Oak Lodge School

Name: Desmond Jarrett

Title: Chair of Governors

School Name: Oak Lodge School

School Type: Maintained SEN School for Deaf and Speech/Language/Hearing Impairment, Yr 6 to 6th form

Tell us a little bit about your school…

Oak Lodge is a very special education resource for children and young adults who are deaf or have speech, language and/or communication challenges. The school is a maintained school in the London Borough of Wandsworth but the student catchment extends across most of London and the surrounding counties. There is capacity for around 100 pupils and up to around 12 students in the residential arm attached to the school.  There is a very skilled and dedicated faculty of teachers, therapists and health workers to support the personal and learning development of each pupil.

Welfare of young deaf adults is a vital part of the school’s work. The aim is to give every young person the best opportunity to progress into an independent and rewarding life, socially and economically. The ethos is for there to be no ceiling to ambition nor effort. Encouragement in sport, arts, drama and academic life is offered by the staff and therapists.

Governors at the school play a vital role ensuring the high standards of teaching and behaviour are maintained as well as helping the school to make efficient use of its resources to give students the best education and personal development possible. The school uses a variety of communication methods – BSL, Sign Supported English etc. – but governors will be offered help with communications so their interaction with students and deaf members of staff is not hampered.

Your challenge: why did you come to Governors for Schools and how did we help?

The governing body was keen to diversify its intake of governors and seek a wider range of defined skills – financial management, education knowledge, business strategy etc. Through Governors for Schools there is access to a broad set of skills and interests. The application procedures and skills audit used by Governors for Schools helps to track more accurately those applicants with the right skills set.

Did you have any particular requirements? (i.e. skill requests)

There were several vacant posts on the board through pending retirements. The main requirements were – a more financially literate member, someone with experience in the education sector, knowledge of strategic planning and commitment to improving young people’s future.

What was your timescale? Did everything run smoothly?

The vacancies needed to be filled by end of 2017.  The recruitment commenced in July and has been very smooth. Applicants have been keen to meet and appreciated the professionalism of the vetting and application process.

Who joined you?

  • Amy Lafferty – Civil Servant, Home Office.  Strong understanding of child safeguarding and volunteer experience in the education field. Amy has already established a good link with our Student Welfare and Emotions SLT member and is leading the improvement in governor awareness of safeguarding.
  • James Torrance – Investment Industry background and financial analysis skills.  As a qualified accountant, James will bring a more thorough understanding of the financial discipline and budget planning for the school.  He has assisted with the preparation of business plans for new ‘ventures’ in the school.
  • Hikmat Khaleeli – Small business owner and manager, recently retired.  As a successful entrepreneur, Hikmat brings a vision of strategic thinking and ambition to the board.  He has only just started to attend meeetings but is keen to help with marketing and promotion of the school’s activities.

Working with Governors for Schools has benefited our school by identifying in a structured manner potential governors with the specific skills needed to enhance and diversify the talent resources of the governing board.

Any additional comments?

The fast response time to requests and easy communication has been admirable