some of our wonderful children feature….!

Penistone Grammar School has been particularly heavily featured on local news over the last few days, including last night’s Look North and Calendar (both available on Catch-up).  We understand that PGS will also be on tonight’s main ITV national news, together with a further follow-up on tonight’s Calendar (other news programmes are also available…!)

I know it’s Friday evening and the end of a long week for everyone, but please try to tune in to watch and hear about these hugely important issues for our children’s futures.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Paul Hinchliffe

Chair of Governors

 

 

 


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Fairer funding for schools – reply from Angela Smith MP; and Penistone Grammar School on Channel 4 News

We have now received a reply to our letter to Angela Smith MP on fairer funding for schools, referred to in our blog post of 15 February 2017.  Angela Smith’s reply includes a copy of the letter she has sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, on our behalf, asking for more funds to be allocated to schools in his Budget on 8 March 2017.

angela-smith-mp-reply-210217

In addition, Penistone Grammar School ALC’s campaign to highlight its funding crisis that we referred to in our blog posts of 18 and 28 February has now reached the national news.  Last night’s Channel 4 News included a 15 minute piece on school funding including a feature on PGS in which Jo Higgins (Principal), David O’Hara (Chair of Governors) and some 6th Form pupils were interviewed.  The piece then included a studio discussion with David O’Hara, together with a West Sussex Headteacher and a school funding campaigner.   You can view both parts of the news piece as follows:

https://www.channel4.com/news/will-new-fairer-funding-changes-to-schools-cause-more-debt-problems  (its about 1 minutes in)

https://www.channel4.com/news/schools-debate-jo-yurky-jules-white-david-ohara

If anyone is interested in attending one of the important stakeholder meetings at PGS tomorrow (Saturday 4th) or Monday 6th to hear more about their funding crisis,  please click on one of the following links:

Saturday 4 March at 10:00         (Sign up to attend this meeting here)

Monday 6 March at 14:30           (Sign up to attend this meeting here)

Monday 6 March at 18:30           (Sign up to attend this meeting here)

Please note: The same information will be presented at each meeting; PGS have offered three opportunities to ensure as many stakeholders as possible can attend.

Paul Hinchliffe

Chair of Governors


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Penistone Grammar School – fairer funding and Channel 4 News

Dear parents and carers

We posted to the blog of 15 February 2017 highlighting the issue of fairer funding for schools, including a copy of the letter we have sent to our MP, Angela Smith.  We also posted a further blog on 18 February highlighting meetings that Penistone Grammar School (PGS) is inviting all stakeholders to attend, to discuss its funding issues.

Please now also see the following letter sent to all PGS parents yesterday, informing them that the issue has been picked up by Channel 4 News who will be filming at PGS today, with an anticipated screening date of Thursday 2 March.

If you would like to hear more, please sign up to attend one of the meetings using the link below and/or watch Channel 4 News on Thursday.

Paul Hinchliffe

Chair of Governors.

Date: 27 February 2017

Dear Parents and Carers

FAIR FUNDING CAMPAIGN

We write further to our letter dated 17 February when we informed you of our school’s campaign to secure fair funding for our children (a copy of which is attached for ease of reference).

We have just this evening received confirmation from Channel 4 News that they intend visiting the school tomorrow, 28 February 2017.  Their intention is to feature Penistone Grammar School ALC in a Channel 4 news report focusing on the proposed new national funding formula.  This is anticipated to air on Thursday 2 March 2017.

The film crew are likely to be with us between 11:00 and 13:30.  As part of the report they will interview a number of students and film around school, including in lessons.  We apologise for the late notice however; we believe this is a really positive development in support of our campaign.  We will obviously take note of any existing permissions for the taking of photographs of students which are already in place however; f you have any concerns about your child being filmed for this purpose please contact us by email to jbeaumont@penistone-gs.uk.

We would also like to also take this opportunity to thank those parents who have already signed up to attend one of our parent meetings regarding funding; if you haven’t yet had the chance to register your interest you can do so via the links below:

Saturday 4 March at 10:00         (Sign up to attend this meeting here)

Monday 6 March at 14:30           (Sign up to attend this meeting here)

Monday 6 March at 18:30           (Sign up to attend this meeting here)

Please note: The same information will be presented at each meeting; we have offered three opportunities to ensure as many of you as possible can attend.

