Board mins 30 09 10

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                               HELD 30th SEPTEMBER 2010

Present:       Prof. P M Collins - Chair (PMC) from item 30/09/10/6, Mrs. L Beaumont (LB),
               G Casson (GC), Rev. Preb. D B Crowhurst (DBC), Mrs. J W Dakin (JWD),
               Dr. G Davies (GD), M Lee (ML), Mrs. E McQueen (EMcQ) from the presentation,
               Mrs. G P Richards (GPR), Ms. E E Thomas (EET),
               Mrs. M Bevan Thomas (MBT) to item 30/09/10/12.2, A C Tyley (ACT),
               F B Udale (FBU), Cllr. A Walpole (AW), J P Ward (JPW).
               Attendance: 88.24%

In             Skills Funding Agency: Ms. K Thorneywork (KT), Ms. V Tomlinson (VT).
Attendance     Governor Designate: V Croxson (VC)
               Senior Leadership Team: P H May (PHM), J E A Parry (JEAP),
                                        Mrs. S Pipe (SP), Ms. B Steadman (BS).
               Clerk: W E Hitchen

               The meeting was preceded by a tour of Caradoc and the Collins Engineering Centre led
               by JEAP.

               JPW, Vice Chair, assumed the Chair and explained that the Chair was delayed by a
               prior commitment and would join the meeting shortly. He then gave a warm welcome
               to KT and VT representing the Skills Funding Agency and to VC attending the meeting
               as an observer prior to taking on the role of Governor.

30/09/10/1     Apologies
               Dr. A G Harris (AGH), R Hedge (RH).

30/09/10/2     Declarations of Interest

30/09/10/3     Minutes of 8th July 2010 (Document A)
               The minutes were approved as a true and accurate record and signed by the Chair.

30/09/10/4     Matters Arising (Document B)
               8/07/10/7 Draft Risk Register 2010-11
               Pensions Provision to be considered by the next meeting of the Finance & Resources
               Committee for inclusion in Risk Register.
               8/07/10/8 Strategic Review
               Agenda item 30/09/10/7

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               8/07/10/10 Audit & Risk Management Committee
               BS thanked the Finance & Information Technology Teams for work on Tracking
               8/07/10/11.2 Ofsted Report
               PHM confirmed that the Action Plan would be reported to Quality & Standards
               8/07/10/11.3 Employer Responsive Strategy
               JEAP said it would be updated to reflect government changes.
               8/07/10/13.1 Mentoring
               DBC to mentor ML.
               Audit Questionnaire
               To be adopted by Audit & Risk Management Committee.
               Annual Board Performance Questionnaire
               Chair to agree possible additional questions.
               8/07/10/13.2 Board Vacancies

30/09/10/5     Principal’s Report (Document C)
                ACT took members through his report making reference to the following items:
               Recruitment: The shortfall is largely comprised of adult students partly as a response
               to the tougher line being taken with regard to fees. The key to successful recruitment
               remains the 16-18 group. AS recruitment is slightly below target, partially offset by
               new courses recruiting well. A full report will be made to Finance & Resources and           ACT
               Quality & Standards Committees.
               Curriculum: The Principal & Chief Executive said that an action plan was being
               implemented for AS. Two new Curriculum Area Leaders had been appointed and were
               settling in well. They would be subject to tighter tracking and periodic observation.
               (PMC arrived 6.05pm)
               Apprenticeships: The Principal & Chief Executive said he was more confident that
               targets would be met.
               Estates: Governors who had taken part in the tour earlier would have seen that the
               Collins Engineering Centre still required some tidying, but was an impressive addition
               to the College’s facilities.
               Finance: A small operating surplus is expected for 2009-10. The College is one of 75
               chosen for an external audit of its data. This is scheduled in the coming weeks.
               Dr. Tony Harris: Unfortunately, Tony was unable to attend the Board due to ill health
               and the Principal & Chief Executive said another opportunity would be sought to              PCM/
               acknowledge the huge debt the College owes to Tony for his many valuable years of            ACT
               service to the College.
               DBC asked about the Principal & Chief Executive’s August report in respect of the
               examination results. ACT said that new specifications for some A level subjects;
               together with new staff being brought in at short notice in some areas had caused
               difficulties. The College typically only has a single subject specialist in each area, but
               the staffing issues had been addressed and replacement staff expected to bring about
               The Vice Chair thanked JEAP for conducting the tour of the new buildings and said he
               found them very impressive.
               Members received and noted the report.

