As we reach the half term break, we wish to thank you and your staff for all that you have done for your pupils and their families in these most challenging of times. Working closely with many of our schools on a one-to-one basis over these past weeks has shown the depth of concern that you have for the communities you lead and the generous commitment of your staff and governors.
Over these past weeks the DES has continued to work for and with our Diocesan schools and staff across the organisation continue to be readily available to support you. Whilst the Don Bosco House office remains closed, DES staff continue to be remotely accessible via e-mail and phone.
Next week sees the start of the Season of Lent. It is the Church’s springtime preparing us for our annual celebration of the Easter mysteries of Our Lord’s death and glorious resurrection. Lent reminds us that our Christian journey through life is one that we do not tread alone, but always with our brothers and sisters in faith, conscious that the Lord Jesus is there to renew our strength in mind, body and soul. The Lent that is ahead of us is a new opportunity to recommit ourselves to our lives of faith, asking the Lord to bring us through this time of Pandemic in the sure knowledge of his liberating presence in our lives and in our world.
Please take some time for rest and relaxation in the half term break and an opportunity for prayer and spiritual reflection as Lent begins.
With the prayers and wishes of the DES team
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles Isaiah 40:31
DES Team News All of our team are listed on our website and their specific roles are outlined in order to assist you in contacting the best person to deal with any query that you may have. Please follow the link below to find out more: https://www.bdes.org.uk/the-des-team.html
Communication Members of our team that normally work directly with schools now have mobile numbers listed on our website and on the emails you may receive from them. This is to improve communication and accessibility of our team so that schools can get in touch as and when help is needed. Pastoral phone calls continue to be made to schools. Should it be requested or necessary for us to visit a school we will discuss the necessary precautions in place in the school to ensure that both the DES visitor and the school remain safe. This approach may vary from school to school depending on the circumstances of the school.
Don Bosco House For the immediate future Don Bosco House will remain closed for programmed events and this is likely to continue for the foreseeable future until such a time as it is safe to commence a phased return to use of DBH for meetings and training. This will depend on the circumstances at the time. In the meantime, we will continue to use alternative means of delivering training and meetings.
Website Please take time to have a look at the BDES website www.bdes.org.uk where you can find lots of useful information. It is our principle means of communication with our school communities. Please can you remember to click on the cookies link when looking at the website as this helps us keep a count of the numbers of people visiting the website and the pages people like to look at. This helps us improve our website for your future use. If you have any good news stories, pictures or artwork that you would like published on our website and/or displayed around Don Bosco House then please send them to email@example.com
CATHOLIC EDUCATION At the Headteacher Briefings it was announced that Ben McArdle (Senior Adviser for Section 48 Inspections) was joining the Catholic Education Team. We are delighted to formally welcome him to the team and to be working with him. All the Catholic Education Team continue to be available to give guidance and support to schools on any matters relating to RE, Catholic Life including Lay Chaplaincy, Collective Worship and Section 48. Virtual visits can be arranged as can Staff CPD. You can contact any member of the team via email or their work mobile. https://www.bdes.org.uk/the-des-team.html
Website pages Resources for Prayer & Learning and Shared Resources from Diocesan Schools: Don’t forget that these pages are being regularly updated to support learning both at school and at home. For Primary schools there are links for the Units of Work. Many thanks to those schools who are being so generous with their resources. It is much appreciated.
INSET It has been great to see so many teachers from across the Archdiocese participating in the INSET which has been provided (NQTs both Primary and Secondary, RE Subject Leader, Second in Department, Sacraments of Confirmation, Sacraments of First Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist, SEF Writing Workshop, Rainbows Bereavement Facilitator Training). It is a credit to schools that the development of staff in terms of Catholic Education has remained a priority despite the current circumstances.
The SEF Writing Workshop, Rainbows training, the final part of the Primary NQT Induction Course and further support for Secondary RE NQTs will all be taking place during the summer term.
Rainbows Supporting children suffering from loss or bereavement is very much central to the Catholic life of any school community but perhaps more so now than ever. By accessing the Rainbows training programme schools can have their own small team of staff members who can then help those children most in need of ‘peer support programmes which help foster emotional healing among children, young people and adults.’ If you would like to know more about Rainbows for either Primary or Secondary school, please contact Rebecca Brolly.
