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Governing Body

 Governance Statement


Annual Governance Statement for the Governing Body of the Opossum Federation



In accordance with the Government’s requirement for all governing bodies, the 3 core strategic functions of the Opossum Federation’s Governing Body are:

  1. Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;
  2. Holding the Head of School/Executive Head to account for the educational performance of the schools and their pupils;
  3. Overseeing the financial performance of the schools and making sure their money is well spent


Governance arrangements

The Governing Body of the Opossum Federation is comprised of 12 voting members including the Senior Executive Head Teacher. Co-opted governors are appointed by the Governing Body and are people who, in the opinion of the governing body, have the skills required to contribute to the effective governance and success of the schools. On our Governing Body we have seven   Co-opted governors who are members of the local community (including our Chair of Governors who is also a National Leader of Governance), two staff members (including the Senior Executive Headteacher), two parent governors and an LA governor. Members of federation staff, including the Heads of School, attend regularly as observers.

Governing Body members sit on committees, which have been created to consider aspects of school life in detail. The Resources Committee meets regularly to examine aspects of school life relating to finance, human resources and premises. Other committees are formed, as necessary, to address specific school/federation matters, such as complaints or grievances. The full Governing Body meets each half term to review the actions of the committees and to ratify decisions and policies. See page 7,8 & 9 for a list of Governors.

Attendance record of governors

Governors have excellent attendance at meetings and a meeting has never had to be cancelled because it was not “quorate” (the number of governors needed to ensure that legal decisions can be made). See page 10 for details of individual governors’ attendance at meetings.

Our Federation

The Federation was formed in 2014 and now comprises four primary schools. The schools are all maintained, community schools located in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. Newport and Oakhill were recognised as Outstanding Schools in 2013, while Dawlish and Thorpe Hall were acknowledged as Good in recent inspections. Opossum schools recognise and cater to all abilities, celebrate diversity and encourage independent thinking. Staff support each other and work well in partnership to ensure all the pupils in our community receive the best education possible.

The federation is built on three core objectives – enriching lives, unleashing possibilities and building futures; these aims are at the heart of all we do within our family of schools. We strive to ensure that our schools retain their individual identities whilst ensuring that they are reflective of our federation ethos.

The federation benefits from closely located schools - Newport and Dawlish are a short walk apart in the south of the borough, and Thorpe Hall and Oakhill a short distance from each other in the north of the borough. This offers many opportunities for joint staff working and shared learning experiences for the children and staff from neighbouring schools


About the Federation and the work that we have done on our committees and in the governing body




































































































































The Governing Body has had another busy year, focusing on school improvement and promoting excellent achievement for pupils.

The board reviews key data relating to pupil achievement, so that governors can have a clear understanding of progress towards meeting its ambitious targets for all pupils. The board is also concerned about our “vulnerable groups” of children and regularly reviews how the Pupil Premium Grant is being spent by the schools and what impact this has on their outcomes. Further information can be found about the use and impact of the Pupil Premium Grant on the schools’ websites.


Governors conducted link visits to observe the work of the schools in action and to participate in discussions with the schools’ leaders.


Governors and School Leaders are committed to ensuring that all pupils in our diverse community are supported in achieving the greatest possible outcomes across the whole curriculum. The board spent time considering the curriculum to ensure both breadth and balance and implementation across the year groups.


The Federation staff have been reviewing our curriculum offer to ensure it aligns with updated statutory guidance and meets the specific needs of the pupils in our community. We want all our children to experience success and enjoy their learning when at school. Our curriculum, founded on the National Curriculum, has been purposely designed to ensure relevance to our community of learners – building on their experience and broadening their horizons. Programmes of study enable the development of knowledge and skills and understanding within individual subject disciplines whilst promoting learning links, connection and creativity wherever possible. Children are encouraged to learn through enquiry and curiosity, drawing on real-life experiences to develop their skills as well as their knowledge.

Our curriculum is underpinned by the Federation’s core objectives; enriching lives, unleashing possibilities and building futures so that together we can support our young people to lead happy, healthy and successful lives. To support our objectives, during the course of the last 18 months, we have consulted with stakeholders while developing our list of core values which underpin our objectives;

§ Being CARING

The board received reports from school leaders and feedback from pupils and parents, assuring governors of the effectiveness of the curriculum offered across the federation and earlier this year, Dawlish and Newport schools each received a letter from Rt. Hon Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School Standards. The letters congratulate the school communities on their rates of progress .