               JW then handed the Chair over to PCM

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  Presentation by the Skills Funding Agency - Val Tomlinson and Kim
  KT said she would present the general setting and VT would deal specifically with the
  likely impact on the College.
  KT told members that the Skills Funding Agency had overall stewardship for Further
  Education. Virement would be allowed between segments of the adult education
  budgets with the exception of Train2Gain. That will be capped at the initial amount
  granted for 2010-11.
  KT then addressed the creation of Local Enterprise Partnerships. Shropshire,
  Herefordshire and Telford & Wrekin will form a single partnership. KT also stressed
  that in future there will be no exceptional financial support available for colleges in
  financial difficulties. However, she assured members that the student numbers at 16-19
  for 2010-11 will be the basis for the funding allocation for 2011-12. The rate,
  however, is likely to be reduced. On the subject of Higher Education, KT reminded
  members that David Willetts, Minister of state (universities and science), is keen to
  increase the amount of Higher Education in Further Education colleges.
  Referring to future opportunities, KT said that no Skills Funding Agency contracts
  would be awarded below £500,000 in 2011-12, increasing annually to £2M in 2014-15.
  Very small private providers will therefore be obliged to seek larger partners such as
  Further Education colleges. The small private sector contractors have a good record of
  delivering apprenticeships and this could be advantageous to both parties.
  In respect of mergers, KT said that the Skills Funding Agency has no plan regarding
  the number of Further Education colleges it would wish to see, but it will be essential
  for each college to balance its books and deliver to its community. If colleges fall into
  deficit then the Agency will intervene and be more proactive.
  JPW suggested that removing much of the red tape that hinders colleges would enable
  them to reduce staffing levels. KT said she would take the point back, but suggested
  that shared services (e.g. Human Resources, management information systems etc) for
  say five colleges could be another means of reducing costs.
  The Chair reminded KT that the Board had investigated a merger with S-CAT
  unsuccessfully. A Pan-Shropshire college would fail without an external driving force
  due to self-interests and competition between the individual colleges. The Chair also
  pointed out that there is no financial support for such a move now. PMC added that
  she considered the proposals far too formulaic and mechanistic and likely to drive some
  colleges out of business. KT responded that the new funding methodology is currently
  available for consultation on the Department for Business Innovation & Skills website
  (http://www.Department for Business Innovation &
  The Chair then referred to Shropshire Council as a new partner and one which is also
  facing cuts in its funding. Consequently, the Council is unlikely to have time to devote
  great attention to Colleges at present.
  AW turned to the Local Enterprise Partnerships saying that all colleges could not be
  represented individually. The Principal & Chief Executive pointed out that GD is
  Chairman of the Shropshire Business Board and Further Education colleges are
  represented on the Shropshire Business Board by the Principal of S-CAT.
  (EMcQ arrived at 6.45pm)
  GD said that the Local Enterprise Partnership is not very advanced as yet. The Shadow
  Board met a week ago for the first time, but no master plan is available.
  VT then made her presentation to the members beginning that she had agreed with the
  Principal & Chief Executive that the initial graph was inaccurate in respect of the