Section 48 Update The disapplication of the requirement for Section 48 inspections to be undertaken currently remains in place until at least the start of the Summer Term, though it is being kept under regular review by the DfE, in conjunction with the CES. No decision has yet been made regarding the order of priority that inspections should be undertaken once disapplication ends, but this will be communicated to you all once it has.
The Catholic Schools Inspectorate remains on-schedule to launch fully in September 2022. Prior to this, there will be a very limited number of pilot inspections in Autumn 2021 which will use the new national framework, though the vast majority of inspections will continue to be undertaken against the current Archdiocesan framework. Any school that will be involved in a pilot inspection will be notified that they will be so during the current academic year and will receive guidance from BDES on the new framework. At present, we await further information from the CSI regarding the precise nature of the pilot and how many of our schools they wish to use.
Although the overall structure of the inspection remains the same as that of our current framework, it is inevitable that there will be some differences, and these will be shared with you in a separate communication later in the term. Various training packages are currently being designed by the CSI to help school leaders, staff and governors familiarise themselves with the new national process; these will be delivered extensively throughout the Archdiocese in the months leading towards its launch to support you in your preparations.
Contact The School Improvement Team continues to support our schools. We have contacted all Headteachers at least once and are now starting the cycle gain. We have our schedule that we are working to but if you require a more urgent phone call please do not hesitate to contact us directly.
Our Team continues to meet with Heather Simpson HMI each half term and we will continue to share ‘Ofsted News’ when relevant. Depending on when the Ofsted Schedule returns to being fully operational, we are planning to run some workshops focussing on the Education Inspection Framework, you will, of course be kept fully informed.
BUILDINGS AND FINANCE
Free Finance Training Entrust have been chosen by the DfE to support schools nationally by delivering a suite of School Resource Management webinars – these are funded by the DfE and are completely free to all schools. The six webinars all relate to School Resource Management, with focus on Benchmarking, Procurement, Joined-Up Leadership, and Integrated Curriculum Financial Planning and spaces can be booked via https://www.educationspace.co.uk/SRM/. I would encourage all of our Finance Leads to take up the offer of this free resource.
Thank You to our MACs In Toni’s absence, Sharon, Jane & Amy want to thank all of our MACs for their work in completing the Land and Buildings Return and submitting their Finance information for the year 2019-2020 to the DFE by their respective deadlines.
Insurance We have been notified by Warwickshire, Dudley & Staffordshire LA’s that our VA schools no longer have the option to purchase Insurance from them as part of an SLA from 01.04.2021. We recommend that the schools consider the RPA RPA membership rules (publishing.service.gov.uk), purchasing additional cover as required, or alternatively, the comprehensive Insurance options available from Solihull MBC, via Steven Simonds, firstname.lastname@example.org.
SCA Bids 2021-2022 While we have yet to hear about our allocation, Sharon Leahy (email@example.com) is accepting bids from our VA schools until Friday, 12th February 2021.
Grants and Funding The website has been updated with further details of grant making Trusts and Foundations. If schools are not eligible to apply, you may find that your PTA is able to apply on your behalf.
Royalty Free Images on Websites, Social Media and all other School Publications We would strongly encourage all of our schools to check to ensure that you hold the correct copyright for all images used across your school media publications. If you would like to know more about finding Royalty Free Images, there is a short video on our website, Important Information - Birmingham Diocesan Education Service (bdes.org.uk), or for further details, please get in touch.
Happy to Help Finally, we would like to remind you that the Finance & Buildings Team are working from home, but happy to take your calls. Please do get in touch if you need to.
LEADERSHIP AND GOVERNANCE
Virtual Leadership Events and Conferences We hope that many of our Headteachers/Principals and MAC COOs/CFOs and Catholic Senior Executive Leaders (CSELs) have been able to take part in our Diocesan virtual retreat, A Heart that Trusts, on Friday 12 February 2021 with contributions from One Life Music and David Wells as well as our own Father Jonathan Veasey. This is followed by mass live-streamed from St Chad’s Cathedral in thanksgiving for all our leaders, governors and directors.
Also, if you haven’t already registered for and are interested in attending the Diocesan CSEL and Headteacher Residential Retreat from 18 to 19 November 2021 “The Challenge of Discipleship Today”, do please let us know.