Finally, we would like to thank you for your ongoing support.

Yours sincerely

Jo Higgins                                    Paul Crook

Principal                                     Associate Principal

 


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Urgent: Penistone Grammar School funding. Important information for ALL our parents and carers.

Dear parents and carers

Further to my blog post of 15th February on Silkstone Primary’s funding which included a copy of the letter we have sent to our local MP, Angela Smith,  I am posting below a copy of a letter that Penistone Grammar School ALC (PGS) sent yesterday to all its parents and carers.

Most of our children, including mine, go to PGS when they leave Silkstone and it is very important that, as parents and carers, you are aware of the financial issues that PGS is facing.    The letter explains in overview the current position.  Nationally, there are only 3 secondary schools (out of 1,143) with lower per pupil basic funding than PGS.  PGS is inviting parents, carers and the wider community – that includes all of us – to meetings to hear about this.

We are blessed with excellent schools in our local villages and community, including Silkstone Primary and PGS.  However, without exception all our local schools are hugely  underfunded, both absolutely and relative to other schools, whether elsewhere in Barnsley, or nationally.

The Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening MP, born, brought up and state-schooled just down the road in Rotherham says in the introduction to the National Funding Formula consultation that:

“Underfunded schools do not have access to the same opportunities to do the best for their children, and it is harder for them to attract the best teachers and to afford the right support. That is why introducing fair funding was a key manifesto commitment. This unfairness is seen right across the country. For example, as we said in the first stage of our consultation, a school in Barnsley could receive 50% more funding, with no changes to its circumstances, if it were situated in Hackney instead.

On the face of it, given our historic chronic underfunding, these grand words appear to offer the prospect of fairer and significantly improved funding for our schools.  Sadly, they are shallow and empty words.  The National Funding Formula proposals do very little to tackle underfunding for our local schools.   In fact in some cases they make it worse, despite our pitifully low base-line position.   This is not a party political comment – our schools have been chronically underfunded for far too long, under all shades of government.

I encourage you to read the letter below, to engage with these issues, and, if possible, to attend one of the meetings at PGS to hear more.

This is our children’s futures at stake.  We have only a very limited window of opportunity for our voices to be heard by government.  Lets make our voices count.

Yours

Paul Hinchliffe

Chair of Governors, Silkstone Primary School

Date:  17 February 2017

Dear Parents and Carers

Are you aware that there are only 3 maintained schools in the country which receive less basic entitlement funding per pupil than Penistone Grammar School ALC?

YOUR CHILD DESERVES FAIR FUNDING

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!

Parental support for the work we do at Penistone Grammar School ALC has always been highly valued by us.  If there was ever a time when we have needed to call upon your support, it is now.

As you will have no doubt seen in the press over recent months, school funding is at the forefront of the political arena and there have been many examples of schools and Local Authorities, such as West Sussex, taking drastic measures to highlight the financial challenges they face.  Our challenge is no less great; in fact we are in real terms one of the most poorly funded schools.  Of the 1,143 maintained secondary schools in the country, there are only 3 who receive less basic entitlement funding per pupil than us.

It is time now for Penistone Grammar School to ensure that our plight to achieve fairer funding is known and widely publicised.

If we do not take action now, our school will be thrown into crisis.  We have a small window of opportunity to challenge the proposals put forward by the Government and ensure your children receive the funding they are entitled to, much earlier than the proposed implementation plan allows for.

We are therefore holding a number of meetings to provide further information about our situation and most importantly, to let you know how you can help us to influence the decisions that are currently being made through the formal consultation (this closes on 22 March 2017).

The meetings are open to anyone to attend, including your friends, family and members of the local community.  We urge as many people as possible to join us in our campaign and get the voices of Penistone Grammar School ALC heard at the highest levels.

Saturday 4 March at 10:00         (Sign up to attend this meeting here)

Monday 6 March at 14:30           (Sign up to attend this meeting here)

Monday 6 March at 18:30           (Sign up to attend this meeting here)

Please note: The same information will be presented at each meeting; we have offered three opportunities to ensure as many of you as possible can attend.

Further information about the government’s proposals can be found via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/schools-national-funding-formula-stage-2.  Should you have any questions please contact us by email at enquiries@penistone-gs.uk.

