Parent Forum minutes 10th November 2017

1. Welcome and introductions
We all introduced ourselves and gave a special welcome to new members of the Forum.

2. Terms of Reference
These need more preparation and considerable time spent on them and will be deferred for discussion to a future meeting.

3. WhatsApp Groups - Guidelines
Due to recent events, the Whatsapp groups are all currently suspended while we clarify the way forward.

We were asked to consider first whether we wish to continue with WhatsApp Groups at all.
Positives
• overwhelming percentage of uses are positive and appropriate
• helps working parents who are not in the playground be involved and in the know
• assists smooth running of the school - clubs, uniforms, 10p etc... etc.. as per summary of uses list on the guideline document
• more helpful than harmful
• can maintain the good and mitigate the risk by robust and comprehensive guidelines

Concerns
• it’s a public forum and can’t be regulated
• there will be mistakes in what people post
• becoming an onerous and worrying task for reps
• the harmful, though a tiny percentage of posts, does enormous damage

Alternatives
• email groups - would encourage more deliberate contributions of serious issues and would be sent only to the admin person - less responsive and useful for the small stuff
• Telegram - an app which is similar to Whatsapp but which is more secure and allows removal of posts by the group admin - requires parents to get new app and poss won’t check it as much as Whatsapp

We voted by a large majority in favour of keeping the WhatsApp groups.

Secondly we were asked to consider what is needed in the guidelines for these groups. Kate will work with Mrs Cohen to revise the draft guidelines document and then bring this back to the forum for further comment and input. The following points were raised for consideration and inclusion in the guidelines:
• Values - statement of values of the school should be included, respect in particular as the foundation of the school ethos
• Clarity and explicit guidance on what is inappropriate - no assumptions can be made
• Clarity of reasons for exclusion
• Concern for the reps who have to administer this that it does not place too great a burden on them
• clear procedure for how inappropriate posts should be handled including, not commenting on the group, reporting, freezing / shutting down groups when/if an incident occurs
• a shorter tolerance for inappropriate use - parents must take responsibility for their phones and what they post
• guidelines to be sent out every term
• aim to frame positively
• keep the guidance simple, clear & minimal
• photos / video - disappointment was expressed about losing this use of the groups, but we do not have permissions for this

*** While the Guidelines are redrafted, the groups remain suspended. We hope to have them back up and running soon ***

Update: Kate and Mrs Cohen are working on the new guidelines as a matter of urgency.

4. Lunches
Significant number of complaints and level of concern from parents across several year groups about the quality & quantity of food available to children at lunchtimes.
e.g. salad sandwiches being offered because other items have run out, children coming home super hungry having only had ‘beans’ or ‘nothing’ for lunch. Lack of hot food. Children requesting packed lunches instead. Reports of staff panicking when food has run out.
Lunches were looked at some years ago as a result of feedback from parents. This seems to be a new problem and PF request that this is looked into as a matter of urgency, particularly as we are coming into the winter months when children need a hot lunch and will learn better with a full stomach.

ACTION - Mrs Cohen to raise with Mr Langford and report back to PF.

Update: Mr Langford is checking the dinner choices, particularly towards the end of service each day. While all children are definitely being given food every day, we are looking to extend the choice. More on this to be shared in the newsletter.

5. Health & Hygiene
• Children in the lower years seem to be sharing plastic cups for drinking water in the classrooms
• only 3 toilets available to the girls in the whole school - there is not enough time to use them in the short breaks sometimes - some children having to hold on - risk to health and personal wellbeing as well as ability to concentrate in class

ACTION - Mrs Cohen to raise with Mr Langford and report back to PF.

Update: Children have individual cups in the classrooms which are washed by the staff. However there is an issue of cups being shared at the water coolers. We are looking into a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly solution to this. Any ideas welcome.

Update: We have struggled to get contractors to quote to get the Y2 girls' toilets open again, though the Y1 and Y5/6 toilets are still available. Realistically we hope to have this problem resolved within the next three weeks. We also have secured funding to renovate the Nursery and Reception toilets, making them attractive and with more appropriate sinks and motion-sensor taps.

6. Requesting leave
Occasions of leave requests which went to the school office not having reached Mr Langford. Worth reminding parents of the proper process for this via the newsletter and WhatsApp Groups.

ACTION - Mrs Cohen to request an item clarifying this process for the newsletter please.
- when Whatsapp groups are up and running again, reps to post this information

Update: This has been clarified in the newsletter. Parents are reminded again that leave in term-time is purely for exceptional reasons.

7. Breakfast club
Some interest again in having a breakfast club at school. We were reminded that this has been raised before and significant work went into providing this by Mr Langford but when it came to it, not enough parents chose to use it and so it didn’t go ahead. This was despite seeking expressions of interest from parents first. If we’d like to take this further, PF would need to collate confirmed levels of interest from parents to present to school.

ACTION - PF to consider the best way to obtain not only expressions of interest but actual commitment to a breakfast club

8. Free Reading
Significant number of parents at the coffee morning raised that they feel their child was put onto free reading too early and would have preferred them to remain on a structured reading tree for longer. It has been brought to teachers on an individual basis but seems a wider concern.

ACTION - Mrs Cohen to discuss with Mrs Nash (Literacy coordinator) and report back to PF.

9. Doors opening on time at drop off
Parents ask that the doors are opened promptly at 8.45am for the main school and 8.50am for nursery - many parents must leave quickly after drop off to get to work, children are given a late mark if they are late and so this should be consistent.

ACTION - Mrs Cohen to ask that staff are mindful of the need for this.

Update: As stated in newsletter, this is appreciated and every effort will be made to ensure times are kept to.

10. Playground changes
Changes to what is allowed in the playground applies to the before and after school times. The big tree was removed due to safety concerns and school would be very glad to hear of ideas and plans for the ‘soil circle’.

ACTION - PF to consider and ask parents for their ideas.
ACTION - Kate to make the new PTA aware of this

AOB

11. Parking & Road Safety
• continued concerns regarding inconsiderate and unsafe parking by a minority of parents.
• Hope Chapel allow us use of the car park out of the goodness of their hearts and all due care must be taken to respect their property and kindness.
• Moseley Hall Hospital - have plans to increase car parking on their site - concerns for school are the increase in traffic flow across the hospital entrance on Alcester Road which is already dangerous for pedestrians.
• much progress was made following a fatality some years ago including LED traffic lights, 20mph zone, zigzags, new signage etc.. but there is more to consider.

ACTIONS
• Passes for The Village car park for morning drop offs - Mrs Cohen to find out from Mr Langford whether there are any passes currently available and if so to ask that these be offered to parents.
• A map for the newsletter may be useful to alert parents to the appropriate places available to park - volunteer for this task needed