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               College’s data. The penultimate slide is based on the 2008-09 accounts.
               JPW said that members needed to receive the outcome of the Spending Review on 20th
               October before holding the next Strategic Review meeting. He warned that there is a
               danger of cutting College expenditure to the point where it can no longer deliver and
               remain viable. He suggested that members found collaboration more acceptable than
               merger. KT responded saying she was aware that the College had surmounted previous
               difficulties only to face the prospect of yet more cuts in funding. However, she
               regarded the College as being well-managed now and therefore better able to cope.
               She suggested that if merger is not acceptable, then a federal structure may offer an
               alternative solution. JPW asked if 62% of colleges are deemed inadequate what action
               would be taken. KT said that Skills Funding Agency did not wish to use statutory
               VC wished to see the evidence that sharing services through Federated status is
               successful. KT referred to the KPMG report, but said that Federation is not a panacea.
               She also mentioned “Models for Success” (
               VC again asked that the evidence be sent to members. KT said she would forward the
               evidence of shared services and reminded members that Federal status means a single
               Governing Body with separate campuses.
               The Chair said that both KT and VT had seemed uncertain in their evidence due to the
               variety of accounting methodologies adopted by different colleges. The Chair
               suggested that colleges should be required to follow a single approach. VT cited the
               example of Learning Support saying that some colleges treat the cost as Teaching Staff
               and others as Business Support. She added that the total pay bill would be accurate.
               PMC again urged the adoption of a single set of rules.
               The Chair then thanked KT and VT for their presentation, which she said had been
               both fair and helpful. The Principal & Chief Executive agreed, and noted that when
               using benchmarking, comparability of data is often problematic. Overall, he agreed
               with the Skills Funding Agency’s rating of the College’s financial health as
               “satisfactory” but with weak working capital. The issue will be with the way the
               headline cuts translate down to individual college level. He added that there is no
               bridging finance available to offset the upfront cost of mitigating actions. KT said
               there is £15M set aside nationally for shared services and that the Skills Funding
               Agency will probably invite proposals.
               (KT and VT left the meeting at 7.15pm)

30/09/10/6     Risk Register & Monitoring Report 2010-2011 (Document D)
               BS said she had addressed the seven red risks of 47 in total in her summary paper:
               Risk 6 Failure to meet learner responsive recruitment and funding targets: Red
               pending the final recruitment figures for 2010-11 as the target is tough. The following
               actions have been put in place:
                    Continual monitoring of recruitment
                    Marketing activity to increase awareness and recruitment
                    Ensure quality provision to retain students
               Risk 9 Impact of public funding cuts on College funding: Red as the Spending
               Review is not due until 20th October and the College is uncertain of its impact. The
               following actions have been agreed:
                    Increased awareness among staff of savings to be made
                    Efficiency review SLT meetings taking place to review all areas and plan for
                       the 25% reduction

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                    All expenditure under review and all “nice to have” type expenditure stopped
               Risk 14 Failure to secure capital receipts from asset disposals (former animal care
               barns): Red. A new risk added to reflect its importance to the College’s cash flow.
               Actions to manage the risk:
                    For sale with Berry’s, some interest generated
                    Design changed and amendment yet to be approved
               Risk 26 Loss of HE partner support or funding for HE courses due to funding cuts:
               Red following the withdrawal of Harper Adams University College support.
               Mitigating actions:
                    Manage relationship with other partners to ensure retention of provision
                    Control the exit of this provision after 2010/11
               Risk 30 Failure to enhance quality assurance for PCDL including RARPA: Red
               following Ofsted’s rating as Unsatisfactory. Actions implemented:
                    Lesson observer appointed
                    All lessons/tutors to be observed in term 1
                    Staff development activities have taken place
               Risk 31 Failure to engage staff in support of quality improvement activity: Red
               pending the availability of evidence to the contrary. Actions:
                    OFSTED action plan in place and being completed
                    Principal’s staff address focused on the quality improvements needed
                    Low performing areas receiving a high degree of support from Deputy Principal
                        to ensure guidance given and improvements made
                    New SAR process in place
               Risk 46 Impact of changes in government policy on funding priorities and provision:
               Red due to the uncertainty and the scale of the impact of potential funding priority
               changes. Actions:
                    SLT Efficiency review meetings.
               GC raised a question regarding Risk 8: Failure to maintain the financial health of the
               College: GC referred to the Draft Strategic Plan (agenda item 30/09/10/7). The
               Principal & Chief Executive said the plan attempts to look ahead and anticipate cuts.
               Proposed: GC; Seconded: FBU; Agreed: nem con to change Risk 8 to ‘Red’.                     BS
               DBC queried Risk 10 Failure to provide sufficient working capital to meet current
               liabilities: JPW reminded him that overdraft facilities are put in place to meet
               obligations. Members agreed to leave this risk as ‘Amber’ for the time being.
               FBU suggested that Risk 5 Failure to achieve budget targets for the College Farm:
               Amber should be ‘Red’. BS said that the Farm had about broken even for 2009-10.
               The Chair said she was content to leave the issue of grading this risk to the Farm         Clerk
               Advisory Committee. FBU said the new Farm Manager would need support and added             /FBU
               that professional advice suggested that the Farm should be earning an additional £400
               per cow, £80,000 in total.
               Subject to the amendment to Risk 8, Members approved the Risk Register.

