Latest News - Director of Education

Dear Head Teacher/Chair of Governors,

I am writing to you concerning the publication of the new School Admissions Code which is expected to come into force from 1st September 2021 and contains a number of changes.

The main purpose of these changes is to improve support for the in-year admission of vulnerable children. The changes include introducing more detail on the process for managing in-year admissions; changes to improve the effectiveness of Fair Access Protocols; giving children adopted from state care outside of England equal admissions priority as children who were previously looked after in England; and clarification of which address to use for the admission of service or crown servant children. There are also further minor clarification changes.
Here are the links to the draft Code as laid in parliament, the supporting regulations, the Explanatory Memorandum and the consultation response.

Here are the links to

the draft Code as laid in parliament,

the supporting regulations,

the Explanatory Memorandum and

the consultation response - now closeed.

At this stage, the Code is still in draft, and all admission authorities will be informed in July if all changes made to the Code are to be implemented from September 2021.

As part of the proposed changes in the Code (see attachment), all voluntary aided schools and academies must also prepare to make the necessary change(s) to their determined admission arrangements for the academic years 2021 - 2022 and 2022 - 2023 once confirmation is received in July. These changes will not require consultation, but a governing body/trust meeting will need to be held to ensure that the necessary changes are discussed, and the arrangements updated.

Once the revised School Admissions Code receives parliamentary approval, the CES will provide us with further information and guidance which we will subsequently pass onto you concerning the necessary changes that you will need to make to your existing policy; your revised Admissions Policy will need to be published on your school website before 1st September 2021.

I hope that this information is helpful. As stated previously, we will write to you again with further details and clarification about the required changes as soon as they are finalised.

Diocese of Westminster Education Service

crestPeter Sweeney | Interim Director 

witness to the word

Dear Colleague in Catholic Education,

I am delighted to be able to share with you the latest edition of the Education Service Bulletin. As ever this edition contains a comprehensive mix of resources for use in your schools and communities; professional development opportunities; and guidance updates, to support you in the critical role you play as you continue to lead your communities through these turbulent times.

I would like particularly to draw your attention to the 'Calling All Catholic Teachers' event to be held on Tuesday 23rd November (page 2) and request your assistance to publicise this to any teachers, or trainee teachers you know or have contacts with that are not currently teaching within a Catholic School. 

In an update released by the DfE this week, the DfE have decided to make all NPQs fully funded for all schools. Funding for new national professional qualifications (NPQs) will now be available to staff in all schools, making the qualifications free for teachers and leaders in every school in the country. The eligibility change has come into effect immediately. The six new and reformed qualifications are available in: Executive Leadership, Headship, Leading Behaviour and Culture, Leading Teacher Development, Senior Leadership and Leading Teaching.

More details of Delivery Partners within the Diocese for the joint CES/CoE provision can be found on page 4 of the Bulletin or via this link:

Per Pupil Funding Agreement (PPFA)

May I begin by thanking all those schools who have already promptly returned the PPFA document and contributions. For those who have not yet submitted the return for their school, please address this with some urgency as preparations are being made to contact Chairs of Governors and School Business Managers directly from the start of next week where a school contribution has not yet been received. 

As requested by the Headteachers at the last Regional Hub Meetings,  we are introducing our 'Spotlighting Series' which will highlight an area of best practice to be shared across our school network. I would like to thank St Mary and St Michael’s Catholic Primary School for he first contribution and Spotlight on Mental Health which can be found on page 19 of this edition of the Bulletin.

Wishing you all the very best and an enjoyable and well deserved  break in the half term that is almost within touching distance.


crestPeter Sweeney | Interim Director 

Wednesday 7th July 2021

Dear Colleague in Catholic Education,

Thank you for all those who have been able to join in with our regular series of Regional Hub Meetings that are taking place this week. We hope that you have found these informative, useful and a regular point of contact with the diocese over the past year. We intend to continue these meetings throughout next year and we will include updates on core activities across all diocesan schools. I would also like to encourage you to consider submitting items you would feel are beneficial for us all to explore during these sessions, to ensure we are able to provide you with an opportunity to consider issues as they arise during the academic year. We will also continue with the Chair of Governor and School Business Manager briefings which usually take place the week following our Regional Hub Meetings.

