Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust praised by Ofsted

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Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust (ODST), which comprises 33 schools in Oxfordshire and Berkshire, has been recognised for its strong values, leadership and outcomes for children, after being selected as the first multi-academy trust (MAT) to undergo Ofsted’s newly-introduced Summary Evaluation.

Anne Davey and Ian Elkington. Photo: Jennifer Payne

Ofsted inspectors visited ODST between 8-11 January 2019 to conduct the whole-trust review, which included meeting with central staff and trustees, visiting schools and speaking to many headteachers and governors. Five trust schools were also inspected in the six months prior to the review, with positive reports.

A letter to ODST, published by Ofsted on 6 March, states: “The trust’s ‘common vision for the common good’ permeates all aspects of its work’, and recognises its ‘commitment to preserving schools’ individual characters’. It highlights the ‘empowerment’ felt by headteachers and governors, who describe ODST as ‘a listening trust’ and value the level of responsibility and freedom they have, for example, to ‘design a curriculum suited to the needs of their pupils.”

The report notes that: “leadership and teaching are effective” and strengths in the early years, phonics and key stage 1 were identified in school inspections. Inspectors also highlighted the steady increase in pupil attainment at key stage 2. Ofsted also found that:

  • Children in ODST schools are kept safe through a ‘strong culture of safeguarding’.
  • Trustees have ‘effective oversight of finance, steering the trust skilfully through a challenging economic climate.
  • Communication at all levels is a strength of the Trust’, and collaboration between schools, particularly within the five local hubs, is growing.

ODST Chief Executive Anne Davey and her team were praised for displaying “high levels of professionalism balanced with warmth, care and respect”. She said:”I am delighted Ofsted has recognised the impact that our focus on people has had on outcomes for the children in our care. This letter illustrates how our approach is highly valued by schools and communities. We’ve welcomed this chance to showcase our trust, having already dedicated 2018-19 to consolidating the way we work before taking on any more schools. We are already developing our practice to ensure all children make the best possible progress from their starting points, along the lines that Ofsted recommends.”

Schools expert Tony appointed as our new Director of Education

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An experienced headteacher who has worked both nationally and internationally successfully turning around several schools has been appointed as the new Diocesan Director of Education.

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Even more Church schools celebrate ‘Outstanding’ success

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ANOTHER 28 of our Church schools have been awarded special plaques to celebrate being classified as Outstanding by SIAMS. Read more

Caring for our Church schools

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AS she enjoys her last few months as Diocesan Director of Education, Fiona Craig tells Jo Duckles about the exciting challenges and opportunities that will face her successor. Read more

Budding legal eagles from Berkshire become national champions

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YOUNGSTERS from a Church school in Berkshire have been named as the national champions in this year’s Mock Trial Competition.

Second school governor conference at the River and Rowing Museum

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THE second annual diocesan School Governor’s Conference takes place at the Henley River and Rowing Museum next month.

Speakers will include Sarah Hubbard from HMI, Jane Martin, psychologist and Mark A’ Bear from NLG. The evening will also see governors who have completed the two-year Excellence in Governance programme presented with plaques.

The conference takes place on Tuesday 10 July, 6.30-9.30pm. To book email donna.finlay@oxford.anglican.org or call 01865 208272.

Reading, writing, arithmetic and Religious Education

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RELIGIOUS Education is regularly in the news. National reports have highlighted the difficulties with RE and religious literacy in wider society writes ANNE ANDREWS.

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Goring CE School pupils on song at annual Headteachers’ Service

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CHILDREN from Goring CE Primary School provided the choir for the Annual Service for Headteachers and Governors at Christ Church Cathedral.

Light was the theme for the event, which attracted hard working headteachers and school governors from Church schools across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. The Rt Revd Steven Croft, the Bishop of Oxford, preached and presided, with readings and prayers done by the diocesan schools team and heads and governors.

Headteachers, governors and schools staff enjoy worship at Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral.

Young musicians from Goring CE Primary School played during the service.

Jeanette Millward, headteacher at St Peter’s, CE Primary School, Cassington, reads the intercessions.

Children from Goring CE Primary School provide the worship.

 

Shine Winslow shine

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‘Let your light shine’ is the new message being shared at Winslow CE School. The Rt Revd Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, spoke on that theme at a special service attended by pupils, staff, and parents. The choir of St Laurence Church led by Derry French, their music director, joined in.

A competition saw 350 pupils design art work on that theme. The winners, Maisie from year five and Florence from year four, had their designs turned into bookmarks, produced by the nearby Waddesdon CE School. Special thanks were given to Waddesdon, a nearby secondary school and to the Revd Andrew Lightbown, who set up a chaplaincy from St Laurence Church to fund the bookmarks and support the school.

