29 November 2019

Nigel Stapleton sends letter to parents/carers recognising "unsettling situation"

This was sent on 29 November 2019:

"Dear Parents/Carers,

The LGC fully recognises the unsettling situation that the whole Ashley School community are experiencing following the resignation of Mr Dunne. Some people have responded with strong emotions, which is to be understood given all that Mr Dunne has contributed to the school over the past 18 years.

We would like to assure parents that despite all that has been taking place, the staff have been continuing to deliver the best education possible for the Ashley children. They are finding the situation very stressful and it is requiring them to work much longer hours. For this, the LGC members are extremely grateful. We have played a significant part in supporting the leadership team in trying to maintain a “business as usual” approach.

We are seeking to achieve an outcome where all parents, staff and LGC members are working collaboratively towards a common objective: to do our very best for all the Ashley children. We would like to ask all parents, at all times, to be respectful to staff and LGC members. In doing so they will be modelling the value the children have been learning this term of being “respectful”.

Over the past few weeks several parents have asked to see the LGC minutes. To this end, the LGC at its meeting last Thursday week decided that:

- Part 1 of the termly LGC’s for the remainder of this academic year should be “open”
meetings. At all schools, the LGC meetings are always in two parts: Part 2 deals with confidential matters and is restricted just to LGC members.

- the LGC will accelerate one of the recommendations from a discussion paper on parent engagement that had been prepared over the summer. We will quickly set up an Ashley Parent Partnership (APP). We will shortly issue, for you to give us feedback, the proposed terms of reference and membership structure of the APP. Its key objective will be to provide a forum through which the views of a representative group of parents can be regularly and clearly heard by the senior leadership team and considered more effectively at our LGC meetings. Please note that the APP is to be complementary to the FOA and will not assume authority over the activities organised by the FOA to the benefit of the school.

- as a one-off exercise, reflecting the concerns of the whole parent community at this difficult time, we are attaching to this letter a complete set of minutes for Part 1 of the LGC meeting held last Thursday evening. The only redactions that have been made are when the discussions were about particular staff members or groups of staff, whose privacy we must respect.

- for future LGC meetings we will make sure that within ten working days of the meeting all parents receive a summary of the key issues discussed and of the decisions made by the LGC during Part 1 of their meetings. The full set of Part 1 minutes will be available (in redacted form) to any parent on request, after they have been approved by the LGC.

You will find some of the terminology adopted at the Part 1 meeting to be unfamiliar. So does any new LGC member for their first two or three meetings! Please bear with us: as soon as possible we will prepare a glossary to help you in interpreting the minutes.

Because of other pressures on their time neither the staff nor LGC members will be able to answer any questions you might have from reading these Part 1 minutes. However, we would be pleased to receive any feedback by e mail to governors@ashley.surrey.sch.uk.

You will be hearing more from the senior leadership team over the coming weeks as they begin to roll out the initiatives that they are discussing with the LGC members. We all hope that these difficulties that we have been encountering over recent weeks can be addressed as quickly as possible.
We owe it to our children that the entire Ashley community should pull together and respond to the steps being taken by Jackie Stevens and her fantastic staff to get all these differences behind us as soon as possible. Please be assured that this will be the LGC’s absolute focus between now and the end of this term.

Yours faithfully

Nigel Stapleton

On behalf of the members of the Ashley School Local Governing Committee"

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