Please find attached the final bulletin for this academic year which also contains information and a link to our Autumn Term CPD programme, for which bookings are already open (accessible here on the website).

It has been tremendously humbling to receive so many requests from our schools for Certificates of Recognition for members of your school communities who have given remarkable service over many years. It is a privilege to be able to acknowledge their significant contribution to the development of our school communities in support the children in our schools. Thank you for recognising the invaluable contributions these colleagues are making and for bring them to our attention through your nominations.

There are also a number of colleagues who have left our schools over the past year, and others who will be leaving at the end of this term. I would like to thank them for their dedicated service and commitment to their schools and the formation of the children and staff whom they have led. Our grateful thanks and best wishes are with:

Justine McDonald (Our Lady’s Catholic High School)

Ewa McSperrin (St Margaret Clitherow, Brent)

Amanda Leach (More House, Kensington)

Margaret Falvey (St Peter’s & St Gilda’s, Haringey)

Justine Page (St Joseph’s, Hertford)

Maria Conlon (St John Fisher, Harrow)

Mary Bickerstaff (Our Lady of Lourdes, Brent)

Pauline Wilson (St Anthony’s, Watford)

Teresa Lynch (Annunciation Infants, Barnet)

I would also wish to take time to express my appreciation for two members of the Education Service who are leaving this summer. Mike Pittendreigh has provided school leaders and governors with distinguished service over many years and previously served as a Headteacher within the Diocese. Mike, we wish you all the very best for the future and every happiness on your next adventure. Diana Roberts is leaving the Primary Advisory Team to take up a position as a Senior Teacher in one of our diocesan schools. Diana, thank you for your knowledgeable contribution to the work of our support team and the guidance you have provided to school leaders. We wish you every fulfilment in your future role.

On behalf of all the Education Service we wish you and all your school community a restful, peaceful and enjoyable summer break. Please make sure you take the time you need to rest and recuperate. The leadership and service you have given to your communities has been exceptional, thank you for all you are doing and continue to do, to protect, secure and develop the outstanding provision in your schools and the exceptional Catholic education our families seek for their children.

With best wishes for the peaceful a restful holiday you all thoroughly deserve,


crestPeter Sweeney | Interim Director 

Wednesday 23rd June 2021

Dear Colleague in Catholic Education,

Good morning to you and your school communities and I hope that you continue to remain safe and well.

After the past 15 months of navigating our schools through the continuing pandemic, I suppose we should not have been surprised that there was to be yet another twist in the tail as the anticipated move out of lockdown was delayed. This has caused yet another series of last-minute adjustments to activities that may have been planned in anticipation of the full lifting of restrictions, such as transition days and traditional celebration events as schools move into the final weeks of this academic year. Let us hope that we are finally nearing the end of the turbulence that has caused such disruption to the education of the children in our schools. Thank you for your continued service and commitment to your schools and for the light of hope you continually shine across your communities.

The final series of Regional Hub Meetings for this year will take place during the week beginning Monday 5th July. Please look out for the registration link and Agenda that will be issued shortly.

Please also make a note that the Education Service is currently organising a diocesan Year 6 Leavers’ Mass and the recording of this will be shared with you on Monday 5th July so that you can join us in celebrating with our young people and praying for them as they take this next step in their educational journey. The Mass will take place in St Mary and St Michael’s Church in Tower Hamlets and celebrated by Fr Willie Skehan.

