Wednesday 13 May 2015

Parent meeting with Golder Associates

Notes provided by Jodie Terry from the meeting with Golders on 12th May. 

These are not minutes and so have not been agreed by participants - they are personal notes and may therefore be subject to misinterpretation or inaccuracy. They are intended to give a general summary of what was discussed. More detailed information will be available when the presentations including answers to specific questions are loaded to the website.

The meeting was attended by about 25 parents as well as representatives from Golder Associates, Soilfix, ECHarris, RBKC and Fox.

Works will commence the week starting 18th May.
During the first week the wall along side the school, on Kensington place will be removed and replaced with temporary hoarding. A portable building will be installed providing children’s toilets and school office. These toilets are not ‘portaloos’ but proper plumbed in toilets. These will be in place for the entire project. The contractor compound will be established for the enabling works contractor, cordoned off from the rest of school with high hoarding. During the week of the 18th May the north playground will not be open to children.
During half term the cottage will be removed. First, all items containing lead will be removed by hand and contained in covered skips. Following this the rest of the cottage will be demolished carefully using controlled demolition methods and removed from site. Also during this week the most of the elements within the toilet block which have evidence of contamination will be removed by hand and contained in covered skips.
In the first week after half term (week commencing 1st June) the toilet block connecting the school building to the embankment will be removed. This building has fewer items containing high levels of lead. The remaining contaminated elements that it was not possible to remove during the half term will be removed by hand under controlled conditions and contained.
These works will be done behind high hoarding with stringent dust containment methods in place.
Also during the week starting 1st June, the sanitary connections will be made to the temporary toilets and utilities will be connected to the temporary office.
Access to the eastern end (about 50%) of the north playground will be restored in the week starting 8th June and the toilets and temporary office will be in use.
Dependent on the type of work being done there will be regular air monitoring to check that dust levels are maintained below safe limits. At higher risk times this will be done daily. These readings will be shared with the school as soon as possible.
Prior to any demolition there will be swabs done of the school environment to establish a baseline reading. During and after the demolition these swabs will be repeated and compared to the baseline, to ensure that dust containment is working and therefore contaminants are not being released.
Golder have requested an estimated turnaround time from the lab analysing these swabs and hopes that they will be able to do them within 24 hours but cannot yet confirm that. The results of analysis will be made available on the school website. 

The Health and Safety Executive has approved the methodology being used for these works.

Weekly updates on building progress will be provided by the school in the Newsletter. 

Monday 11 May 2015

Governor oversight of SATS procedures

On Monday 11 May 2015 at approximately 8.45 am, Ben Ward (Parent Governor) visited the office of the Fox School Bursar, Gloria Double, to observe the secure storage and handling of Year 6 SATs examination paper. He was shown the locked storage cupboard where the tests are kept. Gloria confirmed that teachers do not have access to the key, which is held in the school safe overnight. He observed Gloria remove a box containing today's tests and examined the tests inside the box which were in sealed packets. There was no sign of any tampering with the packets.

This check of SATs procedures was then followed up by Sema Aydin (Parent Governor) who also checked the secure storage. Sema went on to check the exam conditions and environment. She noted that the time allowed for the test was clearly indicated on the white boards in the classrooms. The children were working on their tests in very quiet classrooms supervised by two members of staff. All children had the correct equipment for the test. In the classrooms all displays or materials that could help children were covered. The seating arrangements allowed the children to work independently.

The Fox Governing Body congratulates all the children and teachers in year six on the enormous amount of hard work they have put into preparation for the tests and wishes them the very best of luck!

Ashburnham visit by Fox Class reps - Sema Aydin

Last Tuesday (4th May) the Class Reps from Fox School were kindly invited to visit Ashburnham Community School. 
The journey was very smooth and quick, we travelled by 328 bus.
On our arrival we were welcomed by The Executive Headteacher Paul Cotter and Associate Headteacher Bella Street. They gave us a full visit of the school and invited us to observe all the classrooms at work. We all were very impressed by the hard work, excellent standards and dedicated teachers. 
Ashburnham was rated Outstanding by Ofsted a few weeks ago. A very well deserved result! And congratulations again to the whole team.
Sema Aydin (Parent Governor at Fox School)

Several class reps also communicated how impressed they were by the school and in particular how the school was incredibly neat, clean and well organised, that children were very focussed on their learning and that everyone was very proud of the excellent results they had received. JT

Friday 3 April 2015

Fox-Ashburnham Federation decision

On Monday 30th March, Fox Governors considered the proposal to federate with Ashburnham and voted unanimously in support. As the body responsible for the long term strategic direction of Fox, the Fox Governing Body have concluded after much reflection and deliberation that federation would be in the best interest of Fox School and its future.  

Ashburnham Governors had voted unanimously at an earlier meeting, although this was not discussed by the Fox Governing Body or taken into account in its decision. This means Fox and Ashburnham will form a combined Governing Body in September 2015 and the schools will formally become a Federation. There would be no other changes to either school as Paul Cotter is already acting as the Executive Head of Ashburnham.

Ben Ward and Jodie Terry sent to Governors, ahead of the meeting, every comment received in consultation so that Governors could see what concerns parents had. Governors had also been presented with feedback from children earlier in the week. There was also a discussion about the views of staff, who are overwhelmingly supportive of federation.  

The results of the consultation showed a narrow majority in support of the Federation. There were however many concerns addressed about the structure of the proposed combined GB.  As a result of the feedback, the Fox-Ashburnham Governors Federation working group proposed a number of changes to the committee structures aimed at addressing those concerns. During the March 30th meeting, Governors spent a long time considering the feedback and the proposals for changes to the committee structure where it was felt parents’ concerns could be best addressed.

