Welcome to the Three Hares Governors blog page. Our purpose is to share information about the Three Hares from a governance perspective with parents and carers, as well as other members of our Three Hares community. We hope that you will find it interesting and informative.
As every recent blog will have begun, it has been a challenging and unusual year to say the least! For us as governors, we have never experienced anything like this. We are used to being able to visit schools regularly, attend meetings and make decisions based on historical knowledge of the schools combined with forward-thinking strategic plans. As you can imagine, all of this changed in March 2020…
The Dartmoor Multi-Academy Trust installed Dan Morrow as its new CEO, and he began his role in January 2021, although many of you will have met him virtually, when we held our parent forums at the end of last year. Governance work by the local governing bodies of all schools in the DMAT was suspended in the Spring Term at his request, to allow school leaders to focus solely on the schools’ provision to pupils. This meant we no longer held our regular governor meetings, but the Chair and other governors kept in regular contact with the schools during this time to provide support and a listening ear. There were also fortnightly meetings with the Trustees, Chairs of Governors and Dan to keep up to date with all that was happening across the MAT and schools in general. During lockdown, an extraordinary amount of work went into ensuring the education our of children continued whether in school or at home and our thanks go to all those who played a part in this effort.
During the governance suspension, following a review of the Governance structure, we changed from being known as a Local Academy Committee, to the Local Stakeholder Board. The scope of our role has evolved, and the recently-published Scheme of Delegation (which sets out in detail the specifics of our role) explains that the purpose of the LSB is “to provide local access and accountability for our parents and carer; framed within a cooperative structure to build and deepen partnership and connection. This is the place that the voice of the individual pupil, staff member, parent and other membership groups is heard and understood; where the lived experience of our provision and offer is felt and triangulated.”
But, what do we actually do on a day-to-day basis?! Well, we are divided into small groups covering Ethos, Safeguarding, SEND, Foundation, Resources, and Quality of Education. Each governor takes a “lead” for the group, so we focus our skills on particular areas of interest and ability. Our part is mostly to monitor that the schools are fulfilling their statutory responsibilities as well as ensuring that their strategic goals are being met. This might be in respect of staffing, budgeting, the premises, curriculum etc. We review the various policies and then look for evidence that everything is as it should be! It is also important that we stay up to date with legislation and keep our own knowledge up to date, so we attend various training sessions – some compulsory for the role (such as safeguarding) and others optional. We communicate frequently via email, but also with regular meetings.
Our first meeting of the term was a couple of weeks ago, and all governors were in attendance. Most of our discussion was based around listening to each Principal update us in respect of their school – how the first couple of weeks of term have been, any challenges they are facing and things that are going really well, that might be shared between the three schools.
We also discussed recruitment of two new parent governors to join our LSB. You should have received an email about this with details from your Principal. If you are interested and would like further information, please do contact our Chair of Governors, Emma Neath, whose details are below. We currently have three governors with connections to Chagford, two for North Tawton and two for South Tawton.
A number of us have attended training sessions, provided by the DMAT and the Diocese. These include OFSTED training, Ethos, Safeguarding, and Ensuring a Quality Curriculum. Our Chair of Governors, Emma Neath, attended North Tawton’s Relationships and Sex Education parents’ forum, and the DMAT’s policy on this will be finalised and released shortly.
Mel Holyoak, Vice-Chair of the LSB and Foundation Governor, is working alongside Mark Neave (Foundation Governor) with Ed Finch, Ed Pawson (of the Diocese of Exeter) and Rev Paul Seaton-Burns to review the implementation of the new SIAMS (Statutory Inspection of Anglican & Methodist Schools) framework in Chagford.
Our next blog may not be quite as detailed, but we hope that you have found this introduction insightful! If you have any queries and would like any further information, please contact Emma Neath – Chair of Governors: email@example.com
Dear Colleagues, Parents, Carers and Friends of Chagford CE Primary School,
Over recent weeks and months, since the Trust appointed our new CEO, Dan Morrow, school leaders across DMAT have engaged in exciting work to bring us together as a collaborative and cooperative team. This work is bringing about transformation within the Trust: Together we are a family of schools, united in our mission to sustain and strengthen our communities through exceptional education; based on the needs and aspirations of our children and the communities we serve. We will transform the life chances of children and adults alike, within and beyond our Trust.
There has been a real sense of joy in our work together this term, where we have explored the rich vision and values of our Trust. As we stride forward, enjoying opportunities to reflect the strengths in each other, we will also be able support one another's relative vulnerabilities.
The changes in leadership which you can read about here, will enable us, more than ever before to put children at the heart of everything we do, and every decision we make; leading rather than managing. This will ensure that we can really bring to the fore our civic responsibility to educate this generation of children and get it right for the next generation. Our school leaders will be empowered to serve our communities.
What do these changes mean for the Three Hares?