We have recently issued information about the Education Service Racial Justice, Equality and Diversity CPD Programme. The first session attracted an attendance of over 150 delegates and the feedback and evaluations have been very positive. The next session on 'Developing Advocacy in Schools' has already attracted a large number of delegates and will take place on Thursday 8th July. Booking details can be found in this edition of the Bulletin and I would encourage you to book as soon as possible.

Wishing you every blessing for the week ahead,


crestPeter Sweeney | Interim Director

Wednesday 9th June 2021

Dear Colleague in Catholic Education,

Welcome to the final session of this academic year and I hope that you were all able to find time to relax and enjoy the recent half term.

The next half term will undoubtably continue to present many challenges for all schools, not least because of the rising infection rates in some areas due to new variants of the Covid virus, added to the usual activities at the culmination of any academic year and the continuing pandemic restrictions we are living under. However, I have every confidence that the strong and often courageous leadership you have demonstrated in your service to your school communities over the past year will continue to carry you through. Matthew Chapter 5 provides a source of encouragement for us all,

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’ 

Following along this theme of shinning lights, which you all are to your communities, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the schools who were nominated in recognition voluntary service to their wider communities in the recent Caritas Social Action Awards, as Bishop Paul commentated, you have all been 'The Good Samaritan' in your service.

I would particularly wish to extend the congratulations of the Education Service to the following schools and individuals who were identified as winners of two of the five award categories:

School Social Outreach Award (Primary) - St Philip Howard Catholic Primary School, Hatfield, and

School Social Outreach Award (Secondary) - Newman Catholic College, Susan Grace

More information on these awards can be found by following this link.

I would like to thank the colleagues who made contact with me prior to half term to express an interest in the Deputy Director for Education position. We recognise that the application window was very short  and have therefore taken the decion to readvertise this postion to provide a more appropriate application timescale for this important position. Details of the Job Description, Person Specification and Application Form can be found via this link to the Education Service website.

Should anyone wish to discuss the position in person, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Wishing you a very pleasant and fruitful week,


crestPeter Sweeney | Interim Director 

Dear Colleague in Catholic Education,

Good morning to you and I hope that you are all safe and well.

Thank you for those who were able to attend our series of Regional Hub Meetings last week and I hope that you found the information shared informative. One item I brought to your attention last week was the advert the Education Service currently have out for a Deputy Director for Education. This is a new role with a new job specification, and I would encourage you to consider this position as it will help shape the work of the Education Service moving forward. Please share amongst your colleagues and do not hesitate to contact me should you wish to discuss this further.

Deputy Director of Education

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a suitably experienced and qualified individual to join the education team of the Diocese of Westminster. As Deputy Director, you will be a key member of the Education Service and work in partnership with over 200 schools and colleges in the diocese. We are blessed to have many successful schools, with strong leadership which provides very strong outcomes for our pupils, professional development for our staff, and a rewarding experience for our governors. However, we are not complacent and there is still more to be done to ensure all our schools meet the needs of all our children, particularly those who are vulnerable or disadvantaged, all of whom deserve the very best. Whatever your background, you will come with a deep understanding of schools and school improvement whilst promoting equality of opportunity. This is a key area of development for our schools in recognition of the diverse population within our school communities.

We are looking for an exceptional candidate to match the ambition we have for our schools and their leaders. We expect the successful candidate’s attributes to reflect the virtues expected of our Catholic leaders and someone who will lead the formation of current and future leaders throughout our diocese. They will be a high-quality leader who can demonstrate their impact on developing future leaders and building capacity with the system who is now seeking a broader challenge to influence outcomes for children throughout our diocese and beyond.

Click here for more information

APPLY ONLINE HEREI am also pleased to be able to share information from St Mary's University, (Twickenham) with you about a new School Leaders Alumni Association. The Institute of Education is establishing a Simmarian Network for Headteachers and Senior Leaders working in schools throughout the world. The Association will celebrate and nurture best practice to provide international and national network links. Graduates of St Mary’s who are in Headship and Senior Leadership roles are invited. For further information, visit

You can access the St Mary's flyer to the left by clicking on the image. You can distribute this  amongst your associates and communities.

