During Eastertide we rejoice in the promise of the Risen Christ to stay with us until the end of time. This promise takes on a special significance this year as we live through the consequences of the pandemic, the isolation it has brought to many, sickness and suffering and the disturbance to the pattern of our everyday life. As Catholic schools we so often speak of Christ at the Centre, or Christ at the heart of our school community. The times in which we now live prompt us to be more aware of this reality. In Jesus we discover love and life that is stronger than suffering and death, and a hope that can enlighten the darkest moments of our lives and experience of the world. It is the Risen Lord that we turn to with humility and confidence at this time. This truly makes sense of our belief of Christ being at the heart of our lives.
The appearances of Jesus after his resurrection instil fresh hope into the lives of his disciples and friends. The promise and gift of the Holy Spirit inspires and transforms their lives to be living witnesses of his resurrection and the gift of everlasting life. This hope has been poured into our lives by our Baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit. It enables us to be living witnesses and carriers of hope in our word today, summoning us to be missionary disciples who make Christ known by word and deed. At this time the work of all schools has dramatically changed, and we still don’t know what the immediate future looks like or when we will be able to resume our work together. In these challenging circumstances we ask Our Lord to strengthen our faith in his presence with us through prayer and our common concern for one another. We ask for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to guide our words and action at this time for the children and families in our care, as well as preparing for the time when we will be able to live and work together as Catholic school communities.
With prayers and good wishes for Eastertide.
DES Team News Please be aware that due to the ongoing national lockdown some of our DES staff have been furloughed until further notice. We shall be continuing to run our DES services as best we can under the current challenging circumstances. We will be sad to see both Yvonne Brennan and Angela Whelan leaving the DES team at the end of September but we are delighted to announce that Yvonne Salter Wright has been appointed as the new deputy director for leadership and governance with effect from the start of September. In the interim period she will be continuing her work with Yvonne Brennan and John Dwyer on the development of directors and the new role of Catholic Senior Executive Leader, as part of the diocesan academy strategy. 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 during the current lockdown and I would urge all members of our school communities to visit our website to keep up to date with information and changes, which are happening on such a regular basis at present. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Easter! Whilst life has taken a very strange turn for us all, it has been heartening to see all the work being undertaken to support the children of the schools within the Archdiocese. This is especially so in relation to their on-going spiritual formation and faith development. Our new website pages ‘Prayer and Learning Resources’ and ‘Shared Resources’ are proving very popular so please do keep on visiting them and sharing with us what you can. https://www.bdes.org.uk/resources-for-prayer-and-learning.html https://www.bdes.org.uk/shared-resources-from-diocesan-schools.html God continues to speak to us, and we have seen this through the many acts of generosity to those beyond our school communities. In particular, a big vote of thanks goes to those schools who have shared resources and equipment as well as making safety visors for the care workers.
Although many of the events for the campaign have now been deferred, we are maintaining a focus upon The God Who Speaks. Our scripture quotations for this term are: Summer 1: “These have been written in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God" John 20:31 Summer 2: “Go throughout the whole world and preach the Gospel to all people” Mark 16:15 INSET “Schools can still sign up for the free e-learning course for RSE. The course is currently with the DfE for final approval, which has been delayed due to staff being furloughed and off ill. However, we hope that it will be launched before the end of next week, just a few days later than originally planned https://www.catholiceducation.org.uk/images/RSHE_training_poster.pdf Support, Guidance and Advice Even though some of the Catholic Education Team and the Section 48 Team are furloughed at this present time, support is still available so please do get in touch if there is anything we can assist you with. You can email email@example.com or telephone 01675 464755 Ext:115. I am also happy if you wish to arrange a virtual school visit via one of the conference calling platforms.
