The Education Service

School Bulletin: February 2010

From Paul Barber

From:

Paul Barber

Director of Education

paulbarber@rcdow.org.uk

020 7798 9005

One of the joys of this job is seeing the splendid success of our schools. Year on year they never fail to succeed against all the odds and this year is no exception. The latest secondary GCSE and A-Level results show most of our schools performing well above expectations. Given that our secondary schools recruit from every area of the Diocese, and that most take a diverse intake which reflects the richness of the Catholic population they serve, this is a remarkable feat.

These facts are largely responsible for both the popularity of our schools with parents and for their unpopularity with some commentators and politicians. It is therefore right that we should celebrate these successes perhaps more than we do. But in doing so there is no room for complacency: we all have a responsibility to ensure that there are no counter-signs in our midst.

It was with this in mind, and with a heavy heart that the Diocese felt obliged to refer one of its own schools to the Adjudicator in the summer of last year. It came after much deliberation, several years of negotiation and clear warnings. If the Diocese has any role at all, one of its primary roles must be to uphold the integrity of Catholic education as a whole. That integrity is more important than any individual institution, and the Diocese cannot shy away from its responsibility to act on behalf of the whole Catholic community to protect it.

Whilst the circumstances of the determination were unfortunate, the outcome is helpful. The Adjudicator, like the Admissions Code, has recognised the religious authority of the Diocesan Bishop in his Diocese in relation to Catholic schools. It has confirmed that it is the Church that defines who is a Catholic, not a particular school. More detail about the determination is to be found in the Bulletin.

Paul Barber Signature

Primary Headteachers’ and Deputy Heateachers’ Conferences 2010

We are delighted that so many Head Teachers and Deputies have applied for both the above conferences. Including Diocesan personnel, we have 93 delegates for the Assisi Conference ‘Stewards of Creation’ March 23rd - March 26th. For the Deputy Heads’ Conference to York ‘The Coming of the Kingdom’ Feb 24th – Feb 26th there are 74 delegates. Confirmation details with draft programmes and travel details have be sent directly to all delegates. The deputy heads’ mailing was sent to schools the week beginning the 25th January and the Heads’ mailing the following week Feb 1st. Contact Maureen Roe 0207 798 9005 or email maureenroe@rcdow.org.uk

Catholic Children’s Society

Please keep your eyes open for a mailing of Lenten material from the Catholic Children’s Society. The theme this year is ‘The Journey towards Easter’ and it invites you to undertake a physical and spiritual journey to the season which proclaims our resurrection! To support the Society (which Archbishop Vincent described as the ‘most important’ in the Diocese!) we have prepared additional materials in the form of a list of picture story books, songs (including contemporary ones) activities and prayers that you might find useful. These are available on the Education Service website under “Primary Support Materials”. If you wish to take a couple of lessons from your religious education programme to promote the work of the Society, please feel free to do so – it is important that we not only support the organisations that support our families, but that we make our religious education a living thing: something we believe and do.

Contact Margaret Carswell 0207 798 9005 or email margaretcarswell@rcdow.org.uk

Attendance at professional development courses

Please be careful about making sure you register that you are going to attend any programme we offer? While we never wish to chase people away, not knowing how many to expect makes our provision of handouts etc more difficult. It also makes any notification of a decision to cancel an activity due to lack of support impossible. Thanks for your support with this – it will help us to help you!

Contact Margaret Carswell 0207 798 9005 or email margaretcarswell@rcdow.org.uk

Internet Links

The book of links to useful religious education internet sites has been updated and is on the website. If you open the document on your computer, the sites will open if you click on the link. Again, this material should enable you to enhance your teaching with up to date resources – regardless of the religious education programme you use.  

Contact Margaret Carswell 0207 798 9005 or email margaretcarswell@rcdow.org.uk

Haitian Earthquake

A Prayer for the people of Haiti from www.cafod.org.uk

Light shines in darkness, and darkness could not overpower it. (John 1:5)

At this time of darkness for the people of Haiti, we remember all those who have died in the earthquake, and the thousands who are injured, homeless or afraid.

God, in your love and compassion, you are with us always. 

You understand the devastation of bereavement, may your spirit comfort those who mourn.

God, in your love and compassion, you are with us always. 

You are a light that shines in the darkest times, guide, support and strengthen all those in need.

God, in your love and compassion, you are with us always. 

We ask this in the name of Christ your son, who became flesh and lived among us. Amen.

GCSE Religious Studies

Entering the second term of teaching the new GCSE specifications, several schools have commented critically on aspects of the specification and assessment and on accompanying course textbooks. We welcome such comments so that we may work with schools to address such concerns in appropriate ways. The forthcoming morning INSET on 25th February – “Teaching the new GCSE Religious Studies Specifications” – will focus on practical aspects of teaching EdExcel and AQA in particular but there will be opportunity to raise wider concerns about specification content and its impact on teaching Catholic Religious Education in Key Stage 4.

For further information please contact your adviser or Peter Ward on 020 7798 9005 or peterward@rcdow.org.uk

Sex and Relationships Education*

Government policy with regard to Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) continues to evolve. A review was first announced in the Children’s Plan in December 2007. This recommended that PSHE be made statutory, supported by a Programme of Study. This recommendation was accepted by government who then set up a review headed by Sir Alasdair MacDonald to suggest practical ways in implementing this recommendation. Reporting in October 2009, this review proposed among other things that priority be given to establishing “values context” for all teaching of SRE and that Catholic schools teach it in line with Catholic teaching, and that other schools with a religious character would similarly be influenced by their faith tradition. Government has announced that PSHE, including SRE, will be statutory from September 2011 and is expected to publish Guidance on this in the very near future. Governors and head teachers are urged to study the Guidance carefully when it is published and to be alert to the response of the Catholic Education Service. It will be important to be clear about the rights and responsibilities of governing bodies and the autonomy and discretion of voluntary aided schools. The Diocese intends to provide advice and guidance to governors and head teachers as soon as practicable. A training event focusing on SRE in Catholic secondary