Educational Service Protocol
‘Our schools are places of a covenantal agreement, where we stand together with families, parishes and local communities, to create social solidarity: those bonds between us in which true human flourishing can take place. A Catholic school that does this is a sign, a quasi-sacrament. This, I believe, is one of the key callings of a Catholic school in education today; to be an arena of genuine covenantal cooperation for the common good.’
Archbishop Vincent Nichols . Heythrop Lecture 2013
Archbishop Vincent Nichols . Heythrop Lecture 2013
The purpose of the Diocesan Education Service is to advise and to act on behalf of the Bishop of Wrexham and the Diocesan Trustees in matters relating to education and Catholic schools and to encourage the process of life-long learning. The activities it undertakes aim to assist the Bishop in fulfilment of his responsibilities for education in his Diocese and to give effect to that provisions contained in the Trust Deed.
The Education Service is accountable directly to the Bishop and the Trustees, with the Education Commission playing a key part. The Diocese is committed to providing an effective service to all of its schools and to date has borne a large part of the costs of this provision. More recently, part of the burden of costs was agreed with the schools to be shared through a common formula, to meet the demands of central funding. This agreement reflects the trust and the covenant relationship
The Diocesan Vision for Catholic Education
Catholic education is rooted in the mission of the Church and inspired by the vision of the human person created and called by God into the fullness of Life. In consequence, our Catholic schools are distinctive in their approach to education and in their aspirations for young people. The source is the living faith of the community, the teachings of the Church and the rich legacy of experience in education gained over centuries.
It is important that Catholic schools are maintained, protected and developed for the future. There are increasing pressures on this provision not least in terms of the Government plans for the future but in the means we have to build and maintain schools to the highest standards and in every aspect. That commitment includes attracting, training and developing staff to serve the distinctive work of our schools. Governors, head teachers, senior leaders and all staff must reflect and renew their work and with children, families, parishes and local communities learn better how to share and give witness to Catholic life and values in the work of education.
In common with other dioceses in England and Wales, the education service carries out a range of activities in order to discharge its duties to education. The activities complement those of the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CESEW) and these are undertaken alongside the work of the Diocese's national and local partners for education, including Welsh Government and the Local Education Authorities. For example, Canon and Civil law effectively necessitate Diocesan representatives to give advice throughout the selection process for key staffing appointments. The interests of Diocesan schools collectively are also represented by the Diocesan Director of Education at inter-diocesan meetings, national consultations on proposed legislative change or in local authority scrutiny committees. In short, the activities are intended to focus on particular education duties and in partnership with the CESEW and government bodies.
In the light of a recent request to explain the range of activities provided by the Education Service, the following summary document is put forward as a description. It is not exhaustive and some parts of the work require more emphasis at any given time.
Responsibility of Diocese
Those who are in charge of Catholic schools are to ensure, under the supervision of the local Ordinary, that the formation given in them is, in its academic standards, at least as outstanding as that in other schools in the area.
The Diocese of Wrexham takes this responsibility seriously and sees the real demands being made on all schools but especially with regard to those schools that are less strong in their progress. The Diocese believes that to be of benefit to the schools, the education service will encourage optimism, collaboration and mutuality across the schools. At the same time the officers will actively support schools that for whatever reason find themselves struggling and in need of support.
The following description makes more explicit our activity with the schools. Each school is part of a family of Catholic schools and governors recognize these responsibilities. Some schools share resources and all are willing to share their initiatives and good practice and readily work together.
Head teachers and governors often share their expertise for the good of the diocese as a whole.
The agreement for this diocesan service has the following principles at its heart.
Ø Diocesan schools are part of a larger faith community with families and parishes which they are expected to hold in mutual trust, regard and service.
Ø Catholic schools are expected to provide and reach the highest standards in Catholic education and in so doing they promote the dignity and worth of every person, human flourishing in every child and with particular care for the poor and the disadvantaged.
Ø Catholic schools will show generosity of spirit within their own schools and across the Diocese and beyond in the wider community.
Ø When one part of the family is struggling and needs more attention help will be concentrated on that school or project. Other diocesan schools may be asked to give support to a struggling school.
Ø Inevitably there are matters in schools brought to the attention of the education service that require special discretion and confidentiality. These matters will be given appropriate help and support.
Ø The level of support given to a school over above will be kept under review.
Ø Any funds contributed to the work of the service will be ear-marked for education.
There are reductions in the level of support available to schools by local authorities but there is an increase in monitoring and accountability. There is also a requirement on all schools in Wales rapidly, to raise its educational standards.
FOCUS AND RANGE OF SERVICES:
The work of the Education Service seeks to ensure that our diocesan Catholic schools are maintained, protected, developed and adapted for the future. It therefore aims to:
1. Maintain and guide diocesan schools so they offer the highest standards in Catholic education, by way of;
a. a common understanding of the distinctive nature of Catholic education’
b. development of Catholic leaders at all levels of the school.
c. dialogue and engagement with the theology of education.
2. Engage with and challenge Catholic schools to work with agreed diocesan priorities including;
a. Responding to the challenges facing education,
b. giving witness to the Church for all families
c. challenging injustice wherever it is found.
d. Inviting and embracing new possibilities in education
3. Offer advice support and training for governors and head teachers on
a. School leadership issues, which may include, for example, staffing matters, Catholic identity, religious education, self-review, admissions, pastoral issues.
b. through termly meetings with new head teachers during their first year in post;
c. appointment of mentors for new head teachers;
d. professional development advice & support;
4. Attend and support Governing Bodies via,
a. Full governors’ meetings (attendance at least once a year)
b. Committees e.g. M&P.
c. Special purpose meetings. e.g. performance management.
5. Shape and provide a programme of diocesan training and in-service to include,
a. An annual diocesan CPD programme, with planning and delivery
b. Links with wider training across Wales and North West Dioceses
6. Catholic life, Religious Education and Catholic school practice through:
a. Meetings with senior staff, religious educators and chaplains and 1 formal visit
b. Curriculum development, research, reflection and sharing.
7. Oversee School Inspection Planning, including Denominational inspection Sec 50.
a. Training of Inspectors. Framework and self-evaluation. Quality assurance, inspection meetings with heads, staff & governors, parents meetings. Section 50 - post Inspection meetings with schools and action plans
b. Estyn: Update inspection training: Contact and pre-inspection report. Feedback Meetings.
8. Strategic planning for 21st Century schools
a. Through planning and negotiation with Trustees, Local and Welsh Government and across the Catholic community and beyond.
b. Through effective planning, negotiation and delivery.
c. Through asset management, accountability and the purposeful use of resources, including CRAMP funding for the upkeep of the school
9. Maintain effective links with Local Authority Meetings through,
a. Working with Welsh Government, Consortia and local authorities to ensure the standards, maintenance and development of Catholic schools across the Diocese.
b. Work with local authorities, governors and heads of schools to be accurately informed on school targets, improvement and action plans.
c. Director Meetings, Scrutiny meetings, Budget Forum
d. Admissions Forum, SACRE Meetings.
e. Regional Authority Network GWE
10. Attendance and involvement in meetings with:
a. Welsh government , EWC, Estyn
b. Liaison with CES and other Dioceses. Telephone helpline - provide advice and information for Head Teachers and Governors on key issues.
c. Scrutiny meetings about 21st Century development
d. Directors Meetings (DSCs Conference) 3 per year.
e. NBRIA Meetings, Directors of Religious Ed, curriculum
f. Secondary Faith Leaders Conference July each year.
g. Give full account of the work of the Service to the Bishop and his Trustees and to the Diocesan Education Service.