The Education Service

Schools Bulletin: March 2014

As we begin to prepare for Lent I would ask you to consider the work of CARITAS www.rcdow.org.uk/caritas. For all our schools we should be using Lent as a period of discernment and preparation for Easter.  I would be delighted to hear from individual schools what was achieved by your community in celebrating our faith over the Lenten period.  It would be good to celebrate and share the good work you are doing.

If you have not already done so I would ask you to read and examine Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel).  This important document should be discussed in our schools.  Pope Francis is challenging us to see the simplicity of Christ in shaping all that we do in the complexity of education today.  He is asking us to look at what we do with fresh eyes and renewed vigour.

March witnesses two important conferences for Primary and Senior leaders.  Following the successful Secondary Heads Conference in Leuven, it will be their opportunity to help shape the vision for the future of the Education provision. The conferences have given me an invaluable opportunity to speak with colleagues about shaping the future. In an attempt to develop a deeper understanding of schools’needs, I would like to invite Secondary Headteachers to consider seconding their Head of Religious Education (or second in charge) to the diocese for a term as a Secondary RE Advisor. This will give the team here an opportunity of working alongside a current practitioner, and will further help to shape the Service. As well as helping the diocese, the experience will provide excellent CPD. The diocese will, of course, meet the costs involved. If you think you may be able to help, please telephone/email me.

I am very aware that the process of appointing foundation governors is often seen as lengthy, laborious and frustrating and discussions are underway to improve this. Since the departure of a long serving member of staff, we have found this post difficult to recruit to owing to its part-time nature. We have been grateful to Stephanie Carswell who has supported this area over recent months, but she now has to return to full time study for her Bar examinations. We have decided to try and appoint a full time member of staff to co-ordinate governor appointments, along with other duties aimed at improving the service we can offer schools. We will offer a competitive salary to attract the right candidate and I would be grateful if you would bring this opportunity to the attention of your school community. Again, I would asked interested persons to telephone or email me.

Bishop John has written a letter which I enclose with this bulletin along with some other materials to support your school over the Lenten period.

As many students are preparing for public examinations, please pass on our thoughts and prayers at this challenging time in their calendar.

                         

Yours sincerely,

JP Morrison

Director of Education


FOLLOW-UP FROM RECENT INSPECTION UPDATE SESSIONS

Over 250 people participated in the recent updates on the inspection process – heads; deputies, governors and subject leaders in religious education. As a result of the discussions during the sessions, the following clarifications are offered to assist all involved in the preparatory work for Diocesan inspection:

 

  1. 1. Due to the back-log of inspections due to changes to the Ofsted timings and de-coupling of Diocesan inspection from Ofsted, some schools due a Diocesan inspection this academic year were told that their inspection might be delayed. Schools attending the first session did not get the opportunity to clarify if they were in that category or not.  Please feel free to contact the Chief Inspector to be informed in which academic year you are most likely to have your Diocesan inspection:  maryjomartin@rcdow.org.uk

 

  1. 2. The judgement on TEACHING is not made solely on the basis of lessons observed during the actual inspection. The judgement is based on teaching ‘over time’, scrutiny of pupils’ work, discussions with pupils and subject leaders in religious education and also on the school’s own monitoring of teaching throughout the year.

 

  1. 3. Achievement in religious education.While the grade descriptor states that achievement in religious education ‘will be at least as good as other subjects’ this is not meant to mean a direct comparison with other subjects. It means that inspectors will ask subject leaders to explain how pupil progress and achievement in religious education is informed by how well they achieve across the whole curriculum. If pupils are achieving well in other areas but not in religious education, why is this, what needs to be done, what assessment procedures do we have in place to address this, how aware of this are subject leaders?

 

  1. General religious education.  The big concern during this discussion was about the measuring of progress in general religious education.  General religious education must offer stretch and challenge to students, especially if they come to the sixth form with GCSE or an equivalent Level 2 standard.  The ability of any department to establish the ‘starting point’ for students at this stage and to measure how students learn during general religious education is expected in terms of content, teaching, assessment and leadership and management of the department. The form of assessment of learning and progress made can be varied – it need not always be a written piece of work. Departments can be creative in devising assessment methods.  Inspectors will want to see evidence that learning and progress are taking place in general religious education. The NOCN programme is accepted as fulfilling teaching requirements in terms of time. However, progress needs to be shown according to students’ prior learning and attainment.

 

5. Lesson observations in primary schools. Due to the  short notice period it is accepted that it may not be possible for heads to manage to offer all religious education teaching on the day of the inspection.  Heads are asked to do what they can within the time available.

 

6. Parents’ questionnaire. Schools are expected to send out the questionnaire prior to inspection. Inspectors understand that returns may be low due to the time element. It was suggested that schools might like to send out the questionnaire a couple of times during the school year, to collect parents’ views, or establish an online system.

Sister Mary Jo Martin RSHM; maryjomartin@rcdow.org.uk  07881641575 


 

Admissions Update

From 1st September 2014, no new Statements of SEN will be issued (unless the process has already commenced). Statements will be replaced by Education, Health and Care Plans and over the next three years Statements will convert to these Plans. Admission policies will have to be amended therefore (in the paragraph on Statements of SEN) to read Statements of SEN/Education, Health and Care Plans. This can be done immediately.

Most schools have now received their admission arrangements back from the diocese and consulted where necessary. All schools must take their admission arrangements (policy and SIF) to governors this term for the final arrangements to be determined. The arrangements can then be sent to the LA, letting them know that they have been determined. This must be done by 15th April at the latest. Once this has been done the policy and SIF can be put on the school’s website.

Next Term there will be admissions training for governors on the following dates:

Admission Appeals 10th May 2014 for those wishing to sit on appeals panels (or interested in the process).

Presenting Officers 7th June and 21st June 2014 (2 separate courses) for the governor or headteacher presenting the school’s case to the appeals panel.

It is recommended that all members of the admissions committee attend one of these courses.

Admission enquiries to maryryan@rcdow.org.uk; Course bookings to margarett@rcdow.org.uk


 

HEADS OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION CONFERENCE

The Heads of Religious Education Conference for this academic year is on Thursday 3rd to Friday 4th July 2014. Heads of Religious Education need to book, using the attached flyer, by March 28th because the Education Service needs to offer spare places to other teachers.

The keynote speaker is BRIAN DAVIES O.P. (Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Fordham University, New York). He is due to publish his new book during the summer term.

Contact: John Williams  johnwilliams@rcdow.org.uk                       07912 480 992


 

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! Please send your news to greenyl@rcdow.org.uk )

Sion Manning Girls school on receiving a letter from the Minister of State for Schools, Mr David Laws congratulating them as one of the top 100 schools in England whose pupils have achieved five or me A*-C grade GCSES, including Maths and English;

St Thomas More School, Wood Green for their recognition from Ofsted as being the “Most Improved School in the Country”. This is an outstanding testament to the hard work of Martin Tissot and his team, along with the Cardinal Hume Academy Trust.

 

Congratulations!