As you will have read in the School News Blog, Tara Penny will become Principal of North Tawton Primary, with Ed Finch taking the role of Principal at Chagford CE Primary. Sunita Chauhan will move to become Principal over Bradford Primary and BlackTorrington CE Primary Schools. Whilst the Three Hares will miss Sunita, as we move forward as a Trust, we will of course still work together as school leaders. Sarah Marvin will remain as Principal of South Tawton Primary.
My role of Executive Headteacher is also set to change, transitioning to work together with the other Executive Principals across all of our Trust schools, each with a focus area to drive forward. Though my allegiance, solely to the Three Hares will change, I am thrilled to be able to continue the work that has taken place to bring us together as a cluster of schools, just extending across a wider context.
Over the coming days before Easter and in the weeks after Easter, the transition for new leadership will continue. Executive Principals and Dan Morrow will visit all of our Trust schools so that parents and children can meet them. I hope that our Three Hares communities will extend a warm welcome to our school leaders. Meanwhile, please take two minutes to view a video about the Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust changes in leadership.
As we begin a new chapter in our Trust, with lockdown restrictions shortly beginning to ease and Covid-19 vaccines taking a hold, we look forward to fulfilling our promise to you to 'be the best that we can be' in order to deliver the very best education for our children.
With kindest regards,
As we draw close to the end of a really busy and exhausting half term for everyone, I have been reflecting on these six, unusual weeks.
It is with pride, that I often receive feedback about the excellent work that happens in our Three Hares schools. Most recently, we were described as the most positively cohesive group of schools within our Trust. As we continue on our journey, working together, benefiting from each other’s strengths, the impact on your children’s development and enrichment will continue to grow.
I would like to pay tribute to our teachers and support staff who have truly gone above and beyond to deliver the improved Remote Learning offer that we promised, following the first lockdown, last year. Within the Three Hares, I am really proud that we managed to deliver on that promise with the launch of Google Classroom across our schools, almost overnight. It has not been an easy journey, but due to the hard work and diligence of our staff and everyone going ‘the extra mile’, we have been able to ensure that our Three Hares curriculum has continued in spite of lockdown.
Of course, this would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of parents at home, many of whom are trying to work from home as well and/or challenged with supporting more than one child. Thank you for your compassion and understanding. We look forward to hearing government advice about the plans for the return of our children as from 8th March.
Thank you for the feedback many of you were able to provide through our recent surveys. We have been interested to process and follow-up your thoughts on well-being as well as provision of teaching and learning. Alongside really positive feedback about the curriculum, the highly valued new aspect of remote learning has been the provision of live interactions with teachers and support staff, either through registration, lessons, small group or 1:1. We have worked hard to develop this in all of our schools and it has evolved in a variety of ways, all of which aim to enable children to engage with their learning and maintain a feeling of belonging within the school community. Of course, there is no ‘requirement’ for live teaching, but I am delighted that we have been able to enable most children to engage in this way.
Provision of additional devices to support families at home has been essential and with the arrival of further Chromebooks from the DfE last week, we have been able to go further to ensure our children have access to their learning. Thank you to those of you who have also donated devices to be ‘wiped’ and made available to other families. It is heart-warming to feel the support for each other is shared across our schools.
Vision, Values and Ethos
It has been an exciting few weeks since Christmas, working collaboratively with Dan Morrow and leaders right across our Trust, to develop a common understanding of our Vision, Values and Ethos. Together, we have explored the International Cooperative Values and the principles that underpin them.
We are keen to explore with you as parents and our wider communities, how our Three Hares Values of: Hope, Respect, Courage, Kindness, Honesty and Curiosity relate to the cooperatives. Once children return to some semblance of normality in school again, we would hope to see these values being lived and breathed in everyday life in and beyond school, with children being able to identify them in themselves and each other, their community, famous people, paintings and so on.
We would love to share your thinking, ideas, and contributions within a meeting for each school. Our recent ethos forums were sadly not well-attended, perhaps due to the current time-constraints imposed by home-learning and work commitments. However, we would really welcome your support and input and drive towards establishing our ‘Three Hares Vision Statement’. We are working with the wording ‘Together, we will live, love and learn with abundance’, which we hope will reflect our aim to deliver a primary experience which goes above and beyond.
We have been delighted to welcome Mr Steve Kiff to our team, as our Three Hares Premises Officer. Steve has thankfully been able to take up the mantle of managing the range of ongoing projects across our schools. With Trust support we have a number of plans which we are keen to progress, as described during our meetings with parents last term. I hope to be able to update you on our progress over the coming weeks as we continue to drive improvements to pre-school and early years environments at North and South Tawton and outdoor environment at Chagford.
So, I would like to round off with a resounding ‘thank you’ to you all: children, parents, and staff, for everything that you have done and continue to do, to support the work of our Three Hares schools to provide the best opportunities for our children.
I hope you enjoy a relaxing break over the half term week.
With my very best wishes,
Elizabeth Underwood, Executive Headteacher, The Three Hares Primary Schools.
Primary Executive Principals
The Primary Executive Principals, Elizabeth Underwood, Lisa Paton, and Phil Whittley work with Principals across all of the Trust primary schools to support school improvement.