The overriding concern expressed during the consultation was that having one Governing body created a risk that Governors would ‘take their eye off the ball’ at Fox with a negative impact on the excellence of teaching and learning.  

The Federation working group therefore proposed that there be a separate Standards Committee for each school. The Fox standards committee for example would focus specifically on the attainment and achievement of pupils at Fox as well as other school specific issues and parental concerns. Fox parent Governors would sit on this committee, along with Paul Cotter and the Fox teacher member of the Governing body as well as other governors. Additionally a separate Building committee would be set up to oversee building works at Fox. 

It was proposed that at the end of the first academic year, there would be a review of the committee structure, the Chair and Vice Chair positions, as well as a full review of how well the Federation was working.  

The Governing body was very appreciative of the time taken by parents to contribute the consultation. 

Friday 20 March 2015

Results of Planning Application

On 17th March, the Planning Applications Committee unanimously approved the planning permission for the Project, subject to authorisation from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. It is hoped a decision will be received from him by the 30th March. 

The application was referred to the Secretary of State by Sir Malcolm Rifkind at the request of a residents group. Attached is guidance as to applications that the Secretary of Sate may wish to 'call in' (i.e. decide on personally).

Written Ministerial Statement
Friday 26 October 2012
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Nick Boles): The Localism Act has put the power to plan back in the hands of communities, but with this power comes responsibility: a responsibility to meet their needs for development and growth, and to deal quickly and effectively with proposals that will deliver homes, jobs and facilities.
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has the power to “call in” planning applications for his own consideration. There will be occasions where he considers it necessary to call in a planning application for determination, rather than leave the determination to the local planning authority.
The policy is to continue to be very selective about calling in planning applications. We consider it only right that as Parliament has entrusted local planning authorities with the responsibility for day-to-day planning control in their areas, they should, in general, be free to carry out their duties responsibly, with the minimum of interference.
In the written ministerial statement of 6 September 2012, Official Report, column 29WS, Ministers noted that the recovery criteria already include large residential developments. To align this with the call-in process, we stated we would consider carefully the use of call-in for major new settlements with larger than local impact. Consequently, we have resolved to amend the existing call-in indicators (the “Caborn” principles, 16 June 1999, Official Report, column 138W).
The Secretary of State will, in general, only consider the use of his call-in powers if planning issues of more than local importance are involved. Such cases may include, for example, those which in his opinion:
may conflict with national policies on important matters;
may have significant long-term impact on economic growth and meeting housing needs across a wider area than a single local authority;
could have significant effects beyond their immediate locality;
give rise to substantial cross-boundary or national controversy;
raise significant architectural and urban design issues; or
may involve the interests of national security or of foreign Governments. However, each case will continue to be considered on its individual merits. 

Thursday 5 March 2015

Building meeting 26th Feb

Paul Cotter and Fox Governors met with RBKC and EC Harris on 26th February. They confirmed that at parents' request a lead survey of the cottage and toilet block had been organised with Golders. Fox requested details of the type of lead survey to be carried out and RBKC said they would provide these details.
RBKC confirmed that there will be no decant of children at Fox for the enabling works but some partial relocation would be discussed when the phasing of the main works is confirmed with Galliford Try.
Fox has been notified that there will be a meeting to discuss phasing of the main works in the week commencing 16th March, date to be confirmed.

Thursday 19 February 2015

Removal of soil and demolition of cottage

There have been some emails from parents concerned about the works that will commence just before we go on Easter  break. It is right for Parents to question but they should be reassured that at no time will there be any danger to children.

Soilfix did explain at great length during the drop-in sessions their methodology for ensuring that no dust particles or fibres (which includes all materials, including any contaminants like lead) would be permitted to escape during the demolition.  As advised, their methodology involves air-testing to levels well below the required HSE levels, and they have a two stage warning process to prevent exceedances occurring.  This method has ensured that in their entire company history they've never had an exceedance (including on sites far more contaminated than ours). To be clear, an 'exceedance' would still be a long way below safe levels.

The methodology is the same regardless of the contaminant in question, as they ultimately all manifest themselves in the form of dust-fibres.  If you suppress the dust, which Soilfix have demonstrated that they will, then you remove the risk of dust release and thus any risk of exposure to contaminants.

The methodology proposed is all in accordance with current legislation and compliant with guidance from the Health & Safety Executive. Parents who object via the planning portal as one email has encouraged people to do will therefore make no difference to the methodology used but do risk putting the entire project and the wonderful facilities planned for our children, at risk.

Some parents have also asked why we don't schedule this for the summer holidays. This is an 18 month project so it can’t all be done in the summer holidays. The overriding priority throughout the whole project is to keep children absolutely 100% safe. The next priority is to cause the least disruption to learning. There will be other work during the main construction phase, at higher frequency, that needs to happen closer to where children learn, and that is the work that we will try and schedule over the summer holiday. This particular part of the project has to happen as soon as possible in order to make the most of those holidays.

The phasing of the main part of the project is, as Kezia Pearce said in her email to parents, still being finalised with Galliford Try. We will be meeting with them next week and will let parents know when we have details. Some sort of partial relocation has not been completely ruled out but at the moment there are still lots of details to be worked out. 

No one on this project, not the headteacher, the Governors, the Council nor the  contractors would consider for one moment risking the safety of children for any reason. Parents are absolutely right to ask when they need reassurance or would like to know how this is being done. We are working very hard to provide that assurance and to make this process as open as we possibly can.