Wishing you a very pleasant and fruitful week,


crestPeter Sweeney | Interim Director 

5th May 2021

Dear Colleague in Catholic Education,

Good morning to you and I hope that you are all safe, well and were able to find some time to switch off an enjoy the long weekend.

Next week we will be hosting our series of Regional Hub Meetings, the registration links and agenda will be issued later this week.

In this edition of the Bulletin, you will find information on a follow-on session from our Leadership Conference by Professor Paul Miller in the form of a workshop. This is designed to support leaders, staff and governors in their journey to anti-racism. The session will provide a space for difficult conversations about race / racism and its effects on individuals and groups; reflect on racism in education and other sections of society and will provide opportunities to explore what developing a ‘race conscious’ and 'race inclusive' language and practice could look like.

Next week (10th – 16th May) is Mental Health Awareness Week and provides a great opportunity for all education settings to normalise the discussion and promotion of mental health and wellbeing amongst pupils and staff.

The Bulletin also contains an update from SPEC who are now welcoming residential booking for the academic year 2021-22.

Please also search out the links to the Education Service new Twitter and Instagram accounts.  The links to these can be found at the top of the first page of the bulletin to both of accounts.

Thank you for all you are doing to provide the support and leadership our children, staff and the wider communities we serve so desperately during what remains a very difficult period for us all.

Wishing you every blessing for the week ahead,

crestPeter Sweeney | Interim Director 

21st April 2021
Dear Colleague in Catholic Education,
First of all, welcome back and I hope you were able to prioritise some time for your own wellbeing over Easter and found time to relax during the holiday period with family and friends - where and when it was allowed of course. The term ahead will, we hope, gradually see the easing of government restrictions due to the covid pandemic, but as always with the summer term in schools and colleges, there is much to be done in addition to managing the additional burdens covid has brought upon your schools. Please continue to ask for help or support should you need it, either through your attached advisor or by contacting the education service directly.
The first edition of the 'Witness to the Word' for the summer term is attached, and we hope that you will find the range of information helpful to you and your school communities.
In addition, the following recently published information and links are all noteworthy for all school leaders and governors.
Governance Update April 2021

The Governance Team at the Department for Education has published the Governance Update for April 2021. Inthis edition, the DfE have created one version to cover both maintained schools and academy trusts – the articles are listed below for information.

1) Governing and trust boards meetings and visits into schools
2) National Tutoring Programme: subsidised tutoring available
3) ECF Statutory Induction Guidance Change
4) Honours nominations for those who work or volunteer in school or trust governance
5) Governor and trustee recruitment: Inspiring Governance and Academy Ambassadors
6) (Academy trusts only) How to complete or update your governance contacts on Get Information about Schools (GIAS).

The full details can be accessed at this link: School governance update: April 2021 - GOV.UK

Changes to the Ofsted Handbook
Ofsted has published a revised section 5 handbook, detailing how it will inspect schools later this term and, in the future, to take into account the impact of Covid. The most substantial changes relate directly to Covid including:

  • the potential need for a longer conversation before the inspection
  • how data will be used, given there is none for 2020 or 2021
  • how schools have adapted the curriculum, and how they are supporting catch-up
  • requirement to have taught the new RSE curriculum and to have consulted on and published a RSE policy
  • attendance of eligible pupils during lockdown.

The main changes and updated handbook can be read in full here. As a reminder, inspections will typically be section 8 monitoring visits of inadequate schools, schools with two ‘Requires Improvement’ gradings, and good schools not inspected within five years; and will not normally result in a change of grade.


The Education (National Curriculum) (Key Stages 1 and 2 Assessment Arrangements) (England) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Order 2021

The DfE published on Tuesday, The Education (National Curriculum) (Key Stages 1 and 2 Assessment Arrangements) (England) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Order 2021 and comes into force with immediate effect.

