Herts for Learning’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) 2019 was held at the Hertfordshire Development Centre, Stevenage on Thursday 3rd October at 5pm.
The AGM provided a great opportunity for Herts for Learning’s (HfL) Managing Director, Andrew de Csilléry and the Chair of the HfL Board, Robin Barrett, to report to shareholders about the impact that HfL has had on education over the last year and to share the company’s plans for the year ahead.
Speaking at the AGM, Andrew said:
“Herts for Learning is operating in an increasingly challenging environment for our shareholders and customers.
“In this challenging environment, we must remain true to our underlying purpose and our vision for the role we wish to play. We believe that every young person, through access to a great education, should be able to realise their potential, regardless of where they live or their circumstances. We aim to be the company of choice for services, resources and products helping those we work with to deliver a great education. We know we must continue to deliver both value for money and tangible results in all that we do. We must also manage our resources prudently to ensure our financial stability and security for the long term.
“I believe that we have continued to strike the right balance this year, delivering for all our stakeholders in the short term, whilst also investing for the longer term. We have continued to develop new products and services, whilst continuously improving our offer to Hertfordshire schools and settings. This focus lies at the heart of all that we do.
“We are pleased with the continued success of Hertfordshire schools, whilst recognising that when it comes to securing positive outcomes for our children the bar can never be set too high. I am proud our impact data shows that schools that engage with HfL in a meaningful way had, on average, better outcomes than those that didn’t. Our challenge therefore is to deepen our relationship with more schools to continue to drive up outcomes across the county.”
Andrew stated that HfL operates with a not for profit distribution ethos, so any margin generated is re-invested, either to improve HfL services and operations, or in common good activities to the benefit of all our stakeholders. Since HfL was established, the company has invested £950,000 in common good activities and passed back £1.5m in price reductions for Hertfordshire Internet and Connectivity Service (HICS) support to our shareholding schools.
This year, based on feedback from the 2019 Annual Shareholder Survey, the Board has decided to shift some of the focus for Common Good investments. HfL will continue to support Great Expectations, one of HfL’s programmes designed help close the gap in attainment for Disadvantaged and Vulnerable pupils, and also continue to support certain recruitment activities, but on a reduced scale.
However, Andrew announced that we will be expanding the range of activities we are supporting to cover other areas that shareholders and staff have identified including:
- the launch of a set of collaboration tools to assist schools in finding efficiencies and generating additional income
- the promotion of an online service that gives schools free access to recycled materials from large commercial organisations
- the production and promotion of a set of informal videos (also known as Vlogs) from a selection of inspirational speakers that teachers can use in the classroom to inspire children and young people to learn about how to maintain good mental and deal positively with the challenges of life.
Andrew outlined some of the key initiatives HfL had undertaken during the year:
“Earlier this year we made an important investment to strengthen our digital offer, acquiring Modern Governor, the leading national online training product for governors. In tandem, we have signed a long-term partnership with Learning Pool, who developed Modern Governor, which will combine our content knowledge with their online training development capability, allowing us to introduce new and improved online training content across all our services in a timelier manner.
The case studies included in the annual report demonstrate the breadth of the service we provide to schools and settings. Another example of the value we deliver has been our focus on assisting schools that are in immediate financial difficulty. Through a series of workshops with close to 70 of the most vulnerable primary schools and Early Years settings in the county, we have been able to support over 80% of them to deliver a substantially improved financial position and reduce potential deficit positions by over £1m.”
Andrew concluded by talking about climate change, and the actions HfL is taking to reduce its carbon footprint including the introduction of a new corporate social responsibility (CSR) statement for the company.
This was the first AGM with Robin Barrett as Chair of the Herts for Learning Board and also his last, as he will step down form the Board in March 2020 after serving the maximum two terms of office. Robin presented an ‘Overview of the HfL Board’ introducing Board members and summarising key changes to the Board this year. He emphasised the importance of the Board and of good governance; outlining the Board’s role, its purpose vision and values, its stakeholders, and the Board’s commitments and behaviours.
The AGM concluded with a presentation and overview of the new The Great School Framework© Portal by Rachel MacFarlane, HfL’s Director of Education Services, which was launched to schools on 9th October.
To view the Annual Report to Shareholders 2019, please see: