5th October 2017

Dear Parents and Carers,

I know that Orchards CofE Primary and Nursery School is facing a very challenging situation. Ofsted judged the school to require improvement when they inspected in 2015 and two subsequent monitoring visits have both identified that the school is not improving quickly enough. Outcomes for pupils have been very low for a number of years and although the decision to become an academy and join DEMAT (the Diocese of Ely Multi Academy Trust) was taken some time ago there has been very slow progress towards conversion. As a result of all these issues the Local Authority has decided that an Interim Executive Board (IEB) should replace the Governing Body for the time being.

The purpose of this letter is to introduce the IEB to you but, before I do that, I want to thank the Chair and all of the Governors for their hard work during their time in office and the commitment they have shown to the school.   All Governors give up their own time voluntarily to work in support of the school and I know it is not always an easy task.

An IEB takes on all the functions and responsibilities that the Governing Body had, always keeping a clear focus on rapid school improvement and dealing with the issues that lead to the IEB being formed. An IEB, as the name suggests, is only ever intended as an interim or temporary measure. Most IEBs are in place for less than a year after which the school is returned to the responsibility of a Governing Body.

There are five people on the IEB for Orchards School. My name is Penny Conway; I have been asked to chair this IEB. I am a National Leader of Governance and have been involved with school governance for over 20 years serving on several Governing Bodies and IEBs. I am currently the Chair at Little Paxton Primary School (which is the local village school that my own four children attended) and I also chair the IEB for St Philip’s CofE School in Cambridge and the IEB for Orchard. In addition I am a member of the Temporary Governing Body for the Pathfinder CofE VA School (the new primary school in the new town of Northstowe which has just opened). I am not, and never have been, employed by the Local Authority. I have accepted the role of Chair of the IEB on an unpaid, voluntary basis; my only motivation is, like all school governors, to do my best to ensure that the children at this school receive the good education to which they are entitled in the safe environment we would all expect.

Joining me on the IEB are Belinda Harvey, Betty Hasler, Jacqueline McCamphill and Tony Sharpe.

Belinda has been a Primary School Adviser in Cambridgeshire for several years and is currently a Senior Area Adviser for primary schools within Cambridgeshire Schools Intervention Service.  She has a great deal of experience in supporting and challenging school leaders and governors of schools that needed to make rapid improvements to become good.   Before becoming an Adviser she had many years experience as a Headteacher in very contrasting schools.

Betty may already be known to you as she had recently joined the Governing Body of the school. She is now retired but over the course of her career in education she has been a Headteacher, a Consultant Headteacher and an Adviser. She has worked with many schools in challenging circumstances. She will provide continuity in the governance of the school and ensure that members of the IEB quickly gain a good understanding of the issues the school faces.

Jacqueline is an Assistant Director for DEMAT (the Diocese of Ely Multi Academy Trust). She will be able to ensure that the school now rapidly moves towards joining DEMAT. Her own career has been varied having held many positions of responsibility in both the education sector and in business; she has a sound understanding of good governance in the public and voluntary sectors. She is currently the Vice-Chair of Governors at Bar Hill Community Primary School.

Tony is the Chair of Governors of Teversham Church of England (VA) Primary School, Cambridge. He has worked with other Chairs to improve governance in local schools. Coming from a business background, Tony has a strong interest in finance and budgetary control. He has recently been designated as a National Leader of Governance.

The IEB will, in addition, be supported and advised by Officers from the Local Authority. We will meet at least once a month and the Headteacher and other senior staff will be invited to our meetings. We aim to ensure, as quickly as possible, that the school is compliant with all statutory requirements as well as implementing best practice in all areas. We look to see consistently good teaching across the school to ensure that all children continue to make good progress in their learning.

Our first meeting was held earlier this week. Minutes of our meetings will be available on the school website as soon as is practicable.

As I mentioned earlier, the IEB has all the responsibilities that any Governing Body has including listening and responding to comments, compliments and concerns from parents, carers and staff. If you wish to contact us you can do so through the school office. We hope to organise a drop-in session for parents and carers to meet members of the IEB shortly. I will write to you again about this.

Yours sincerely,

Penny Conway
Chair of the IEB for Orchards CofE VC Primary and Nursery School