The federated structure offers the opportunity for our schools to work collaboratively, bringing new ideas to the federation; it also provides opportunities for staff to develop professionally through the sharing of ideas.

Each of the schools within the federation retains their distinct legal identities with regard to such matters as admissions, budget, performance tables and OFSTED inspections.


Key examples of collaborative working include:


Planning Days

As part of our staff professional development and federation working, teachers from across the schools have met half termly for their year group planning session. Teachers worked collaboratively to plan exciting units of learning for the following half term. Curriculum pedagogy and research relating to teaching and learning practices was discussed and implemented to further develop learning within the classroom.


Values Consultation

In the Autumn term, the governors and school leadership teams worked on developing the Opossum Federation Values framework. We involved pupils and parents every step of the way through input and consultation activities, usually at open evening events. We are pleased to say that the federation’s key values were agreed and that these have been worked into the new Home School Agreement, which received a very positive response in the open evening parent consultation. The values, as agreed by our entire federation community, will form the cornerstone of all that we do. Thank you for your contribution to developing the framework and for supporting this important work.


Prefect Training

Prefects from all four schools came together for the first time this year to participate in a joint training session; they found it very inspiring. The session included learning how to use body language to radiate confidence and how being a role model can help inspire others, using a neat and tidy uniform as an example.
A part of the script from the theatre show ‘Wicked’ was acted out in small groups, helping the prefects to learn how to deal with different personalities. They also learnt the importance of leading by example, using teamwork and the ‘Opossum Values’.

At first we were really nervous however, towards the end we found that we were enjoying ourselves and that there were lots of benefits of being a Prefect.” (Jonathan and Rihana, Thorpe Hall)


Pupil Parliament

It is a priority for Governors to ensure that our children have the opportunity to have their voices and opinions heard and one of the most effective ways to do this is through Pupil Parliament. It promotes pupil leadership opportunities, enabling children to develop valuable communication, organisation and debating skills and grow into confident adults. This structure is an ideal opportunity for our children to be actively involved in the way that the school is run and to explore the British value of Democracy. It provides opportunities for pupils to communicate their opinions as well as influence the decisions that are made on their behalf.  Pupils relish the opportunity to become a greater part of school life and enjoy making their voices heard.

This year the federation Pupil Parliament has grown in strength since its inception in 2018 with representatives from each school leading projects which impact our federation and wider communities beyond their own school gates. With the General Election having taken place at the end of last year, it is important that the pupils learn about the role of democracy in our society and how they can have a voice in their futures through engaging in the democratic process within our own federation.


Reading Project

Year 6 staff have been involved in a project this year which has been designed to help children become more fluent readers. The strategies focus on phrasing, expression and comprehension which, alongside secure phonics skills, which helps us to develop as fluent readers. The progress and feedback from the children who have been involved in the project has been really positive.
The fluency reading has helped me understand what I am reading and I have been able to apply this skill in my maths and literacy, like my reasoning, and checking if my work makes sense’. Year 6 pupil


UFA and ESOL Parent Courses

The adult learning courses continued this year. Twelve parents/carers from Dawlish and Newport improved their English language skills by attending an eight week ESOL class. They grew in confidence as they learnt grammatical rules and practised their conversational skills in the group. 'This was a great course. My English improved and I feel more confident when speaking English inside. Thank- you.' (Newport parent).

Mary Neilson, Federation Governor, ran the 12th UFA Helping My Child to Learn Course. The course focuses on how children learn, top tips for the brain, emotional health and fun strategies to help children learn at home. Eight families from across Newport and Dawlish successfully completed the five week course and were welcomed to a special assembly where they were presented with their certificates. 'This is the best course I have ever attended. It was really great talking with other mum's and sharing ideas. I have changed our after school routine because of what was said on the course. I would highly recommend this course to all parents and carers.' (Newport parent). Mary also ran a spring term course at both Dawlish (for Dawlish and Newport parents) and Thorpe Hall (for Oakhill and Thorpe Hall parents).


Resources Committee

The Resources Committee reviewed the maintenance and development of all our school premises and made decisions about how the schools should use their budget.

After careful consideration and review the Resources Committee and Full Governing Body approved the 2020-2021 budget plans, including our SEN dedicated expenditure for Dawlish, Newport, Oakhill and Thorpe Hall Primary schools. We are pleased to report, that due to collaborative working across the Federation, including a central team managing finance and Human Resources, we have achieved best value and have set a balanced budget for 2020-2021.

Over the course of the year a number of policies were reviewed and ratified by the governing body, according to its regular cycle of business.

