Dear Colleague in Catholic Education,
During Lent the Church offers us, in the words of Pope Francis, “the soothing remedy of prayer, almsgiving and fasting.” It is also the time for the leaders in Catholic education in our Diocese to meet. For the first time in many years the Headteachers of both Primary and Secondary schools came together to renew their commitment to the teachings of Christ and refresh their skills and aptitude in being leaders of Catholic communities. This was a warmly received initiative.
Cardinal Nichols spoke to our Headteachers to thank them for the hard work they do in the mission of the Church. He said, “You are leaders of communities that take their character and their way of life from the gift of the Catholic faith, whatever the proportion of Catholics who may be present.” He went on to say, “Being Catholic means being open to the whole and being dedicated to the unity of the whole. Being Catholic means finding ways of expressing and deepening that ‘universality’, that Catholic character, and being ready always to embrace the other.” He warned of the challenges of being isolationist or going alone. He said,” the spirit of the Catholic leader is always to strive to see the whole, to see and serve its strengths and to expand that sense of belonging, of family, as far as possible. This does not mean the suppression of personal strengths or inventiveness. No. But it sees those qualities always to be put to the service of the whole, in a spirit of interdependence.” He focused on Catholic leaders being realists and that education, “always helps pupils and students to explore and embrace what it means to be human, what every human being has in common.”
The Education Service is grateful to the Cardinal, and all our guest speakers at this year’s Conference, for providing so much food for thought on our mission in serving the Church and the challenges we all face together as a Family of Schools.
Pope Francis in his Lenten homily reminds that a moment of grace will be, again this year, the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative, which invites the entire Church community to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation in the context of Eucharistic adoration. In 2018, inspired by the words of Psalm 130:4, “With you is forgiveness”, this will take place from Friday, 9 March to Saturday, 10 March. In each diocese, at least one church will remain open for twenty-four consecutive hours, offering an opportunity for both Eucharistic adoration and sacramental confession.
Supporting leadership is central to what the Education Service does and I wish to take this opportunity to remind Primary Deputy Headteachers and Primary Assistant Headteachers that spaces are still available for our Primary Deputy Headteacher / Assistant Headteachers’ Conference which will be taking place on Thursday 15th and Friday 16th March at the De Vere Beaumont Estate in Old Windsor. Registration is starting at 10:30 am. Departures will be following an optional tour of Eton College after lunch on Friday. The conference includes high quality speakers such as Raymond Friel and Sir Michael Wilshaw. Please encourage your staff to attend.
Tickets are available on our new Diocesan booking site (link below) which replaces Eventbrite- they are priced at £350.
One issue that arose from our conference was the importance of addressing mental health issues in schools and colleges. If Colleagues and Governors would be interested in exploring new opportunities as how best we can support schools in this area, please get in touch with me. I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you for all you are doing to support, promote and protect Catholic education across our Diocese.
With best wishes.
Director of Education
RE Assessment Update
The pilot is currently proceeding until Easter with those schools involved gathering resources and exemplars. They will feedback from April when the National Committee will make recommendations. The Bishops will review these recommendations at the end of June. Suitable INSET will be arranged at an appropriate time.
Contact: Trisha Hedley firstname.lastname@example.org