National Middle Schools’ Forum Newsletter

Minutes of the Steering Committee Meeting held on 7th November 2012

National Middle Schools’ Forum


Minutes of the Steering Committee Meeting held on 7th November 2012

1 Present

Phil Hill (Somerset), John Kime (Staffs), Zoe Linington (Herts), David Doubtfire (Worcs), Julie Michael (Herts), Iain Clarke (Dorset), Caroline McGuckian (C. Beds), Nigel Wyatt (Associate Officer).

2. Apologies

Apologies were received from Paul Hugall (Newcastle), Laura Flitton (Herts), Mark Walker (Somerset), Mark Duke (Bedford)

3. Date of next meeting

It was agreed to change the date of the next steering committee meeting to Wednesday 13th March, 2013.

4. Minutes

The minutes of the last meeting in 12th June 2012 were approved

Accuracy – page 3 – should read ‘Cambs – Gamlingay Middle School’

5. Matters Arising


No maters arising

. Treasurer’s Report

The Treasurer reported that the accounts stood as follows:

Conference – draft accounts show a possible profit of £4790, although there a number of small issues still to resolve with the hotel invoice. This is an excellent outcome.

Thanks are due to Lesley Judge for the very efficient way in which she has managed the bookings for the Conference this year.

The accounts show a very healthy total of £19, 145.13 – but there are a number of outstanding invoices from the conference hotel , Greneway Middle school and the Executive Officer

Business Account:    £2418.82

Community Account:  £16, 726.31

Once outstanding invoices have been paid, and all the conference delegates have paid this would suggest a balance remaining of £9,255.

Signatories for the Forum bank accounts with HSBC – arrangements are in hand to change the signatories as agreed at our last meeting:

 - signatories for the accounts should be any two from the following four:

·         Phil Hill, Chairman

·         Zoe Linington, Treasurer

·         Laura Flitton, Committee member

·         Lesley Judge, Administrator

It was agreed at the AGM to increase member subscriptions to £100.


Nigel Wyatt to discuss with Sue Kennedy the future of the administration of the Forum business.


Nigel Wyatt to arrange for the signatories for the Forum accounts to be amended.


6. Executive Officer's report

Support for local associations:


Suffolk – NW attended a governors meeting at Bacton Middle School to offer Forum support and to advise on ways in which the governors might seek to resist plans for reorganisation. NW has written a booklet, Middle Schools Reconsidered, to provide current evidence and data in support of their case.

Kirklees – NW has offered support to two middle schools in Kirklees threatened by plans announced by their High school to change its age range now that it is an academy. NW has written to the local MP as well as the leader of the Kirklees council.


Middle School Funding – A head from Somerset has written to raise his concern about the way in which the introduction of the new funding formula for schools – many schools in the county will be affected. It was agreed to send out a simple survey to all middle schools to gather information and assess the extent of the issues, before considering our next steps.

Benchmarking – The KS3 benchmarking data for 2012 has been sent to all contributing schools and made available via the website. It was agreed to repeat this in 2013 and to conduct a pilot of a similar system for the analysis of intake data – based on the use of optional Year 4 test taken at the start of Year 5 – and to promote the use of external; marking.

Lord Baker and Edge Foundation – Lord Baker’s book, with contributions from Nigel Wyatt and David Brandon- Bravo, is currently being advertised and will be launched in the new year. Nigel Wyatt will liaise with David Harbourne later in November regarding opportunities to promote middle schools through launch events.

Ofsted – the members were pleased that the additional guidance to inspectors has now been incorporated into the new Inspection Framework from September 2012. Gill Jones has offered to collaborate in mounting day conferences in the New Year with a focus on teaching and learning and this was welcomed by members.

Routes to QTS for middle years and Website – it was agreed to explore routes to QTS for middle years or in middle school settings – and then to update the relevant page on Forum website as part a general refresh of the website to bring it up to date.


NW to continue to offer full support to the schools in Suffolk and Kirklees as a matter of priority.


NW to conduct a survey of all middle schools to collect evidence about the effects on middle schools of the introduction of the new simplified funding formula.


NW to conduct a pilot for benchmarking of intake data for Year 5 based on the use of the optional Year 4 SAT papers – inviting schools who have used this test this year to contribute their data.


NW to plan three day conferences in conjunction with Gill Jones to be held after the February half term in London, Bromsgrove and Northumberland.


7. Conference 2012

Members have received very warm and positive comments about the recent conference which, it was felt, provided a good balance of practical activity and inspiration. It was felt that the decision to have a late lunch as the conclusion to the conference was the right one.

Next year we should consider managing the Sunday night bookings ourselves after a number of problems and some confusion at the hotel

8. Plans for conference 2013

It was agreed to return to the Stratford Manor Hotel for our conference next year.

Dates: Monday 21st October to Tuesday 22nd October 2013

Discussions about a possible theme and contributors will begin in the New Year.


Nigel Wyatt to book the hotel for the agreed dates.


9. Development Priorities for 2013

The following priorities were agreed for the coming year after consideration of suggestions from the conference and recent developments:

1) Support for local schools and associations – particularly where they are facing reorganisation proposals.

2) Benchmarking – the repeat the analysis of KS3 data in 2013 and to pilot the collection and analysis of intake data.

3) Middle School Funding – to collect evidence about the effects of the new funding arrangements on middle schools and consider steps the Forum can then take.

4) Build links with external agencies – to continue to work with Ofsted in planning for three day conferences next year.

5) Services to members – to update and refresh the look of the Forum website.

6) Routes to QTS - Explore the availability of routes to QTS for middle years or in the context of middle schools.

10. Area News

§  Herts. – The local authority has consulted over the closure of Bridgewater and Thomas Coram Middle Schools – and looks set to reorganise the system from September 2013 with the co-operation of the schools involved. This would leave 4 middle schools in Hertfordshire.

·         Dorset – The Purbeck reorganisation in under way and will be completed when the middle schools close this July These plans have been undermined by the likelihood of a free school in Swanage to be built on the playing field of the middle school (whose buildings will be taken over by a primary school).

In the Dorchester pyramid the three middle schools and the upper school have separately become academies.

·         Bedfordshire – The middle school heads continue to work closely together, conducting mini-ofsted inspections in each other’s schools which has been a very helpful development.

There continue to be great changes in the structures and status of schools as they work together to develop their own systems in the light of local circumstances.

·         Staffordshire – Churnet View Middle School and Westwood High School in Leek have formed a federation with a single governing body. St Edwards Junior High school will become an academy in January and continues to work co-operatively with the other schools in Leek.

·         Somerset – concern about the new funding formula and its effect for middle schools is troubling heads.

§  Worcs – 70% of the secondary schools have become academies and this is now affecting the services the LA is now able to offer. Three middle schools are set to gain academy status in January 2013.


12. AOB

John Kime was thanked for his 10 years of service to the Forum in a small presentation.

13. Future meetings

The room at St Saviours will not be available on Tuesdays in the coming year – so it was agreed to move the Steering Committee meetings to Wednesdays in the coming year 2012/13

Steering Committee Meetings – date of next meeting:

Please note date change:  the next meeting will be Wednesday 13th March, 2013.

o    Wednesday November,w3 7th 2012

o    Wednesday March 13th, 2013

o    Wednesday June 12th, 2013

At 10.30 am – St Saviour’s Church, St George’s Square, Pimlico, SW1V 9AL

The meeting closed at 12.45 p.m.