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Parents Forum 21 October 2019

07 November 2019

Parent Forum 21 October 2019

Held at Gosforth Junior High Academy

20 parents attended

Representing schools:

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

George Snaith - Chair of Multi Academy Trust Trustees

Chris Duckett – Executive Director of Communications, teaching and learning

Preit Chahal – Head of school, Gosforth Academy

Denise Waugh, Head of school, Gosforth Junior High Academy

 

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 several times each year with invitation for topics and questions made shortly before each meeting.

Parents were updated about the progress to date of Gosforth Great Park Academy, Callerton Academy, the growing Multi Academy trust and our vision for the future.

Results at the two schools were shared. It has been a bumper year at GA with value added making us second in the ‘league tables’ in the region. At 6th form it has also been GA’s best year ever, with increasing numbers of students going to Oxbridge, doing medicine, dentistry and vet courses. The vast majority of students got their first choice university.

Agenda items raised in advance:

Review days.

In response to past comments at the forum Preit Chahal explained the threefold reasons for us holding review days as opposed to extra evenings to the scheduled subject ones. They enable a one to one with plan managers / form tutors, maximising achievement sessions and careers conventions. We fully recognise that it’s a ‘big deal’ for people to take time away from work and that this is not always possible. However, the feedback from these events has for many years been overwhelmingly positive and attendance very high. Attendees still remained unconvinced – talking about the stress of finding childcare. Middle school parents asked for consideration of a reduction in the number of days. We will monitor carefully parental feedback throughout the year and review before planning next year’s calendar. The issue will also be tabled at the next meeting of the Local Governing bodies.

Lunch time queues

There was praise for the new cashless system and from some parents for the sensitive monitoring of students and their eating. Some queries were raised about the time it takes to queue at the Junior High and what options might be available towards the end of service. Denise Waugh urged parents to contact the school if they have concerns here so that it could be investigated and a solution found. It was suggested that pre-booking could be beneficial. We will investigate whether this might be a possibility.

Uniform

Concerns were raised about the volume required of items with the logo and thus cost concerns. Some parents did praise the quality and good value the current uniform provides. Chris Duckett explained how uniform suppliers are sourced across the multi academy trust to ensure quality and best value, and compared the significantly lower cost of Gosforth uniform to that of all other Newcastle schools. He also shared the varied ways we attempt to make uniform purchase easier for families in challenging circumstances. It was agreed that the ‘marketing group’ will explore the potential for ‘iron on’ logos.

It was asked whether a ‘hot weather’ variant of the uniform could be allowed – specifically one allowing shorts. This will be tabled for consideration by directors and local governing bodies.

Trips

A request was made for advance notice of what’s coming up during the year at both schools – and to know what’s planned for ‘yellow week’.

The forum meets next on 2 March 2020 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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