This Order makes amendments to the secondary legislation relating to primary school assessments. The full text of the order can be accessed via:

This order has the effect that the Key Stages 1 and 2 assessments, checks, tests and related obligations, which would otherwise have taken place in, or in relation to, the 2020-21 school year (and in the case of the phonics screening check, the summer term of the 2020-21 school year) are no longer legally required.

Please also take note of the CPD sessions available this term, links are provided in the Witness to the Word, and also remember to register in advance for the next series of Regional Hub Meetings that take place during the week commencing Monday, 10th May.
Thank you for everyone who was able to attend the Leadership Conference just before Easter and I would also like to thank the members of the Education Service who made it all possible. The feedback received to date has been very positive but if you have not been able to complete your evaluations, please submit these as soon as possible so that we can provide links to the session recordings. And finally, I would like to thank all the schools who were able join the celebration of mass on Friday 26th March with Fr Chris Vipers, and those who were able to access the recording to celebrate in your final week of term. I must also thank Deacon Liam Lynch for his cinematography and technical knowledge to bring this to fruition. There were 1243 live links on Friday 26th, most of which would have been streamed to a class with 25 or more pupils and staff in attendance - that is potentially a congregation of over 25,000, true inspiring, thank you all for being part of something very special.

Wishing you and your school communities all the very best for the week ahead.

Peter Sweeney

crestPeter Sweeney | Interim Director

Witness to the Word Bulletins


Wednesday 16th March 2021


Dear Colleague in Catholic Education,

Good morning to you and I hope that you are all safe and well.

Next Tuesday, 23 March, has been identified as a National Day of Reflection marking the anniversary of the first national lockdown. So much has happened of the past year that it is sometimes hard to contemplate when we stop and think. Cardinal Vincent Nichols has issued an email today to schools with his own message and a statement from the Presidency of the Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon which has also been attached to this bulletin.

Our Leadership Conference takes place next week, starting on Tuesday 23rd March through to Thursday 25th March. Thank you to all the schools who have already booked a place, for those who still have it on your 'to do' list, please make your booking as soon as possible as we need to ensure we have the correct capacity for breakout rooms and other aspects of the conference. We understand that for many of you this may be the last week of this term, however, please also remember that by booking a place you will also have access to all the recording of the presentations from the conference to review or watch at a later date.

Also attached is a copy of the Education Service Summer Term CPD programme. Please distribute and promote amongst you school leaders, teachers and governors.

The Education Service has recently launched our new Twitter and Instagram accounts.  The links to these can be found at the top of the first page of the bulletin to both of our accounts. If you are on Twitter or Instagram, please look us up and follow our new accounts.

And finally, Happy St Patricks Day.

May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.

Education Service
Click Here - Witness to the Word School Bulletin 17th March 2021

Click Here - Statement on National Day of Reflection

Click Here - Witness to the Word School Bulletin 3rd March 2021


Wednesday 3rd March 2021


Dear Colleague in Catholic Education,

First and foremost, I hope that you are all safe and well.

I know that since the notification from the Government to allow all pupils to return to school from 8th March, you will have been busy planning and looking forward to welcoming them back. Thank you for all the care, support and leadership you have provided for your school communities over the past year and for that which you will also be providing over the coming weeks and months to re-establish the conditions that will enable your pupils to flourish and fulfil their potential. Understandably, there will still be many challenges to face in the weeks ahead. Please be assured that the Education Service is ready and available to support you and your school communities as we work together to lead our schools out of the current pandemic.

Please find attached the latest edition of the Witness to the Word as well as the full programme for our Online Leadership Conference scheduled for 23rd - 25th March.  This is a conference that is relevant to all levels of leadership, staff and governors.  We are delighted to have secured so many high quality speakers and will be recording sessions and sending to those schools who participate following the conference to share and use with their staff.   Please can we encourage you to purchase your school ticket as soon as possible here.

