When the government first announced their new thinking on Academies, we commented on the difficulties of signing up to policies before knowing their content, and the potential dangers to the Catholic character of our schools.
It became clear early on that the various questions that needed to be asked could be divided under two big umbrella questions: “could we?”, and “should we?”.
“Could we?” is the first of these questions, for without a positive answer to this question, there is no point in asking ourselves the subsequent question. It is also in many ways the easier of the two. It concerns some of the basic minimum safeguards without which Catholic Trustees would be unable, unwilling or extremely unlikely to participate in the programme under any circumstances. The original proposals virtually to “confiscate” Church land, to impose inappropriate leases and the power to “nationalise” a Catholic Academy were examples of those concerns.
The Catholic Education Service has been working on behalf of the Bishops to engage with Departmental officials in trying to resolve these concerns. In partnership with our Anglican colleagues, who shared the same concerns, this work has now resulted in significant progress. Last week a generic set of template documents was produced and signed off by the Department that may be suitable for Church schools. Catholic versions of these documents are being prepared by the CES, and these in turn will provide a starting point for Dioceses and other Trustees.
Last week’s breakthrough, welcome as it is, has not resolved all the issues. Some important problems (such as those with land) cannot be fully resolved without primary legislation. We anticipate an Education Bill next month that will become the vehicle for this.
Whilst this legislative programme takes it course, it enables us to begin our consideration of “should we?”. This question is less technical, but in many ways more complex, as it has considerable moral and ecclesial implications. Unlike the first, the answer may vary in different places and times. It is a discussion with which we must engage in this Diocese as a Catholic family of schools. We must look at the reasons for and against such a move against the background of both local circumstances and the common good in the long-term.
I encourage you all to take part fully as we engage schools and their communities in these discussions in the coming months. The first of these opportunities, for chairs of governors and head teachers, will take place on 13th January. I also thank you all for your patience up to this point: your collective resistance to those who have advocated hasty decisions has enabled the progress made so far, and its continuance will enable these important first steps to be completed.
As our Advent preparation draws to a close, I wish you all the best for the Christmas season and hope you all get a well earned break before the New Year begins.
New Chairs of Governors
Enclosed with this bulletin you will find a revised flier for the New Chairs of Governors’ Course that was postponed from 29th September due to lack of participants. The revised date for the course is Tuesday 8th February 6.30pm – 8.30pm at Vaughan House. Please can you draw this course to the attention of your Chair of Governors. The course will be an opportunity to discuss the duties and responsibilities of the Chair of Governors set in the context of the distinctive nature of the Catholic School. Experienced Chairs of Governors will equally be welcome and also those who have aspirations to be chairs in the future. The new chairs would have a lot to gain from those with the wisdom of experience in the role. Some new chairs have asked if they could have an experienced chair as a mentor to contact for advice etc. If any Chairs have the time and the inclination to do this then please contact Maureen Roe.
Contact: Maureen Roe on 020 7798 9005 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Generic template documents for Church schools were agreed at the end of November by the CES, the National Society and the DfE. This represents important progress, but there is much work still to be done. The Bishops’ Conference broadly welcomed this progress at its recent meeting (see statement on our website) and the Bishops will be holding a symposium shortly so that they can consider the way forward in more detail. The Diocesan Education Commission also considered latest developments, and confirmed that the agreed legislative solution to the land issues will need to be in place before any recommendations for Trustee consent could be finalised. During this time, we need to move to a more intensive period of engagement of schools within the Diocese. Two discussion sessions have been arranged for Thursday 13th January (2.30pm and 6.30pm) to explore all the issues involved. Further details are enclosed with this Bulletin, and can be found on our website. If any schools are in direct contact with DfE officials please let us know: it is essential that a representative of the Trustees is involved in any conversation governors or head teachers have with the Department about the long-term future of the school. Contact Paul Barber on 020 7798 9005 or email email@example.com
From time to time we get calls from schools regarding parish boundaries. Using the best information available to the Diocese, maps of all parish boundaries have been compiled and these are now attached to the web page of each parish on the Diocesan website. These can be accessed by entering www.rcdow.org.uk/then the parish name in small case. This will open the parish web page. You will see on the left hand menu “Parish Boundaries”. You will then see a link to a pdf map showing the boundaries.
Contact Mike Pittendreigh on 020 7798 9190 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- an exciting new initiative in the Catholic Church,
- offering members access to fantastic discounts of up to 30%
As discussed at the Diocesan Head Teacher’s Conference in July, the Dioceses of England and Wales are co-operating in order to use the leverage provided by the immense purchasing power we have as a Church. This initiative will allow us to negotiate lower pricesacross a range of product lines, including office and paper supplies, cleaning, and health and safety products. Great discounts on MISCO IT hardware and software will be available shortly as well as Telecommunications. Substantial savings have already been made by schools that have availed of the free catering audit that is also offered. We will be working with schools to constantly review the core list and ensure that you are obtaining the best prices for the products you need. If there are any products or services that you would like us to add please let us know.
We would very much like the schools of the Diocese of Westminster to join Churchmarketplace as founding members of this exciting new national initiative.
Enclosed please find a leaflet with more details.
