The Trustees of the Archdiocese welcome the Secretary of State’s announcement (28th April) on the Government’s vision for all schools to be part of an Academy Trust in a strong family of schools as this is completely in alignment with our Diocesan Education Strategy. As we continue to move forward with all our schools, the DES team will offer support and guidance on conversion and will also continue to work closely with the Regional Schools Commissioner and his team.
As it remains the expectation of Trustees that all schools will join a Family of 3 – 19 Catholic Schools, the ‘try before you buy’ element of the government's announcement will not be applicable to our Catholic Schools. Additionally, as a group of Catholic schools, we believe that trust and open communications will align values so that meaningful long-term relations are formed and developed over a long period of time. This will result in sustainable and outstanding Catholic education across the Archdiocese. Therefore, close working relationships (based on our schools belonging to the diocesan family of schools), and due diligence required during the conversion process, will not require the use of a temporary Service Level Agreement.
Hopefully the half term break will provide us with some early summer weather and the opportunity to spend time outdoors and cherish the gift of creation. There are so many things on a daily basis we take for granted in our created world, we just know that it is there and we can continue living and existing side by side, but never appreciating what we have. Gratitude is a special gift. Perhaps the Pandemic has taught us the need to cherish this gift - grateful that we are coming through this challenging time and realising that some of the simple things in life are most important such as family and friendship and the gift of the world.
During the break try and think of three things that you have been truly grateful for during these past months and offer your gratitude to God. Take time to notice the beauty of creation and consider ways in which we can continue to protect the beauty of our world for the generations to come.
We wish you all an enjoyable and restful half term. The DES Team
GENERAL INFORMATION Farewell to Members of the DES Team As with schools, this is the time of year when the DES has changes to the team as staff move on and new staff join us. John Dwyer will be retiring this summer after the tremendous work he has undertaken on behalf of the Archbishop and Trustees in leading on the academy strategy for the past 6 years. Working alongside the DES team as well as DFE, RSC and the ESFA he has successfully assisted over two thirds of our schools to be part of a multi academy family of schools, and leaves our diocesan academy strategy in a very strong position. Mark O’Connell and Yvonne Salter Wright will be continuing this important work next year.
Sharon Leahy, our long-standing finance officer well known by many of you, is leaving at the end of this academic year. She has been a valued member of the team for over 20 years and will be sadly missed by us all. We will be seeking to recruit a replacement for Sharon over the coming months.
Tony Quinn has been appointed to a school improvement post in the Our Lady of Lourdes MAC starting in September. We thank Tony for the splendid work he has done in a number of our schools over the past two years which have faced significant challenges. He has made a significant difference to the future of these schools for which we are most grateful and we hope he continues his excellent work in his new post.
Justine Lomas left the DES earlier this term to join the Painsley MAC and we will be seeking to replace her in due course but in the meantime, Ted Hammond is the acting Deputy Director for School Improvement until the end of the year.
We wish them all the best for the future and thank them all for their service to the DES and the schools across the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
Teacher Recruitment The DFE have recently announced changes to the rules for teacher recruitment from EEA & Switzerland, inc. Ireland Recruit teachers from overseas - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Commonwealth Games Funding for Schools There is significant funding available for any schools in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Coventry and Solihull to engage in projects around the Commonwealth Games to be hosted in Birmingham. Expressions of interest should be completed and are available through the following website: https://bep.education/
CATHOLIC EDUCATION Certificate of Thanksgiving for Dedicated Service to Catholic Education This certificate may be awarded to those individuals working in Diocesan schools, including governors, who have made a special contribution to Catholic Education over and above what would normally be expected on the occasion of their retirement. School leaders, including governors, may nominate suitable candidates for this award and will need the support of the parish priest/chaplain of the school. Further details and the application form can be accessed here https://www.bdes.org.uk/information.html
Inspections Update The Catholic Education & School Improvement teams are intending to host a virtual Inspection Update briefing on 29 June at 1:30pm to update colleagues about procedures for Sections 5, 8 & 48 from September 2022. Leaders can reserve up to 2 places per school by clicking here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYkdeuuqD0qG9YBzb6lXNfbqoDkCY6nVCc6 Please note that pre-registration is essential and the briefing will run, subject to guidance being received by the DfE.
