Governors – Autumn Term 2022

The Autumn Term is always a long one, don’t you think? As such, it also allows for a lot to be packed in. Reviewing some of the weekly newsletters that I always read, I am so proud of all that the girls have achieved yet again. The examples of activity, of work produced and experience, makes me realise how gifted you all are and the amazing breadth of experience the staff create for you.

I have been able to experience some of the fabulous celebrations of student work in and around school on a number of occasions this term. I am always thankful when I receive an invitation to eat food – and that is just what I did at the Language and Literature Festival cake competition! Not only did the cakes taste good but the decorations were superb. I await an annual invitation! Totally different senses were awakened when I observed, listened and commented on the recitations delivered by students for their LAMDA accreditation. I listened to one group, while Mrs Siviter, a recently co-opted governor, listened to another. I loved listening to speeches, extracts and poems that I hadn’t heard before and want to thank Mrs Cattanach for inviting our help.

Another two occasions when I enjoyed evenings in school, were for the Open Evening, where we welcome prospective students to look around our school, and Awards Evening, where we celebrate the achievements of those who have just left. Both occasions fill me with immense pride and are evenings when I can see proud and excited students at their best. It is quite an honour to see the start and end of their journeys with us and to witness their growth during those short five years!

We have also experienced lows to go with those highs; we all celebrated the 70-year reign of the Queen earlier in the summer and then mourned her loss with the country in September. We, in school, also mourned the loss of one of our staff that very week. I have heard it said that sorrow is the price we pay for love. We always retain the memories of those we have loved and lost though.

I know that with the New Year coming upon us fast, we will be able to look forward to greater things. We have a full governing board, and all members are ambitious for the future of the school. On the board’s behalf, I would like to wish our whole school community a restful break and enjoyable time spent with those you love.

Ms Lorimer Russell-Hayes

Chair of Governors

Governors News – Summer Term 2022

There are always some elements of the summer term that are quite stressful, but always many that we enjoy! It is that balance that makes the life of this school so enjoyable.

Our Year 11s made it through the stress of final GCSE exams and came out the other side relatively unscathed; we now look forward with anticipation to see if they have realised their ambitions when the results are published in August. Many parents will have gone through the stress of finding that ‘right’ dress for the final event also, not to mention the hair, tan and nails! All other year groups have received acknowledgement of their learning this year too and we love to see the results of all the hard work. Governors have approved the 2022/23 budget and finalised the outturn statement for 2021/22. We have, as a governing board, started to consider the implications of the White Paper ‘Opportunity for All’ and the SEND Green Paper both presented to government this term, and we will continue to discuss educational issues raised by them in the context of what is in the best interests of Penwortham Girls’ High School.

On the positive side, summer allows for reflection on the successes of the year and we look forward to the new year to come. As I write this, we have just celebrated Sports’ Day successes, its format altered slightly to cater for the heat, and the team spirit it engenders too. Well done to all who took part whether spectator, participant or helper. Last week, staff confirmed senior student roles for next year; thank you to the outgoing year 11s who have performed their roles so successfully and congratulations to next year’s year 11 seniors who we know will rise to the challenge.

This week, we also have the ‘The Sound of Music’ spectacular to look forward to and even though I have not yet attended as I write this, I know it will be brilliant; there is always so much work put into these events by so many staff and students (lots of them behind the scenes) that we always appreciate the final outcome.

Thank you to all of you (staff, students, parents, governors) for another successful year and on behalf of the governors, please let me wish you all a restful and enjoyable summer break.

Mrs Lorimer Russell-Hayes

Chair of Governors

Spring Term 2022 News

The governing board has had another busy term, albeit one of the shortest. It has been incredible to see so many parents engage in our Parent Governor Election also; I think there were more votes than I have ever known! Governors met a couple of weeks ago to confirm the election decisions and to welcome the two new parent governors. At the same time, we also confirmed the nomination of our Local Authority Governor.

It is worth mentioning here that each school’s governing board has several different governor categories. We have 2 parent governors, 1 local authority governor, 1 staff governor, the Headteacher and 10 co-opted or community governors. Each governor has his or her own nominated role and we enjoy many visits (in normal times) to school to carry these out. You may also see many of us at school events. Each category of governor might be appointed in a different way, but each governor has the same rights as any other and no one governor can act alone; we are a corporate body.

We have, despite intermittent restrictions, conducted a great many visits and training sessions again this term. Many governors attended school during the STEM festival, as I did, and I also visited many classrooms while students were completing the class quiz at the end of the festival also! Things were extremely competitive! The buzz around school was palpable and it was clear to see the impact on the students, and on the staff. Well done to all concerned – it was a huge success. That same week, I attended staff professional development sessions related to safeguarding and to Special Educational Needs so there was also evidence of the serious side of teaching. PGHS staff have an incredible ability to motivate and create enjoyable learning experiences for the girls, whilst at the same time creating a safe and caring environment. We are so lucky to be part of this school community.

Lorimer Russell-Hayes

Chair of Governors

Parental Survey 2021

I can’t quite believe it was pre-Covid when I last reported on our parental survey via the newsletter. It seems like so much has changed since then. Certainly, much has changed in the world since then but in reviewing our parental survey, it seems that much of what you love about the school has remained or improved!

  • In terms of non-academic criteria, from your perspective, you rated the following five areas to be the main strengths – school communication, levels of homework, school discipline, developing moral values and school security.
  • The following areas had made significant improvement: school communication, teaching quality, availability of resources and truancy control.
  • None of the criteria reviewed showed a decline since the previous survey two years ago.
  • Parents considered that the school had made significant improvement in rewarding and celebrating achievement.
  • More parents (89%) rate the school as good or very good than in the previous survey.
  • 92% of parents would recommend this school.

The survey highlighted the fact that three criteria have increased in importance to you over the last two years; these are the happiness of your daughter, her confidence and the care of teachers. I feel that this reflects society and the influence of the pandemic, but rest assured, these areas are of great importance to school also. All similar schools performed in the same way.

In terms of the 12 Parent View questions asked, outstanding ratings were given to many elements – too many to mention! Of note though are the following areas which were rated outstanding – control of bullying, developing potential, teaching quality, the right amount of homework and regular marking of work.

The report also equated some of the scoring to Ofsted areas of judgement. Under behaviour and attitudes, all areas were rated outstanding. Under personal development, I am pleased to report that the following areas, amongst others, were rated outstanding – treating all pupils fairly and promoting racial harmony. Overall, the rating for the school is outstanding.

On behalf of the school and of the governing board, I would like to thank you for your contribution to the questionnaire. Your views remain a highly important indicator to us, along with the views of your daughters and of their staff, in showing us whether we are prioritising the right areas. It would appear that we are! I am especially pleased to see the increase in satisfaction with the way school rewards and celebrates achievement; I feel this should be influential in helping your daughters to increase in confidence and happiness after the turmoil of the last two years.

Finally, the governors would like to wish you all a happy, restful and safe festive period.

Mrs L Russell-Hayes
Chair of Governors

Mr H Jackson – Years of Service to the School

Howard Jackson, Vice-Chair of Governors above received a certificate from the Lancashire Association of School Governing Bodies, in recognition of his service to the school.

Howard first joined as a member of the PTA in 1988 as his daughter started at the school. He became chair of that body and used his influence to raise funding for the school via a number of events, such as jumble sales and gala stall sales. He also helped to paint scenery for drama productions and could often be found in school on Saturday mornings!

He was invited by the then headteacher to join the governing body, which he did in 1991. He has served as Chair, Vice-Chair and member of the Finance committee over many years and is currently Vice-Chair overall. Howard uses his influence as a Rotarian and as member and now Captain of Penwortham Golf Club in activities and events in the local community.

He has only praise for the school which he knows as parent, community leader and governor – inside and out! His two daughters attended the school; Samantha is a Detective Police Inspector and Melanie is a primary teacher locally.

Howard is not leaving the governing body just yet but wishes to explore possibilities for young golfers who might be interested in joining the junior section of his golf club.

We would like to thank Howard for his service of over 30 years as governor with Penwortham Girls’ High School, in the hope he remains a governor for a few more years yet!

Mrs L Russell-Hayes
Chair of Governors

Governors News Summer Term 2021

I was, perhaps, a little previous in hoping for the June start to return to normality when I wrote my update last term! The four-week delay takes us now to the end of term so we will have endured a full year of disruption of one sort or another – such has been the nature of this pandemic. My hope and the hope of the governors is that as much normality returns as soon as is possible so that we can all concentrate fully on our raison d’être which is of course that of the best possible educational and personal development outcomes for our students.

But we cannot stand still – and we have not! Governors may have not visited school in person as much as they would have liked but they have still had contact with staff and students where possible. Cumulatively this year, governors have completed 72 training and development sessions and 31 school visits, interviews or zoom meetings with staff.  This has been on top of our normal termly meetings and all despite the Covid situation, which has meant alternative arrangements have been in place in one form or another all year. On their behalf, I have attended meetings with members of the senior leadership team, sometimes virtually, sometimes socially distanced in school, as well as with local authority staff and other Lancashire governors in a variety of settings.

This month, I attended school for a few staff meetings but also to see the UNITEE competition outcomes with the Head teacher and the local MP. I am very grateful to the girls who assisted; my tour of the tee shirts was far more informative thanks to them, as they described the process and the rationale. Thank you to every form and the staff too for their efforts.