The School Improvement Team has been keeping busy over these last few weeks during these challenging circumstances with continuing to work with our schools and preparing for numerous training events we wish to run in the Autumn Term. Part of our work has been to improve how we identify schools that fall into the Ofsted reinspection window. As you are aware, this is not an exact science and the Ofsted scheduling team love to keep us on our toes, but we hope that our new system will enable us to contact schools expecting inspection earlier and invite them to Don Bosco house and provide a bespoke Ofsted workshop. More details to follow… Our Section 48 colleagues have developed resources to support schools with Section 48 evaluations and these materials will be available soon alongside training which will be planned in the Autumn term. Ofsted updates have not changed and all we know at this current time is that inspections have been suspended. It is not clear when inspections will resume but I will let you know as soon as new information becomes available.
Leadership and Governance
We very much appreciate all that school leaders are doing to navigate these difficult times and to deal with the increased administrative and operational workload placed on them daily, whilst planning for a future that is still unknown. We recognise there are concerns in a number of our schools in relation to recruiting and appointing staff in readiness for the new academic year 2020 -2021.We acknowledge there is often a need for virtual recruitment processes for classroom based staff but have recommended internal interim arrangements, wherever possible, for protected leadership posts. We are grateful to those leaders able to delay their retirement or their move to another role to allow this to happen. We are also thankful to the many staff in schools who have agreed to take on additional responsibilities until such time as substantive leadership appointments can be made. However, we know that interim arrangements are not always possible and are supporting Directors and Governors in conducting virtual application and interview processes for protected posts where necessary. At present we are aware of a significant number of leadership opportunities in our schools. These include Head , Deputy Head and Head of RE posts and, as the Diocesan Academy Strategy increases in momentum, opportunities for Boards of Directors to recruit and appoint to the exciting and still relatively new role of Catholic Senior Executive Leader [CSEL – CEO equivalent]. Head Teachers, Governors and Directors are asked to contact Yvonne Brennan firstname.lastname@example.org or Yvonne Salter Wright email@example.com with any new queries they might have about their recruitment processes generally and to adhere stringently to safer recruitment guidelines when making appointments at all levels in our schools . Recruitment We received the following communication from the CES on Friday 24th April: The Department[the DFE] confirmed yesterday that guidance is about to be issued in relation to recruitment. As soon as that guidance is published we will provide further information. On the question of notice periods, we were told that the Department has taken the view that it should not interfere in schools’ contractual arrangements with their employees and that schools should co-operate with each other when it comes to having discussions about accepting shorter periods of notice from staff if this becomes necessary. Leadership Training and Events We are disappointed that we have had to cancel all our leadership training for the summer term but delighted that we will be able to come together for our postponed leadership Conference at the ICC on the 4th Dec 2020. All at the DES look forward to that date with great anticipation and hope. Admissions and Appeals There have been some changes in legislation on how appeals will be managed and heard during the Coronavirus lockdown. It is essential that schools who need to organise appeals contact Rebecca Tonks by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for amended guidance and information about appeal clerks and panel members. PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO ORGANISE ANY APPEALS USING ANY GUIDANCE PROVIDED TO YOU IN THE PAST. Please destroy any old guidance documents that you have and request the most current ones from Rebecca. Governance Governance application forms can still be submitted during the lockdown. Ideally these should be scanned and emailed to Rebecca Tonks (email@example.com). There will be a delay in the application being considered if the form is posted to Don Bosco House due to the office being closed. If applicants cannot obtain their priest’s signature on their form, please ask them to enter the name and parish of their priest on the form and Rebecca will contact the priest for clarification in order to avoid any further delay.
School Organisation (Academy Strategy)
As of 1st April 2020 we now have 119 Academies within 18 MACs. There are a further 24 Schools ‘in the pipeline’ with conversion dates planned for on or before January 2021. The DES is delighted to announce that this includes the formation of a new MAC: Our Lady and All Saints. This will incorporate 13 Schools and has now received formal approval from the Regional Schools Commissioner. The DES team continue to work with a number of MACs on the recruitment process for additional Catholic Senior Executive Leader (CSEL) appointments.
“These have been written in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God” John 20:31