Please also save Friday 26th March at 10am in your calendars as we hope you and your school communities can join us for a diocesan wide online Mass celebrated by Fr Chris Vipers.  Further details will follow.

Do not hesitate to contact us for any help, support or guidance you may require.

With best wishes,

Peter Sweeney

Education Service

Wednesday 10th February 2021


Dear Colleagues in Catholic Education,

As we approach the end of another extraordinarily demanding half term which has continued to test the resolve of school leaders, teachers, support staff, parents, governors and most of all the pupils in our schools, I wish to express our enormous thanks and gratitude for all you continue to do for the communities you serve. Without your dedicated care, compassion, inspiration, guidance and hope for the future, they would not have made it this far.  It is tremendously uplifting and humbling to witness the positive actions you are taking as school leaders to bring the best out of those in your care, and the support you provide for each other. It is our connection to each other, our hope for a better future, and our deep sense of purpose that will prevail. Please ensure you make time to stop over half term, take a deserved break and get some rest. Although we do not yet know what the next half term holds for our schools and communities, together we will make it through. Thank you for all you continue to do, for putting others first and instilling hope in those you lead.

Lent begins during the half term holiday and is a precious time in the Church's year as we reflect, take stock, and look both inwardly at our own lives, and out into the world seeing everyone as our neighbour. I am reminded of a quote from Plato, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." In these recent times of struggle, we especially look to the sacrifice on the Cross as our inspiration, acknowledging those making their own sacrifice in the care of others, and remembering those we have lost and those who are ill amongst our communities. I would particularly ask you to remember in your prayers a former Headteacher of The Saint John Henry Newman Catholic School, Mr Barry Nash, who sadly passed away this week following a short illness.

This year our Leadership Conference has moved 'Online' and is open to all Staff and Governors. We have been able to gather an excellent range of speakers on a variety of topics that will inform, support and craft your future leadership. The Conference theme is inspired by John's words, "If we walk in the light, as he is the light, we have fellowship with one another." 1 John 1:7

The links on the booking website provide information on each speaker, the topics each will cover, and a suggested audience for each presentation although they are open to everyone who wishes to attend. More details on booking instructions can be found via the link below.

We are also delighted to share with you the news that Fr Chris Vipers (Director of the Agency for Evangelisation) will celebrate a live-streamed mass for all diocesan schools on the morning of Friday 26th March at 10:00 am to which all schools are invited. (Joining details and information will follow after half term).

With best wishes and every blessing,

Peter Sweeney

Education Service

Diocese of Westminster

Click Here - Witness to the Word School Bulletin 10th February 2021

Click Here - Witness to the Word School Bulletin 27th January 2021

Wednesday 27th February 2021


Dear Colleague in Catholic Education,

Good morning and first and foremost I hope that you are all safe and well despite the extremely challenging circumstances you are having to work under because of the current restrictions imposed as part of the third national lockdown.

The global pandemic has highlighted the role of public service and the value of education in society. It has been remarkable to witness and hear over recent says how you have responded so magnificently to open your schools to vulnerable children and those of critical workers, despite the challenges presented by the higher numbers of children identified as being able to access provision. At the same time, delivering high quality remote learning at such short notice is an amazing achievement given the circumstances and time you have had to respond. You continue to step up in the hour of need and demonstrate outstanding care for your communities, thank you.

We do not however underestimate there are still many challenges still to face and In the human endeavour of reciprocity, the education service is ready to support you and your school communities as we work together to navigate a safe passage for our schools through the current pandemic.

Please find attached the first edition of the Witness to the Word for 2021 and do not hesitate to contact the department for any help, support or guidance you may require.

With best wishes,

Peter Sweeney

Click Here - Witness to the Word School Bulletin 13th January 2021

Click Here - Coronovirus Novena

Click Here - Witness to the Word School Bulletin 9th December 2020

Click Here - Diocesan Regional Hubs 2020/21