If you have any comments or questions please let us know: email@example.com
Papal Visit of Pope Benedict
The Diocese of Westminster has released a video film celebrating the Papal Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain, which took place in September 2010.Seen through the eyes of priests, parishes and people, the 20 minute film tells the story of the two days Pope Benedict XVI spent in the Diocese of Westminster. ‘Pope Benedict XVI: The Papal Visit, in the Diocese of Westminster’ covers events including the Big Assembly, held at St Mary’s College Twickenham, the Papal Mass at Westminster Cathedral and the Prayer Vigil in Hyde Park. It includes interviews with the choir of Maria Fidelis School, Camden, Fr Christopher Jamison, blogger Claz Gomez, Pashcal Uche who presented the Pope with a symbol of Youth Ministry, Archbishop Vincent Nichols and the parishes of Mary Immaculate and St Gregory’s Barnet and of St Mary’s, Chelsea. The film can also be viewed online at http://vimeo.com/17085054
Those who received Admission Appeals training on or before 9th February 2009 will need to attend an update if they wish to continue, or start, sitting on appeals panels. The next training, which fulfils the statutory requirements for appeals panel training will take place at Vaughan House on 5th March 2011.
If you need to update or wish to train for the first time please contact Margaret Theissl on 020 8457 6531 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Admissions Arrangements 2012-2013*
A number of schools have still not sent their admission policies to the Diocese. It is now urgent that these policies be sent as soon as possible. A small number of schools will need to send their arrangements out to general consultation and this will have to be done before Christmas in order to comply with the School Admissions Code 2010. Please send your policy and SIF to email@example.com as soon as possible.
Meeting with Diocesan Inspectors
A copy of the handout given to Diocesan (Section 48) inspectors at our meeting on November 10 contained in the last Bulletin was only printed on one side. It is therefore included again, for your reference. The two items raised with the inspectors (Achieving Levels 3, 4 and 5, and the presentation and teaching of Scripture) represent areas of ongoing work in the Diocese and have been discussed at a number of professional development activities this and last term. As the matters outlined concern your Religious Education Coordinator most particularly, would you kindly ensure they receive a copy of this handout. At our Religious Education Coordinators Conference some coordinators said they were not aware of changes in these areas.
Contact: Margaret Carswellon 020 7798 9005 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the past year we have been both ‘tweaking’ the support material that Kathleen Gilbert has written, and trialling a totally different sort of support through the provision of a CD with outcomes, activities and assessment opportunities. Many of you saw and used the most recent one, prepared for the “Here I Am” topic, Initiation. The intention was to continue developing such material in support of teaching while we evaluate and trial new curriculum resources. However, the decision by the Bishops to prepare a new Curriculum Directory has meant that any curriculum writing now stands on unknown ground. With that in mind we have decided to provide more generic material, not tied to any programme, which aims to improve the teaching of Scripture only. This new material will be provided online via a dedicated website which schools will be able to access themselves. Contact has been made with several schools who have expressed an interest in trialling the material: if you would like to be involved please email (see below) and let us know. The material will be online within a week and we would like schools to engage in as many of the activities as they can before the Christmas break so that wording can be adjusted and activities polished before we go public in the Spring Term.
Contact: Margaret Carswellon 020 7798 9005 or email@example.com
Annual Review Visit
At the last round of Deputy Head Forums it was clear that our move from an ‘inspectorial’ advisor visit to one where the content and timing is negotiated was beginning to have an effect. Those schools who had tailored the visit to suit their school needs felt that the visit had been much more effective. When your adviser first makes contact do feel free to negotiate what you would like them to do during their visit. Their time in the school should reflect and address your own identified issues as well as issues the adviser wishes to raise with you (such as those outlined above). Contact: Margaret Carswellon 020 7798 9005 or firstname.lastname@example.org
NOCN Sixth Form General Religious Education
Schools and colleges entering students for this qualification should ensure that all entries are with NOCN before the December closing date. Assessment and Internal Verification policies from those schools and colleges that are yet to submit them, should forward them to the NOCN Quality Reviewer, David Foster, without delay. Quality Assurance visits by David Foster are underway: he plans to visit about half the schools and colleges that enter students for this qualification. Your school adviser, who generally accompanies the Quality Reviewer, will be in touch to arrange a date for a visit. Contact: Peter Ward at email@example.com or on 020 7798 9005
Secondary Professional Development Programme
In the last month residential conferences have been held for Secondary Deputy Head Teachers and Heads of Religious Education as part of the comprehensive programme advertised in the CPD booklet. Evaluation forms show that these were very well received by the participants. Among future events specifically for the secondary phase are the Secondary Head Teachers’ Conference, 9-11 February, and Aspiring Secondary Heads of Religious Education on 17 February 2011.
Contact: Peter Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7798 9005
Good News Slot
(Please note: this section of the bulletin consists of good news which have been sent in from schools around the diocese. It may well be that others have achieved similar awards or success and, if so, we congratulate them too!)
Congratulations to Our Lady of Muswell Primary School, Haringey for being accredited the ICT Mark; St Bernadette’s Primary, Harrow have also been awarded the ICT Mark and have been re-accredited with the Healthy School Award.