So now we prepare for another school year. We have expanded our governing board to include three new governors with exciting skills to bring.  We have reorganised our focus areas and reviewed our structures so that we are as efficient and effective as possible. We will hold our away day, a Saturday morning early in September, when we can get together and ensure we are ready to go!

On behalf of the governing board, I wish all of you – staff, families and students – a restful summer break in readiness for the new school year and I am sending you all our thanks for your contributions over the past year.

Mrs Lorimer Russell-Hayes
Chair of Governors

Governors Update

By the time you read this newsletter, school will have been fully open for a whole 3 weeks! Of course, many students will have attended every day throughout lockdown and all students will have been studying, whether at home or at school. It has been a very strange time and I think we are all relieved to see the light at the end of the tunnel! All things considered, I find it remarkable that we have been able to change our ways of working so rapidly and so drastically. In the hope that we do emerge next term, we need to look back and reflect on how much we have achieved in such incredible circumstances. We have now undergone four consecutive school terms of disruption, meaning over half a school year of partial school closures! Two cohorts of year 11 students have had disrupted GCSEs and weeks of uncertainty. We need to move forward now and be kind to ourselves and others for all we have been through.

Governors have listened to feedback during this time and supported school leaders in amending ways of working where possible. We have ensured all statutory responsibilities are covered, have reviewed risk assessments and looked carefully at the ways in which the curriculum delivery has been amended to take into account the variety of methods in use. We know that students will not have worked at the same pace as each other and that many will have suffered through working on their own. It will take a while to overcome some of the issues but this term, we were keen to see all students settle into school routines again as effectively as possible. I have been proud to see how smoothly the return in June 2020, September 2020 and in March this year has gone and, on behalf of the governing board, would like to thank all the students, staff and volunteers who made the testing process run effectively also. To be used as an example of good practice more than once for the BBC, is praise indeed.

Next term, as lockdown eases and we hopefully emerge to a ‘new’ normal, governors will be looking forward to a term of ‘healing’ where staff and students start to address gaps in learning but also where we all take time to review our own mental health. The role of the governing board is to support and to challenge and we will continue to do both, but we should all – staff, parents, students and governors – remember what a challenging this year this has been and how much support we all need to move forward. Let’s look forward to a more settled summer term, a way out of lockdown and better weather, which will prepare us all for a more positive way ahead.

Ms L Russell-Hayes
Chair of Governors

Governors Review of Remote Learning

Even though many aspects of school life are not working ‘as normal’ during this pandemic, governors still have a duty to monitor the effectiveness of the school provision. The recent publications by the government and Ofsted gave us an opportunity to reflect on how well we are satisfying the requirements around remote learning. Through frequent ‘zoom’ meetings with the governing board, and via information shared by school, we remain in awe of what the school staff manage to provide for all students, whether students attend school in person or access remote learning. We have also been made aware that the school is frequently quoted as an example of good practice across Lancashire by the advisory team; this gives us great confidence that the adopted approaches are the right ones.

In mid- January, Ofsted and the government both published information and guidance on remote learning, against which governors have been able to reflect on school strategy. It outlines four examples of what is meant by remote learning:

  • Any learning that takes place outside the classroom.
  • Online learning – anything accessed via a digital platform.
  • Blended learning – where there is a mixture of online learning and face to face learning.
  • Live lessons happening in real time or accessed by students later.

The guidance goes on to outline some facts and to bust some myths about what remote education is and what it is not. The governing board noted in particular the following points made:

  • Remote education is not different in its aim to provide high quality learning for students; it simply does so via a different means because we cannot all meet face to face currently. School will follow the same schemes of work as normal and will deliver them in a way best suited to the intended learning.
  • Sometimes remote education will consist of a live lesson, but equally sometimes the best method of learning is via a worksheet, textbook or presentation. Five hours per day learning by students requires a variety of approach, as you might imagine.
  • Feedback is as important as ever to avoid misconceptions and clarify learning points. The method of doing this might be via chatroom discussions, interactive tools such as quizzes or via question and answer during live lessons or in written feedback.
  • ‘Some think that a live lesson is the ‘gold standard’ of remote education. This isn’t necessarily the case.’ ‘Different approaches to remote education suit different types of content and pupils.’ (Ofsted 2021)

Governors will continue to monitor the school’s strategies in this area and to assess their success as the restrictions (hopefully) begin to loosen. We have been encouraged by the positivity of parental, student and staff feedback and also by all of the examples of excellent work that we see weekly though this newsletter. We continue to be guided by the ever-changing COVID risk assessment completed by the school and throughout, remain conscientious of our role in monitoring the safeguarding and wellbeing aspects through close scrutiny.

