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Parent Forum 22 October 2018

06 November 2018

Parent Forum 22 October 2018

Held at Gosforth Junior High Academy

30 parents attended

Representing schools:

Geoff Norris - Chair of Gosforth Academy / Gosforth Junior High Academy and Local Governing Body

George Snaith - Chair of Multi Academy Trust Trustees

Chris Duckett - Director of Communications, teaching and learning

 


George Snaith explained the purpose of the remit of the forum.

Our Parent Governors are representatives of the parent body but are not representatives of any particular group of parents. As such they have no special mandate or constituency but they do have an important voice on the Governing Body. However, the roles and remit of governing bodies have shifted over recent years and thus the scope for ‘day to day’ matters has diminished. We see a Parents Forum as a way forward to bridge the gap and to ensure that all parents’ voices can be heard and parents have a chance to be consulted on the academy’s direction of travel.

The forum is not intended to be ‘whinge-in’, nor for airing matters about your own child only - as a listening school parents must always feel free to contact us about individual concerns they may have.

Meetings are held termly with invitation for topics and questions made shortly before each meeting.

Parents were updated about the progress to date of Gosforth Great Park Academy, the growing Multi Academy trust and our vision for the future. George Snaith stressed that parents should have no concerns that we’re ‘spreading ourselves too thinly’. He explained how expansion connects to our succession planning and explained the future Multi Academy (MAT) structure. Chris Duckett talked about the many benefits brought to all schools within the trust from becoming a MAT.

Some questions were raised about parent - school communication. It was asked why currently it is only possible for one parent to receive text messages. We are currently investigating this – but believe it is essentially about cost.

There was some discussion about trips - especially those offered as part of ‘Yellow Week’. These related to cost and fairness of the signing up process.

There was a request for the overall programme to also be shared earlier to allow choices to be made. Parents from the Junior High expressed their gratitude for the introduction of ‘Yellow Week’ there and the choices possible at even modest cost.

Some queries were raised about after school activities and enrichment. One of these was about when things have to be cancelled at very short notice. If this happens, we remind parents that the Library at each school remains open every day late, so that students are always able to stay on site. Some parents suggested that ‘7-up’ ought to be compulsory and there was a debate about which students actually benefit most from attendance.

Several Junior High new year 5 and Gosforth Academy new year 9 parents present expressed a variety of concerns - describing the transition as ‘a total culture shock’.

Some concerned quite distressing anxieties felt by individual children at the new milieu and systems experienced by transfer to a new school. Two parents of slightly older students were keen to share considerably more positive assessments based upon their familiarity with a longer-term picture.

Thorough analysis of the detailed comments and questionnaires from the last two year’s review days show that 98% of parents feel that they and their child’s experience of both schools had been completely positive and that they would recommend the school to other parents.

If parents still have any concerns we urge you to contact form tutor / key stage manager / Director of Junior High as a matter of urgency. We’re committed to ensuring a brilliant experience for all our students so that they can ‘create their future’! Additionally, we remind parents that the forum is not the venue for discussing individual children or staff.

Parents (once again) asked about the possibility of training days being aligned across the whole pyramid. Chris Duckett explained about the difficulties posed by getting agreement from so many institutions with very different demands - the issue has been raised many times but there has been no agreement reached to date. George Snaith promised to take the matter to the other trust for consideration.

The question was posed about why the academy doesn’t post the specifics of the school calendar until late in July. Chris Duckett will investigate the possibility of making this available earlier.

The forum meets next on 4 March and 8 July 2018 at Gosforth Academy in the Lecture Theatre. Please email chris.duckett@ga.newcastle.sch.uk with any suggestions for the agenda. We would also be grateful for any comments you’d like to make in relation to any of the above issues.

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