If you walk regularly along the jitty linking New Street with Church Street you are bound to have noticed the extensive building work that has been undertaken at Hall Orchard Primary School over the last two years. Even if you do not have children attending Hall Orchard you will have noticed the large containers that provided office and storage space for the builders have finally been removed and all has been restored to parking spaces once again.
The work began in December 2015 and has included the restoration/alteration of the Victorian building, conversion of the caretaker’s bungalow into a centre for a Before and After School Club plus a pre-school facility and an extension to the school hall to create a fantastic space for the children to use. This is the work that we can mainly see from the outside but works have also included a redecoration and re-fit of the library, re-fit and redecoration of the Victorian school including new walls, new rooms and new ceiling and finally a corridor that links the school buildings together.
It’s an amazing transformation. I struggled to remember how it was before. I think I could just about point out the location of where the cast-iron stove stood that used to heat the hall in the 1950s! I asked Matthew Harvey, school business manager, if there had been any problems with any of the conversions etc.
He explained that there had been a 10-week delay with the hall extension due to further work being needed with the foundations for the hall extension. This is linked to Barrow having a history of lime-stone mining. Additional work was completed by engineers on the project and after a delay of almost three months the work restarted; all was completed by April 2017.
Thankfully, during the construction there were no major difficulties or complaints despite the loss of parking spaces and at times mud and dust. Staff, governors and parents all accepted the disruption as there was a positive outcome in sight. The contractors ensured that the build programme was completed without disruption to the children’s learning and the children seemed to view the project as an adventure; watching the changes from week to week.
They must have been very excited when the new hall was finally revealed. My first thoughts were that it was a fantastic space and I was very impressed with how well it fitted in with the old hall to create one large area. It is a great resource for the staff and children that can be used in a variety of imaginative ways.
Finally, I asked whether there are any future plans for further expansion but apparently this will depend on whether there are to be any large housing developments in our village in the future. This work has been one of Matthew’s tasks since he came to work at Hall Orchard in 2012. I wonder what his next project will be?
Hall Orchard School Governance Can you Make a Difference?
A vacancy has arisen on the Governing Board which offers an exciting opportunity for successful candidates to make a real difference.
Hall Orchard CE Primary School is a large, vibrant and successful school which aims to ensure children are offered the best opportunity for their academic future and social development. At Hall Orchard we value the family ethos and work hard to promote partnerships with all our stakeholders – including you, a resident of our village. But what are school governors and what do they actually do?
Role of Governors
School governors are the largest volunteer force in the country. As governors of an academy school like Hall Orchard, they are also company directors with overall responsibility for the school and have an important role in raising school standards as well as meeting their statutory responsibilities.
The governing board has four key objectives:
• Setting the school’s vision, ethos and strategic direction
• Holding the Headteacher to account for the day-to-day running of the school and for the educational performance of the school and its pupils
• Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent • Ensuring we comply with all statutory requirements
Governors are not involved in day-today management of the school - that’s the role of the Headteacher and Senior Leadership Staff – but governors’ roles are strategic.
What can I do?
It doesn’t matter if you have children at the school, or have professional qualifications, or not. As a member of the community you can be an effective governor by getting to know the school and developing a good understanding of its strengths and weaknesses including visiting the school occasionally during school hours. You will act in the best interest of all the pupils and staff of the school, and behave in a professional manner and in strict confidence. Formal training and induction is also provided free of charge. For the vacancy that has arisen, we are particularly keen to hear from anyone with skills and knowledge in finance, procurement, fundraising, publicity and safeguarding.
How much time will it take?
The governing board meet formally four times a year on a Wednesday evening (normally between 18:00-20:30), with sub-committees meeting on additional Wednesdays. For these there are board papers to review a week before the meeting, plus the meeting itself. There is also a full visit-day once a year with further opportunities to visit the school (called monitoring visits). The training is normally during weekday evenings with plenty of notice. In total this equates to between 10 and 20 days a year. Under Section 50 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, if you are employed, then you are entitled to ‘reasonable time off’ to undertake public duties; this includes school governance.
Have you got what it takes?
It is certainly a challenge, but also provides much reward. Visiting the school and seeing your strategic vision being implemented and making a real difference to the education of children is simply amazing. To see the hard work, dedication and striving for excellence from the staff is reassuring and the Governing Board always push for the very best. If you can spare the time, have an inquiring and challenging mind and the passion to ensure our children have the very best opportunities possible – then you have what it takes, and we would love to hear from you.
How do I apply?
If you wish to register your interest, please send your letter and CV to firstname.lastname@example.org or by paper to the school reception. A full job description and more information on the role of School Governors at Hall Orchard can be found on the school website: www.hall-orchard.leics.sch.uk.