Yours sincerely

David O’Hara                               Jo Higgins                         Paul Crook

Chair of Governors                   Principal                          Associate Principal


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Letter on school funding from Silkstone Primary School to Angela Smith MP ahead of the 8 March 2017 Budget

The Governing Body’s 2016 Annual Governance Statement published in December included the following commentary on our school’s funding position:

In response to what we believe are local inequalities in the allocation of national funds to Barnsley schools (Silkstone receives one of Barnsley’s lowest per pupil funding allocations) which compounds an inequitable national schools’ funding formula (Barnsley is one of the lowest funded school local authorities in the country), the governing body and school leadership team have lobbied the local authority for a fairer local funding allocation.  Unfortunately no funding changes are planned until the government introduces its proposed national Fairer Funding changes in 2018, details of which have not yet been announced.   In the meantime there remains very significant pressure on school budgets…..The pressure to achieve a balanced budget and yet maintain high quality teaching and learning for our children continues to be challenging, but collaborative working, including with other schools, continues to provide opportunities to mitigate these pressures.”

Many of you will have seen recent commentary on the government’s proposals for changes to school funding  which they claim will result in fairer funding for schools (National Funding Formula).  These proposals include details of the funding each school should receive if the proposals are implemented.   As one of the lowest funded schools in one of the lowest funded local authorities in England, the governing body and leadership hoped that the new National Funding Formula would indeed deliver the much-promised fairer funding for our school and so for our children.  Sadly, this is not the case.  The proposals show that our funding would increase by only 1.2% in 2 years time from the current base-line position.  In fact amongst the local pyramid of 10 primary schools,  Silkstone’s is one of the better outcomes, with most of the local primaries receiving funding cuts from an already low base position.

We wanted to let you know that the governing body and leadership team continues to lobby hard on this point.   We have now written to Angela Smith MP to draw her attention to our current position, and also to ask her to appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, to make more funds available to schools in his Budget on 8th March.   A copy of our letter to Angela Smith is attached for your information.

letter-to-angela-smith-mp-080217

We will let you know when we get a reply.  In the meantime, we want to reassure the whole school community that the leadership team and governing body continues to work extremely hard to achieve a balanced budget and to ensure that our very limited funds are well-spent.

Paul Hinchliffe

Chair of Governors

 


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2015/16 Governing Body Annual Report and Strategic Priorities 2016-21

Governing Body Annual Report 2015/16 and Strategic Priorities 2016-21

As we approach the end of a very busy term and all look forward to a welcome rest over Christmas and the New Year, the governing body of Silkstone Primary School is pleased to publish its 2015/16 Annual Report, together with the school’s Strategic Priorities for 2016-21.

A            Annual Governance Statement

The third Annual Governance Statement and Meeting Attendance Report of Silkstone Primary School can be found on the governance section of the school website:

https://silkstoneprimaryschool.com/governors/

The Annual Statement is published in accordance with the Department for Education (DfE) best practice guidance that each school governing body should report annually to stakeholders on its impact.  The Meeting Attendance Report also reflects best practice guidance on publishing the attendance record of our governors and helps demonstrate their commitment to ensuring excellence in education for all our children.    Many thanks to Rich Meads for his support in converting the original Word document of the Annual  Governance Statement into a glossy publish ready PDF document for the website.

B            Strategic Priorities 2016-21

In early 2016, and taking into account one of the governing body’s core aims of ensuring the clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction of the school, we began a strategic review to develop the school’s overall 5 year plan and core strategic priorities.  Following this strategic review, and informed by our over-riding aim to maintain excellence in every aspect of school life whilst also responding to wider developments in educational policy, the governing body has now approved the following Strategic Priorities for the 5 year period 2016-21:

  • Excellence in teaching;
  • Financial sustainability;
  • Influencing the educational transition;
  • Deeper engagement and partnerships in a school-led system.

Further details of these Priorities and the School’s vision can also be found on the governance section of the school website:  https://silkstoneprimaryschool.com/governors/

On behalf of the governing body, may I take this opportunity to wish a very peaceful and restful Christmas and a very Happy New Year to every member of the school community – children, parents, staff and the many volunteers who all make our school the wonderful place it is.   Thank you for your support during 2016, and we look forward to seeing you next year.

Paul Hinchliffe

Chair of Governors