30/09/10/7     Report of the Strategic Review Working Party (Document E)
                The Chair expressed her thanks to the Working Party. The Principal & Chief
               Executive said it had been difficult drafting a plan for the longer term in light of the
               uncertainty regarding funding and priorities. He added that a Staff Development Day
               would be held on 22nd October with a view to engaging staff commitment to the plan, if
               members approved the draft. The Principal & Chief Executive said he had received
               comments from AGH particularly suggesting the inclusion of Country Landowners in

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               the list of agencies (2.2 Employer Responsiveness; 2.3 Partnerships). ACT invited
               comments from members or by email later.
               GD thought it a very good plan given the uncertainty of funding. DBC agreed. GC
               said the key would be to use it to identify the necessary actions and implement them.
               JPW said it was the first time in his 10 years as a Governor that the College had
               planned its future in such depth and expressed his thanks to the Chair and the Principal
               & Chief Executive. He saw the plan as a living document to be continually addressed.
               AW referred to the meeting he and the Principal & Chief Executive had held with the
               Leader of Shropshire Council and its Chief Executive. He concluded that they were
               keen to engage in further discussions with the College. The Chair thanked AW for
               facilitating the meeting.
               Proposed: JPW; Seconded: GPR; Agreed: nem con to approve the Strategic Plan.

30/09/10/8     Short Term Borrowing Consent (Document F)
                BS told members that the phasing of core funding income would leave a period of two
               months when the College would need an overdraft facility of up to £750,000. As this
               sum exceeds 5% of College income, the approval of the Skills Funding Agency is
               required. She added that the request had been supported by the College’s Account
               Manager at Barclays Bank. JPW said he would like to see to see a full 12 months cash
               flow statement and BS said she would present one to the next meeting of the Finance &        BS
               Resources Committee. Notwithstanding this, JPW added that he supported the request.
                          1. The Corporation of Walford & North Shropshire College accepts
                              the borrowing facility offered by Barclays Bank PLC as set out in
                              the facility letters, the terms and conditions of which have been
                              exhibited to and accepted by the Board.

                           2. The acceptance of the facility is considered to be in the best interest
                              of and to the advantage of and further benefit of the College

                           3. Proposed: JPW; Seconded: GD; Agreed: nem con to approve the
                              signing by the Principal & Chief Executive and Director of Finance
                              of the overdraft facility for up to £575,000 on behalf of the College       ACT/
                              and to bind the College to the terms and conditions stated therein           BS

                           4. Proposed: JW; Seconded: GD; Agreed: nem con subject to formal
                              approval from the Skills Funding Agency to approve the signing by           ACT/
                              the Principal & Chief Executive and Director of Finance of the               BS
                              overdraft facility for up to £750,000 on behalf of the College and to
                              bind the College to the terms and conditions stated therein

                           5. The Corporation authorises the Bank to accept instructions and
                              confirmations in connection with the facility signed in accordance
                              with the Bank’s signing mandate, current from time to time.

