On behalf of the Education Service may I take this opportunity to wish you and all your school community a Happy New Year and every blessing in this Year of Mercy. Our theme will be Year of Challenge: Year of Mercy. There are many challenges facing education and by using the graces instilled in us through the Year of Mercy we must channel the challenges into opportunities that benefit the whole of Catholic education in all of our schools and colleges.
This year will see the publication of a new Education Bill and already we know that the government is committed to extending and developing its Academy programme. The Diocese is undergoing a consultation exercise with schools to help formulate a new policy and direction regarding Academies. We currently have 17 Academies in our Diocese under our Trusteeship and this number is likely to grow further. Our strategy centres on providing a regional hub model in the form of GMATs to help ensure solidarity and subsidiarity for Catholic education. We know our success lies in local collaboration and partnerships and we need to use this expertise to manage the economies of scale our schools and colleges face this year. Following the consultation processes a clear and consistent policy will be published for all school governing bodies to refer to. The Diocese is actively working with the DfE to develop its sponsorship capacity for those schools deemed Requires Improvement or Special Measures. A key element of the work of the Service this year is to provide the policy and steer schools require in a time of increasing change and challenge.
The Education Service has expanded its capacity to help support Religious Education and Catholic life in Primary education. The recent appointment of Mrs Theresa O’Sullivan as our fourth Primary RE adviser has allowed us to ensure all of our Primary schools have a designated adviser. We welcome Theresa to our team.
The Secondary Advisers are working very closely with all our Secondary Schools in preparing them for the new Religious Education GCSE to be introduced later this year. It is important that all RE departments work closely with the Diocese and comply with the directive set out in Diocesan instruction. This is a wonderful opportunity to revitalise our understanding of our own faith and that of others.
This term will see a significant rise in the amount of Section 5 and Section 8 OfSTED inspections and we wish all our schools involved every success in the weeks ahead. We are very proud of our achievements and recognise the whole development of the individual child as well as the academic progress of a school or college.
The Education Service has been so impressed at the quality and diversity in many of our schools in producing their very own Door of Mercy. The colour and vibrancy in conjunction with values and intentions set out in the Year of Mercy directive have made such a difference in such a short space of time. We look forward to seeing more of them and schools engaging with many of our proposed activities in our published Year of Mercy handbook.
Finally, the Education Service wishes to express its deepest condolences to the Locke family and the community of Cardinal Pole Catholic Secondary School, Hackney who lost a valued member of staff in tragic circumstances during the Christmas holidays. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Thank you for all you are doing for our students, staff, governors and families in Catholic Education. We hope the term ahead bring us all many graces and blessings to all our communities.
With best wishes
Director of Education
Section 48 Inspection Reports
The Education Commission expects all school websites to include the latest Section 48 Inspection Report. It has become apparent that some schools are failing to do so and this needs to be rectified as soon as possible. It is important that parents (and prospective parents) have easy access to the report. All inspection reports are available on the diocesan website and schools should consider including a link to the diocesan website on the school site.
For the appointment of a Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher or teacher in charge of Religious Education, the Diocese must be invited to send a representative to the Appointments Panel. This applies to all Catholic schools, including Academies and Independent schools. Please ensure that the shortlisting /interview dates are set by prior arrangement with the Diocese. In the first instance, please contact Mike Pittendreigh, who has responsibility for senior appointments.
The official guidance from the Church in this matter is attached for your attention.
Contact: Mike Pittendreigh email@example.com
Staff Recruitment Project
For some time now we have been trying to find a way of assisting schools with what is becoming one of their biggest problems: recruiting suitable staff. We have been forging closer links with the training colleges, ensuring better representation at recruitment fairs and working with some recruitment agencies.
Last summer, we were approached by Eteach, a major player in online leadership, teacher and support staff recruitment. They offer web-based advertising which reaches a similar number of potential applicants as TES. What is different is that it is far cheaper, controlled by the school, and could achieve wider coverage by linking to the diocesan website. With the discount we are being offered, a primary school could pay for a whole year’s advertising (of as many posts as they like) for less than the cost of a single advert in the TES.
Last term we ran a pilot with a dozen of our schools and the outcomes were very positive. I would urge you to have a look at the attached information about the project, and consider coming, or sending a representative, to an introductory meeting to be held at Eteach’s headquarters late January (at a time of your choice) or alternatively Eteach have offered to visit each school individually. Contact details are at the back of the attached brochure.
We really would urge you to give this serious consideration: we think it could make a real difference in our schools. If you would like to discuss any aspect of this with someone first, please contact Mike Pittendreigh, who is leading on this project.
Contact: Mike Pittendreigh firstname.lastname@example.org
Certificate of Catholic Practice
Following discussions with the Catholic Education Service regarding the Certificate of Catholic Practice, this updated advice is being sent to schools for the 2017-2018 admissions round. The purpose of this is to ensure that the Certificate of Catholic Practice is used correctly. The only measure of an applicant’s practice is provision of the Certificate of Practice. All other references to practice must be removed from the admission arrangements.
This advice applies only to schools using ‘practising Catholic’ as a criterion.
Schools are requested to do the following:
- Re-word any ‘practising Catholic’ criterion to read. ‘A Catholic child with a Certificate of Catholic Practice.
(The existing definition of ‘Catholic’ should be retained in the admission arrangements)
- Delete the definition of ‘practising Catholic’ from your definitions.
- Insert the following definition: “Certificate of Catholic Practice” means a certificate given by the family’s parish priest (or the priest in charge of the church where the family practises) in the form laid down by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
- Delete any other reference to ‘practising Catholic families’.
Please do not hesitate to contact the diocese if you have any queries.
Please note that it is not necessary to send the Certificate of Catholic Practice to the local authority as it is a Church form, not a school form.
Admissions Timetable Update
Admission policies and Supplementary Information Forms now need to go to the next governors’ meeting for determination. This must be done before the end of February. Schools that have gone out to general consultation must wait until the end of their consultation period, but will still need to consider representations and have the arrangements determined before 28th February. Determined arrangements must be sent to the local authority by 28th February, letting them know what, if any, alterations have been made.
Information on admission appeals must be on your school website by 28th February 2016. If the local authority is conducting your appeals then simply say that information must be obtained from then. If governors are arranging the appeals then the following information must be provided:
- Date by which appeal must be lodged (27th May 2016 is recommended);
- From whom information may be obtained, with address and email details (including Coram website);
- To whom the appeal should be addressed.
If governors have any queries please contact email@example.com
Sixth Form/Year 12 Admissions
Please remember that some subjects will have the new grading by 2017-18 therefore reference should be made to this in Sixth Form admission policies.
There has been a rise in the number of schools contacting the diocese for information on the handling of complaints and the implementation of the diocesan procedure. A course for governors and senior staff has been arranged for Saturday 2ndJuly 2016. Full training on the use of the complaints procedure will be given and there will be a mock complaints hearing. It is recommended that all members of the school’s complaints committee, the Headteacher and the Complaints Officer attend this training. To register please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For individual school complaints training (or for groups of schools) please contact email@example.com in the first instance.
Good News Slot
(Please note: this section of the Communique 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 firstname.lastname@example.org )
Many Congratulations to St Mark’s Catholic School, Hounslow who were listed as the 13th best Comprehensive school in the country based on GCSE and A level results in the Sunday Times Schools Guide;
St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Cadogan Street, has been ranked in the top 1% of schools in the country for ‘value added’ to a child’s education. This has now been for 3 years running – 2013, 2014 and 2015.