Cazz Colmer, head teacher said: “We are a school that is rated good by Ofsted and our inclusive Christian ethos welcomes all children aged three to 11. Each child is unique, reflecting some of God’s light every day in what they do and on those they meet. Each one will find excitement, discovery, warmth and friendship here in the glow of that light. These bookmark designs are just one example of our pupils flourishing as individuals and engaging with each other. Such light dispels all kinds of darkness, bringing clarity, hope and purpose to our school and to the local community”

Caption: Back from left, Derry French, Bishop Alan, Andrew Lightbown and Cazz Colmer. From are Alice, Rowan, Florence, Maisie, Darcy and Harry.

Headteachers – book now for the leadership course “every head needs”

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TIME is running out for headteachers to book onto a taster session for a course that gives them the chance to step back, further develop personal resilience and explore their leadership skills.

The event takes place on January 19 at the Wantage Convent and gives heads the chance to consider whether they would benefit from joining the 2018/19 Performance, Resilience and Support Programme.

Far from being a simple quiet day or retreat, the afternoon taster event provides a summary of the programme on offer with an opportunity to ask questions and provides a taster of the full course.  The full course offers a safe context to explore the successes and challenges of headship and supports heads in their own development and in their work of leading teams effectively to provide the best for the pupils in their care.

Christine Price-Smith, our diocesan school link adviser oversees the various programmes currently on offer to support headteacher well-being and professional practice. She says: “The diocese is completely committed to providing this as continuing professional development for our head teachers. Those who are already involved in the programmes are finding significant value in them and some are well into their fourth year.”

Feedback from headteachers who are currently involved  has been positive with one experienced head stating: “It’s what every head needs.” Another said: “I think this course should be compulsory for headteachers for their wellbeing.”

If you are a headteacher at a primary school in the Oxford Diocese who is interesting in this course, please contact christine.price-smith@oxford.anglican.org

School children celebrate St Frideswide

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A BERKSHIRE primary school and staff at Christ Church Cathedral teamed up to conduct a pilgrimage to celebrate the life of Oxford’s patron saint.

Yattendon CE Primary School suspends its teaching timetable one day per year to celebrate the life of a remarkable Anglo Saxon princess who fled to Oxford to escape the attention of Algar, the pagan king of Mercia.

Princess Frideswide healed many people and a well from the legend, which was reputed to have healing properties, is near to Yattendon and is the pilgrimage destination.
To celebrate the patronal festival each class spent the morning on creative activities inspired by the saint and were joined by history expert Ruth Buckley and Christ Church Cathedral Education Officer Jackie Holderness.

The younger children acted out the story of the princess’ adventures, while Years 3 and 4 played a game, which involved the children reading short extracts from the saint’s legend, written in verse. In the Cathedral, Edward Burne-Jones’ window tells the story in stained glass and the children had to match a laminated picture of the window to each verse.
The older children performed a group drama about the life of St Frideswide. After lunch the whole school gathered for the pilgrimage to the holy well for a service.

Jackie said: “While history and tradition are important, the story of Frideswide seems to resonate with the Yattendon children primarily as an example of witness. The children seem to appreciate her example of trust in God, to whom she had dedicated her life.

“They are also very aware of Frideswide’s compassion and kindness, courage and determination, and her desire for a contemplative and prayerful life.”

Photo: Children enjoy circle dancing during the day’s activities (Christ Church, Oxford)

Children enjoy reading on a new library with a difference

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CHRISTMAS came early for staff and pupils at St Laurence’s CE School in Warborough as their new library with a difference was literally driven into the school grounds.

The wheels on this bus don’t go round but it does provide a great library for children from St Laurence’s CE School, Warborough. Photo: Jo Duckles

Previously, a large bookshelf in the multi-purpose hall at the village school in Oxfordshire was hidden behind the stage. It was the only library facility.

Now pupils are excited as they board the brightly decorated bus, which has been decked out with bean bags, to read their favourite books.

“It gives us a new learning space as well,” says Nic Cooper, the headteacher, who spearheaded a fundraising campaign to buy the bus. “The Parents and Friends Association went out to the community to leaflet drop every house, asking people to buy a share in the bus. The fundraising really took off, everyone put their hearts and souls into it.”

Pupils are already enjoying the bus. Libby, nine, said: “I like it because it is bright and colourful.” Libby says she enjoys reading Jacqueline Wilson books because of the comedy in them.

Taylor, eight, says: “I like that you can come here and enjoy reading.” Arthur, eight, added: “I just think it’s great and different that our new library is a bus.” Arthur says his favourite books are the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

Refurbished buses are proving a popular way of increasing learning spaces at CE schools. In April 2016 the Door reported on a new library rolling into St Francis CE School in Oxford: www.oxford.anglican.org/watch-new-library-bus-roll-st-francis-ce-school-oxford/

In October 2015 a learning zone on wheels was driven into Earley St Peter CE School in Berskhire. Watch a video here https://www.oxford.anglican.org/learningbus/

Has your school found an innovative way to create a new library, gym or learning space? Contact Jo Duckles on jo.duckles@oxford.anglican.org or 01865 208227.