Lorimer Russell-Hayes, Chair of the Governing Board

Governors thank students, staff and parents

After some challenging months, both in and out of school, it makes a lovely change when there are positive aspects of life to tell you about. The focus of the governing board since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak has been twofold – to promote as near normal learning and teaching, which in turn helps to maintain a stable and reassuring base, and to protect and promote mental health and wellbeing in these times of uncertainty and anxiety. Both priorities have focussed our minds, our discussions, and our decisions.

Of course, none of our deliberations would be possible without an outstanding staff body and we, as governors, wish to express our thanks for all the extra hard work on their part to go the extra mile. Parents and carers have been supportive of the staff efforts and we thank you for all your positive messages. The girls continue to be a credit to the school and this term’s BBC visits displayed all those positive aspects of the school. Thank you, everyone!

Governors, as mentioned, have looked at various aspects of wellbeing of staff and of students this term. We were happy to see that, despite all the issues faced, the Year 7 students settled in well. For this year and the previous three years, over 90% of Year 7 students feel they settled in well and over 95% said they made friends easily. Over 90% feel happy and well organised. 99% of students felt Covid safe in school, no doubt helped by 95% of the students feeling that staff are friendly and helpful. Throughout all the turmoil, school has remained a positive and happy learning space and the school overall has exceeded national attendance percentages during this time, which supports these results. It is unfortunate that some of their activities have had to be clipped but Year 7 students, as other year groups, have shown some amazing resilience this term.

Of course, a positive staff is key; staff have certainly been challenged this term, as last, but the headteacher and her leadership team have supported them throughout this time and the governing board has, in turn, supported the headteacher. Despite the year we are having, the staff voice is more positive than ever! 100% of staff agree or strongly agree that they are proud to be part of the school. 95% of staff believe leaders do all they can to ensure a motivated, respected, and effective staff. 97% of staff feel well supported and staff feel that leaders are considerate of their wellbeing. Their positive replies lay testament to this and include:

  • ‘Particularly in these more turbulent times, it has felt that leaders of the school have their staff wellbeing and safety as a priority.’
  • ‘The approach to Covid has been outstanding.’
  • ‘I feel that senior leaders go above and beyond.’
  • ‘Even during a pandemic, the expectations were clear and the atmosphere was calm.’
  • ‘The leadership team is approachable, professional and caring.’
  • ‘The school is very proactive; problems are often identified in advance and dealt with before they happen.’

We, as governors, draw our evidence from a variety of sources and listening to the voices of our staff, students, families, and community is just a part – but a very telling part. As I read this newsletter, as you will, we will have more evidence of what a successful, motivated, and outstanding school we have.

Stay safe over the break!

Ms L Russell-Hayes
Chair of Governors

Governors News Summer Term 2020

Dear Staff, Students and Parents,

The governing board would like to extend a massive thank you to all of you for how you have worked hard to counter all the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and what it has meant to our school community. During this term, governors have continued to meet, albeit virtually, to continue our work in supporting the excellent standards that we have all fought hard to maintain. I do not believe it has been easy for any one of us! It has been evident to us though, that staff have worked tirelessly, often behind the scenes to provide as much continuity as possible; we have seen, through meetings and via the newsletter, how hard staff and students have worked during these past weeks in the most challenging of circumstances. We obviously cannot forget the efforts that parents and carers have put into the education of their daughters – a task they never expected to be theirs! Some students have been in school throughout and their efforts and dedication have been noted also. We must never forget, of course, the role of the key workers without whom we would not have got thus far and we send grateful thanks to you also.

It has been a strange time for all of us and we, the governing board, are in awe of what has been achieved by the school and its community. Whilst we realise that things will not exactly be ‘back to normal’ in September, they will be moving, hopefully, in that direction. There are some elements that have been lost, which is sad, such as the way Year 11 students have not experienced the usual fulfilment of their time at school but we hope they feel their results are a true reflection of what they would have achieved through the examination process and their planned ‘end of term’ will take place in some form in the autumn.

Looking ahead, we have as a governing board, said a big thank you and good bye to two governors: Mr J Roy and Mrs S Midjek-Conway who have both served nearly two terms of office (a term of office is 4 years) with the school and we have now welcomed two new parent governors and a new community governor who start with us in September. Although the role of governor is not often evident, the work governors do both to support and challenge the school is a key one and I thank all of my governors for their efforts this year.

I wish all of you, staff, students, governors, and parents & carers, a restful and safe summer and hope we are able to start next year on a more even keel!

Ms Lorimer Russell-Hayes, Chair of Governors

  • Arts Council England - Artsmark Gold
  • Lancashire Socio-economic Equality Badge
  • School Mental Health Award
  • Ofsted - Outstanding Provider
  • Arts Council England - Artsmark Gold
  • Lancashire Socio-economic Equality Badge
  • School Mental Health Award
  • Ofsted - Outstanding Provider