Despite the continuing challenges to meeting in person, we do hope that our Senior Leaders, Governors and Directors pencil in diaries Friday, 18 June 2021 for the DES Annual Leadership conference which we are hoping to hold even if it needs to be virtual.
Free Governance Training Thank you to all the new governors who took part in the pilot online induction training at the end of last term. We had great feedback and are considering running this again in the coming weeks. For now, we wish to remind you of the free online governor training that is available through Formatio, linked to the Catholic Education Service. In addition to the three modules we previously communicated to you there are two further ones now available:
An introduction to Catholic education
The Environment and Language of Catholic education
This training can be accessed by going to http://formatio-ces.org/moodle/login/index.php Governors do need to create and account but there is a video on how to register. When registering, Governors should ensure that they register using the Birmingham Diocese code, but this is all explained in the video showing you how to register. We hope that these training modules are helpful to your governing body.
Updated Governor Application Forms Thank you for all leaders and governors who have been such positive ambassadors for our Schools and Multi Academies in increasing engagement in their governance. Please can you ensure that only the most current version of governance application forms are used. Please destroy any hard copies of application forms that you may have and download and use the latest version of the form for your school which will be available from our website at https://www.bdes.org.uk/governance.html (selecting voluntary aided or academies as appropriate). Applications submitted on old forms may not be able to be accepted due to them not being compliant with current requirements.
Admissions Please remember that all schools must have had their 2022/2023 admissions policy approved by governors by 28th February. It must then be sent to Rebecca Tonks (firstname.lastname@example.org), the local authority and be published on the school’s website by 15th March. The school’s annual appeals timetable must also be published by 28th February. These are requirements of the School Admissions Code.
New Teaching School Hubs and Congratulations On 10 February 2021, the government announced the 87 Teaching School Hubs that will create a network of centres of excellence for teacher training and development; replacing the previous network of 750 teaching schools which will draw formally to a close at the end of August 2021. Each Hub will cover a particular geographical area and there will be 12 Hubs covering the Archdiocese.
Very many congratulations to The Painsley MAC (Staffordshire) and St Joseph’s College Edmund Rice Academy Trust (Stoke-on-Trent) who have been awarded this designation. See https://www.gov.uk/guidance/teaching-school-hubs for the full list.
As the Hubs shift focus towards training and development for teachers and leaders (ITT, ECH, NPQ, leadership NPQs, early career teachers) and away from ‘school improvement’, MACs, working as part of a strong family of schools and in partnership with others, will become even more important drivers of systemic and sustainable school improvement.
Diocesan Education Strategy Work on growing the capacity of our Multi Academy Companies continues across the Diocese. Pope Francis and Dominic Barberi with eleven schools between them, came together on 1st Jan, retaining the Pope Francis name. Ten schools have now come together as of 1st February with the merger of St Nicholas Owen and St Catherine of Siena and will be known as Emmaus Catholic MAC. Working with the DES, more of our Multi Academy Companies are exploring the benefits of coming together and there will be further announcements during the year of the opportunities to enhance and support education provision across larger groups of schools.
Individual schools are continuing to convert and join our current MACs, with Trinity Catholic School, Leamington Spa, joining Our Lady of Lourdes on 1st Jan. There are a number of other schools being supported on their journeys to join current MACs over the next 6 months. The largest MAC in the Archdiocese, by pupil numbers, will form on 1st April when Our Lady and All Saints bring together 13 schools across Solihull, Birmingham and Warwickshire.
By September this year, 68% of all pupils in the Archdiocese of Birmingham will be educated in a Multi Academy Company. We are continuing to work in a collaborative way with a number of schools in order to achieve a comprehensive secure setting for all schools within a Multi Academy Company over the next 18 months.
If you wish to have an informal discussion on how we can support your Governing Body on this journey please contact Mark O’Connell at email@example.com
MAC Monitoring meetings Looking ahead to the Spring, the DES will be holding light touch and supportive MAC Monitoring meetings with the leadership of each MAC. This process will enable open and positive discussions which will lead to the identification of how the DES can best support.
“In the beginning the Word already existed; the Word was with God, and the Word was God” John 1:1