30/09/10/9     Items for approval from Audit & Risk Management Committee
                  1. ICT Services Business Continuity Plan (Document G)
                      DBC said this plan had been approved by the Audit & Risk Management
                      Committee at its meeting in June and covers the necessary actions in the event
                      of an emergency. JPW said he was content subject to all contact details being

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                       up to date.
                       Proposed: DBC; Seconded: JPW; Agreed: nem con to approve the ICT
                       Services Business Continuity Plan.
                       The Chair said she was pleased to note the Plan had been subject to an impact

30/09/10/10     Items for approval from Finance & Resources Committee:
                   1. Grievance Policy (Document H)
                   2. Redundancy Policy & Procedures (Document I)
                   3. Capability Policy & Procedures (Document I2)
                       SP said all the Policies and Procedure documents listed would be subjected to       SP
                       an impact assessment to be noted on their cover sheet together with an index
                       and the date for their next review.
                       AW said the Capability Procedure should not dilute the role of the Line
                       Manager and GC agreed that the Line Manager is usually the first line of
                       defence. SP agreed to redraft this section in liaison with AW and GC.            SP/
                       Proposed: GC; Seconded: AW; Agreed: nem con to approve:                          AW/
                       1. Grievance Policy                                                              GC
                       2. Redundancy Policy & Procedures
                       3. Capability Policy & Procedures, subject to the foregoing comments.

30/09/10/11     Items for approval from Quality & Standards Committee:
                   1. Functional Skills Policy (Document J)
                       PHM said an impact assessment would be added to this document, which would       PHM
                       be reviewed annually because of rapid changes.
                       Subject to the foregoing comments, Proposed: FBU; Seconded: GC;
                       Agreed: nem con to approve the Functional Skills Policy.

30/09/10/12     Governance Matters:
                  1. Link Governor’s Report on Residential Accommodation
                      (Document K)
                      JWD paid tribute to the work being done by Emlyn Murr (Head Warden) and           JEAP
                      his excellent ideas for income generation. She thought improvements needed to
                      be done to Walford Club area. The Chair suggested a small working party
                      comprising Lucy Evans (Marketing Manager), Emlyn Murr, JWD and JEAP be
                      The Principal & Chief Executive said it was hoped to invite a Royal visitor to
                      officially open Caradoc (and the Collins Engineering Centre) in the Spring.
                      LB commented that the ‘Club’ posed issues regarding its use by Residential        ML
                      students in the evenings, but extending opening hours to the daytime would
                      require supervision. ML added that it would be a bonus to have it opened in the
                      daytime, but it might face a risk of vandalism. The Chair suggested that ML        All
                      might join the working party, but he asked to have time to consider the           Clerk
                      suggestion. (ML has subsequently agreed to put the matter to the Students’
                      Council to canvass views and nominate someone to represent the student body).
                      JWD thought that the students would appreciate good facilities.
                      The Chair thanked JWD for her report and reminded other Members of the need
                      to liaise with their allocated departments. The Clerk said he would remind         BS
                      middle management at their next meeting.                                          WEH
                      Members received and noted the report.

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                    2. Refreshments
                       Members debated the issue and requested further details of the costs involved.
                       In principle they asked the Clerk to consider scope to reduce costs by 50%

                       (MBT left the meeting at 7.55pm)                                                  DBC

                    3. Self Assessment Report Validation Panel
                       PHM told members that the Teaching Review Panel would meet on Wednesday
                       10th November 2010 and invited Governor representation. DBC said he would
                       attend. PHM added that the Business Support Review Panel would meet in
                       March 2011.

30/09/10/13     Any Other Business
                      1. Mobile Learning Award
                         PHM told members that the College had won the award and a cheque for
                         £20,000. Chris Jones (Head of the School of Land Based Studies) and Paul
                         O’Hagan (Countryside & Conservation Lecturer) had represented the
                         College at the ceremony in London at which they had been presented with a
                         plaque and booklet marking the excellent use of mobile learning facilities at
                         the College. Members expressed their pleasure and asked the Clerk to write      Clerk
                         to CJ and PO’H accordingly.

30/09/10/14     Date of Next Meeting:
                Thursday 9th December 2010

              There being no further ordinary business, the meeting adjourned to consider the
              confidential agenda at 8.00pm

              Chair:……………………………………………… Date:…………………………

              Corp’n/Board/2010-11                                                          Mins 30-09-10

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