AGM Minutes 2010

TBS Annual General Meeting

Minutes of meeting held on 17th June 2010

Board Members present: Beatrice Murray (Vice Chair); Bas van Doesburg (Treasurer); Liz Maudslay (Secretary); Reg Naylor; Kim Taylor; Mark Vickers (Ex Officio, Gurkhas); Ewan Davies (ex officio on behalf of Embassy); Sandj Wilderspin (Principal); Tumika Sthapit (Bursar); Arjun Paudel (staff representative)

Apologies: Larry Robertson (chair); Grenville Hopkinson

1. Welcome and Introduction to the Board

Beatrice began by saying that in the absence of Larry she, as vice chair, would be chairing the meeting. She welcomed everyone to the meeting and began by introducing Board members and giving apologies from Larry Robertson and Grenville Hopkinson. She reminded those present that the purpose of the AGM was to give parents the opportunity to raise questions in relation to the Annual Report which they had received access to two weeks earlier. She said that this meeting could of course only deal with issues that could be discussed in a public forum, and also said that the General Body had been asked to raise any specific issues they wanted to discuss at the meeting in writing by Friday 11th June. One question had been received which would be raised under AOB.

Beatrice then said that a second purpose of the meeting was to hold elections should there be any Board vacancies in the coming year. Parents had been notified that there were two vacancies for Parent Board members but that only one nomination had been received for Ujjal Rajbandhari. As there had been no other nominations Ujjal had been elected unopposed. Beatrice then asked Ujjal to introduce himself which he did.

12. Minutes of the last AGM

Beatrice asked if these minutes, which had been posted on the website, were a true record of last year’s AGM and could be accepted. David Bruce proposed to accept the minutes, seconded by Mark Vickers. There were no objections and and the minutes of the 2009 AGM were formally approved.

3. Report from the Chair

Beatrice said that this was an informal verbal report as the full written report had already been made available to parents. She merely wished to reiterate certain highlights. She said the Board were satisfied with the results achieved by the school in external examinations and also very pleased that the newly formed sixth form was now firmly established with 14 students having completed their A levels along with 22 having taken IGCSE exams, many of whom will progress next year to Year 12. She welcomed the way in which the school continues to attract high numbers of new students thanks to the high standards of teaching and learning. She ended by thanking all staff for their consistently high quality of teaching and support and particularly thanked those staff who would be leaving TBS and wished them all the best for their ongoing careers.

There were no questions after this report.

Report from the Principal

Sandj said this had been a very busy year for TBS and that as always at this time of year there were several farewells, although the numbers leaving were not as high as they sometimes were at this stage of the year. There is a healthy waiting list and many of those on it will be replacing children who are leaving although she did emphasise that TBS had standards of admission which meant that those wishing to apply did not automatically gain a place.

Sandj said that the school’s community links continued to thrive and students had been on many residential trips. Other community links had included a formal arrangement with Sunrise Boarding School as two TBS teaching assistants had been at school with the founder who had died this year. Her young son was keen to take over management of the school along with his aunt and was looking for advice from TBS. This was being achieved by TBS Senior Management Team organising ongoing support, observation and linked sporting events. Sandj had carried out a mini inspection of the school and was very impressed with how much it was achieving despite its small resources. Meanwhile ongoing links had continued between TBS and Early Learning Centre teachers who had been observing the younger children’s classes at TBS. The ongoing link whereby Rato Bangla students spend three weeks at TBS was also continuing.

Sandj then went on to talk about school themed weeks including the Creative Arts week which was taking place this week and had involved many musical performances. She also said that each class was continuing to support an individual Nepali charity. Pastoral care at the school continued to be a major feature, and a very successful parents’ workshop on ways in which parents could best support their child’s learning had been held.

Work on the New Site was progressing although as all parents already know it has taken considerably longer than was originally envisaged. David will be leaving the staff at the end of this year but others will be carrying on with the role he has been performing. Building will start very soon and completion should happen in the next two years. The architect’s plans are now finalised and children have been very involved in bringing forward their suggestions including the need to plan for a boarding facility and also a proper canteen.

Hilary Oatley asked whether staff as well as children had been involved in drawing up the plans and Sandj confirmed that this certainly had been the case.

Beatrice asked if there were any other questions either on Sandj’s verbal report or on the written annual report.

Alan Reid noted that there had been an item on the report which spoke about a questionnaire sent to all exam cohorts asking how well they felt they had been prepared for their exam and what they felt had helped and what could have been improved. He asked if there had been any negative feedback. Sandj said that, as had been reported in the annual report, the main requests had been for more help with note taking and opportunities to work on past papers. These were both issues raised by a significant number of respondents.

Marjan Slaats asked whether these questionnaires were given out to all exam cohorts and Sandj confirmed that they were, including those who had taken A levels and were no longer at the school.