  • Scheme of Delegation
  • Financial Regulations
  • Statement of Internal Control
  • Authorised signatories
  • Debt Recovery Plan
  • Debit Card Policy
  • DBS Policy
  • Grievance Procedure
  • Leave of Absence Policy
  • Staff Code of Conduct
  • Complaints Procedure
  • Admissions Arrangements
  • Health and Safety Policy
  • Staff Discipline and Dismissal Procedure
  • Attendance and Punctuality Procedures
  • Equality Information and Objectives and policy
  • Capability Procedure
  • Data Protection Policy (and GDPR requirements)
  • Performance Management for Support Staff
  • Sickness Absence Management Procedure
  • SEN Policy
  • SEND Information Report
  • Supporting Pupils with Medical Conditions Policy
  • Online Safety Protocol
  • Safeguarding
  • Teacher Appraisal
  • Pay Policy
  • Paternity Leave Procedure
  • Charging and Remissions Policy
  • Lettings Policy
  • Induction Policy
  • Whistleblowing Policy
  • Fire Emergency Plan
  • Probation Procedure
  • Shared Parental Leave Procedure
  • Collective Act of Worship Procedure
  • EYFS
  • Behaviour Principles Written Statement
  • Freedom of Information
  • Governors’ Allowances
  • Maternity Procedure
  • Positive Behaviour Policy
  • Recruitment & Selection Policy
  • Reorganisation and Redundancy
  • Zero Tolerance Policy
  • Social Media Policy



We thank parents/carers for your support with regard to the Attendance Policy. As you are aware, due to Government legislation, schools are unable to authorise term time holidays; the Governing Body recognises the inconvenience that this may cause for some parents. We are very pleased that attendance figures at the schools have improved this year however it remains an area of concern as too many pupils are persistently absent in each school, with attendance below the 90% threshold. Ensuring that all the children in our care receive their full entitlement to education, through good attendance (at least 96%), remains a priority for the governing board. Governors fully support school leaders’ actions to improve attendance, which include: referral for fixed penalty notices, meetings with individual parents, pupil rewards for good attendance and links with partner agencies such as Early Help and School Nurses. 


Minutes of Governing Body and Committee meetings are public documents – parents may contact the school office if they would like to see any of the minutes of the meetings.


The governing body

You can see the full list of governors and their attendance at meetings on the Governors’ page of the school websites.


We thank all for the support you have shown as we all adjust to the new reality we currently face; we understand the impact that changes to daily routines have had and are continuing to have, in many homes.


Whilst we faced numerous challenges as a society during the period of lockdown and beyond, it is important that we do all we can to remain positive and take advantage of the unprecedented opportunity most of us now have to take life a little more slowly, connect with family and friends using technology and to spend quality time with the family members in our homes.


Over the last months and weeks of the academic year, we have provided learning packs for pupils in each year group; we hope these have been helpful for you in maintaining a learning routine and reinforcing key skills. We were mindful of the possible pressure on IT equipment and broadband access in many homes so included a number of activities and suggestions that you can do which do not rely on the internet. These develop creativity and learning in a wide range of aspects and areas, such as craft activities and completing household chores.


The Federation Staff were and are very pleased to be able to support families who meet the criteria for critical key working by accommodating their children alongside vulnerable pupils at school all through this period of time. We have been continuously open, including during school and bank holidays to provide care to vulnerable and key workers’ children. I wish to express sincere thanks to all those staff who have made this possible.


After receiving confirmation from the Local Authority that we could go ahead with our wider reopening, we were pleased to welcome pupils from Years R, 1 and 6 in all schools. We are delighted to report that all went according to plan and across all settings we have received positive feedback from both pupils and staff. Due to this success and following a review of the risk assessments, we were delighted to be able to open to all year groups (rising Years 1-6) for the final 2 weeks of term; this enabled all pupils to have the opportunity to re-connect with their friends, meet their new teacher and prepare for the coming year. Thank you to all who have contributed to our wider reopening.

We are extremely grateful to the staff who volunteered to supervise the children during the lockdown period to maintain this provision. We are sure you will join us in extending our sincere thanks to all key workers – those who are treating our ill and vulnerable community members and those who are working hard to keep society functioning in various ways such as by providing food, making essential deliveries or cleaning services for example. Thank you!

We know that there are families in our Opossum community who have been directly affected by this virus and are experiencing deep anxiety or bereavement – our thoughts are with you and hopefully, you have been able to access the help you may have needed through the networks the Federation has signposted you to.

Sincere best wishes and keep well, from the Opossum Governing Body