INSET Full details and information about the full suite of INSET courses, Cluster and Partnership Group Meeting will be shared later in the term.
SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT As ever the first element of the summer term has been incredibly busy in schools although not business as usual. The focus for all schools has been addressing the issues resulting from the periods of lockdown rather than preparing pupils for the normal testing arrangements from reception to Year 13. Our schools have been beacons of excellence in terms of re-engaging pupils with their learning and we can only pray for a year without disruption from September.
Regional Schools Commissioner To support our pupils, Andrew Warren – Regional Schools Commissioner, has highlighted to the DES Officers the importance of schools engaging with the National Tutoring Programme. Andrew highlighted that up to Easter take up had been disappointing and if schools require additional details, please contact Ted Hammond. Andrew also encourages schools to consider summer school provision.
OFSTED As colleagues will be aware Ofsted have begun a programme of returning routing inspection. During the summer term this will be a focus on schools graded less than Good and those Good schools who have not been inspected for a long time. The definitive plans for September are not yet available although in a conversation with Heather Simpson, HMI, she did confirm that during the suspension period from March 2020 the Ofsted clock has stopped ticking. Consequently, it is even more difficult to predict when individual schools will be next inspected.
School Funding School Funding continues to be a significant issue for schools, and we accept that with the numerous funding streams available for school improvement it is challenging to keep on top of the opportunities. Again, if there are any concerns please contact Ted Hammond.
A Date for the Diary We are hosting CFO/ SBM virtual Network meetings in the summer term, meetings are scheduled for the 15th and 17th June.
MAC Monitoring Meetings A common theme that emerged from MAC monitoring meetings was development of an Estates Strategy. Guidance will be issued to all schools and academies before the end of the summer term based on the DfE Good Estate Management for Schools (GEMS) guidance.
Another common theme to emerge from the MAC monitoring meeting was development of a Marketing & Communication Strategy to improve and secure pupil numbers in schools. Please do get in touch with Toni Guest at BDES if you would like a copy of the documents which the CFO of Painsley MAC has kindly offered to Share.
Statutory Testing & Compliance The Statutory Testing & Compliance audit spreadsheet and guidance workbook have been issued to all schools and academies recently with a return deadline of the end of the summer term.
LEADERSHIP AND GOVERNANCE Leadership Conference on Friday, 18 June 2021 – After the Storm: the God who speaks to us now We are excited that after two previous postponements, we are now able to confirm that we will be holding the Leadership Conference on Friday, 18 June 2021 at the ICC in Birmingham. This will be a hybrid conference. While there will be limited in person attendance (with one place being available for each school and two for each MAC), we hope that those senior leaders, governors and directors who are not able to attend in person will be able to join virtually. Further information will be sent directly to Chairs of Boards and Local Governing Bodies, CSELs and Headteachers/Principals.
Director Engagement Thank you to all those Directors who were able to attend the Chairs and Vice Chairs Network which was relaunched on 12 May 2021. It was a productive session and we are grateful for the considerable expertise and commitment our directors bring to our Multi Academy families of schools. In addition to setting the dates for these Network sessions, we hope to also be in contact in relation to the induction programme for new Directors in the coming weeks.
Governor Induction Also, thank you to those who attended the online Governor Induction Sessions which we hope you found helpful. We will be scheduling further sessions for these new governors on and will circulate dates once they are available.
School Admissions Please be aware that a revised version of the School Admissions Code will come into effect on 1st September 2021. Further information and guidance to schools will be circulated as soon as it can be drawn up and schools will need to prepare for any changes during the summer term so that they are ready to implement them as soon as schools re-open in September.
ACADEMY STRATEGY Multi Academy Developments Our Lady and All Saints, 13 schools across Solihull, Birmingham and Warwickshire officially formed on 1st April. Along with Abbey, who joined St John Paul II, there are now 137 schools in our 17 Multi Academy Companies. Recent announcements from the Secretary of State, Gavin Williamson and Baroness Berridge, continue to support the development of our Academy programme.
While we welcome the Secretary of State’s desire for all schools to be part of a family of schools in a strong Trust, the ‘try before you buy’ suggestion does not apply to Diocesan schools. More details here: Birmingham Diocesan Education Service - Home (bdes.org.uk) We continue to engage with schools on joining current MACs and are working on mergers to strengthen education provision for our pupils. “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said” Luke 1:38