4. Budget

Bas began by saying that next year’s fee increase would be 8%. He recognised that this was a little higher than that of the past few years but still significantly less than the rate of inflation in Nepal which the school was having to cope with. Other reasons for the slightly higher fee increase were that with the acquisition of land and the costs already associated with building the new school there needed to be a slightly more conservative approach to budgeting. Also, 12 years ago the then Board had agreed that the school should always have in reserve a 5% buffer to cover all eventualities which can occur in the potentially volatile context of international schools (political instability, sudden drops in numbers etc.). This percentage had in the past few years dropped below 5% and it was felt important to work towards restoring it.

Beatrice asked for questions in relation to the Budget.

Mrs Joshi asked if the budget sheet which Bas had shown included budgeting for the new site. Bas said it did not and that the new construction came under a separate budget and was being financed by proceeds from the school’s capital fund which would be supplemented by a bank loan. This budget only dealt with day to day running of the school.

Marjan Slaats asked what was included under the heading ‘school costs’ and was told this included all including general upkeep costs including rent.

Alan Reid queried the very high staff student ratio for next year under the Nursery column. Bas replied that this was an anomaly caused by the way in which the school had divided its costs for the purpose of this budget separating costs of expatriate staff from locally employed staff. Nursery children will next year be receiving a certain amount of input from a range of staff across the primary sector. However, the main nursery teacher for next year is a Nepali member of the teaching staff. The current nursery teacher handed in her notice too late for a replacement to be advertised during the annual recruitment process and although Sandj had asked primary applicants if they would be prepared to teach a nursery class none had said yes. She had discussed the issue at depth with the Senior Management Team who felt that the post of lead teacher could very ably be filled by one of the existing Teaching Assistants who has a degree, speaks excellent English, has had significant nursery training and fourteen years experience.

Alan Reid then asked how much the school spent on equipment as one of his sons had reported that he had needed to share equipment during a science exam. Bas replied that he could not give an instant reply to this but that each head of section put in a request for the special equipment that they needed for their subject area and the Board expected this to be sufficient.  

Alan then asked various questions about why parents had not been presented with an audited copy of accounts. Bas replied that the financial management of the school had suffered a severe setback when the Bursar (for reasons unrelated to the school) had had to leave his post suddenly during a period when the school was just shifting to computerised accounting. Although the books had been audited as soon as the previous Bursar had left, this was not an end of year audit but rather an interim control measure. With the combination of his loss and the shift to computerised accounts it had taken a considerable length of time to reorganise affairs. The situation now was that an external audit has been carried out for the past two years and this was very recently presented to the Board who are currently examining it. As soon as these two audits have been approved by the Board they will be sent to all parents along with a postal voting slip on which parents can say whether or not they are happy with them. The audit report for the running year will be dealt with in the same way.

Alan said he felt that there had been a degree of irresponsibility in regard to the presentation of audited accounts. Beatrice as chair accepted that it was very unfortunate and apologised sincerely. She said that she was sure the situation would be resolved very shortly and the correct audit reports would be sent to all parents within the first term of the coming school year.

Marjan Slaats asked if audits were carried out by an approved external agency and was assured that this was always the case.

5. AOB

Beatrice said that one question had been raised by a group of three members of the teaching staff regarding information given about 360 monitoring in the annual report. As background, parents were told that the school had started 360 monitoring three years ago initially only for the Principal and then for Principal and Senior Management Team. 360 monitoring is a holistic, all round review unlike the usual top down forms of appraisal. Questionnaires are filled in by teaching staff, Governors, and a random selection of one in seven parents. As last year’s monitoring had not revealed any significant changes and many parents had not completed their questionnaires it was felt that it might be more effective to carry it out every other year. However, the three members of teaching staff who had sent in the question said that they felt it was an important review and would like it to happen annually. They had also raised the point that in previous years the questionnaire had been sent out very near the beginning of the first term which was not the best timing for new members of staff.

Beatrice replied that she was pleased that the staff valued the review and she felt sure the Board would be happy to reinstate it as an annual event.  She said that this, and also looking for more appropriate timing, would both be raised at the first Board meeting of next academic year.

Mrs Joshi asked whether the 360 review might also be extended to include teacher appraisal. The reply was that this would certainly be looked into although Sandj did point out that there was already a parents’ questionnaire sent out every two years in which parents could inform the school about how they felt about the teaching their child was receiving.

Mrs Joshi asked whether the school had a system of performance monitoring of teachers and Sandj said that all teachers had their performance regularly monitored by their line manager which resulted in them working towards agreed new targets every year.

Marjan Slaats asked whether the school only recruited teachers from the UK. Beatrice replied that there was no ruling on this. The only criteria was that teachers were fully and adequately trained. They were selected on the basis of qualifications and experience and although, given equal qualifications we would prefer to employ UK trained teachers, because we taught to the UK curriculum, UK training was not a prerequisite.

There were no more questions.

Beatrice drew the meeting to a close thanking, on behalf of Larry Robertson, Sandj and all the staff for their very hard work this year. She also thanked Kim as parent liaison officer and all the members of the Parent Teacher Association for the work they had put into organising events. Finally she thanked all her fellow members of the Board for the consistent way in which they voluntarily gave their time to support the school.