Grand opening of a new classroom at Westcott

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Pictured outside their new classroom are pupils from Westcott CE Primary School with Bishop Alan, Anne Davey, and Westcott Headteacher Barry Grace.

Pictured outside their new classroom are pupils from Westcott CE Primary School with Bishop Alan, Anne Davey, and Westcott Headteacher Barry Grace.

A SCHOOL that has increased in size from 17 pupils to 92 in 10 years has celebrated the opening of a new classroom.

Parents, teachers, governors and pupils all took part in a special assembly in the church next door to Westcott CE Primary School in January. The service was led by the Revd Mary Cruddas, the Vicar, and the Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham. Children told the story of the history of the school and led prayers before Diocesan Director of Education, Anne Davey, officially opened the new classroom. The classroom, which cost almost half a million pounds, was needed because of the expansion of the school. The demand for places had increased as new housing developments were completed and more families moved to the Buckinghamshire area.

Oxford’s Ofsted success

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EVERYONE at the Oxford Academy was proud of the achievements that were recognised by Ofsted in a recent report.

The school, which is sponsored by the Oxford Diocese, the Beecroft Trust and Oxford Brookes University, was praised by inspectors for the strong progress made by disadvantaged pupils and the “rigorous and valid assessment” of pupils’ progress. The report described pupils as polite and respectful and went on to commend their behaviour in lessons and meeting their teachers’ high expectations.

The school, which is sponsored by the Oxford Diocese, the Beecroft Trust and Oxford Brookes University, was praised by inspectors for the strong progress made by disadvantaged pupils and the “rigorous and valid assessment” of pupils’ progress. The report described pupils as polite and respectful and went on to commend their behaviour in lessons and meeting their teachers’ high expectations.
The Oxford Academy was ranked 14th out of 6,382 secondary schools in England based on its Progress 8 score – a new government performance measure. Post16 also remained at a high level, with the 6th form being graded “good” once more. Niall McWilliams, Headteacher, who took over in 2014 said: “This is a fantastic achievement, which shows how far we have come in such a short period of time.”

The Oxford Academy was ranked 14th out of 6,382 secondary schools in England based on its Progress 8 score – a new government performance measure. Post16 also remained at a high level, with the 6th form being graded “good” once more. Niall McWilliams, Headteacher, who took over in 2014 said: “This is a fantastic achievement, which shows how far we have come in such a short period of time.”
This success comes on the back of a report by the Oxford Diocese’s Deputy Director (School Effectiveness) Fiona Craig. She noted in a report that 93 per cent of Church schools in the Oxford Diocese were judged as good or better by Ofsted, in March 2016 for new inspections. Fiona’s report stated: “This against a national average of 73 per cent is an excellent figure.”

This success comes on the back of a report by the Oxford Diocese’s Deputy Director (School Effectiveness) Fiona Craig. She noted in a report that 93 per cent of Church schools in the Oxford Diocese were judged as good or better by Ofsted, in March 2016 for new inspections. Fiona’s report stated: “This against a national average of 73 per cent is an excellent figure.”

Uniting science and religion

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SCIENCE and religion are being imaginatively brought together in the Diocese of Oxford. the Door reports on events and initiatives that are making this happen in schools, churches and science centres.

by Berry Billingsley

“How do we know what’s true?” “How do know what’s real?” “Can robots ever equal or surpass us?” When we were teenagers some of us enjoyed science fiction as a way to escape with some of the big questions of life, the universe and everything. Inside each story there seemed to be coherence and logic about what was taking place. lasarconf2016-photo4

Meanwhile, at school, lessons followed lessons in a jumbled, disconnected series of subjects and, at the end of the year came an exam. Once the exams were over you could put aside everything you’d learnt. Today, schools, and educationalists more widely are realising that it’s not enough to help children pass individual exams in science, English, maths and a language; we also need children who can be insightful and critical about what is presented to them as truth and knowledge.

To develop this kind of insight, young people need opportunities to work across disciplines – and also to learn about the natures of our disciplines and their different strengths and weaknesses.
In this new field, those teachers and educators who have given thought to how science and religion relate, and to how those relationships can be best explained to young people are arguably leaders among those grappling with this issue.

Perhaps this helps to explain why a conference held at the end of October in Oxford on “Science, Religion and Education” drew a capacity audience of more than 90 delegates and featured presenters from eight countries (pictured right). The event was organised by the LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion) Project at Canterbury Christ Church University and the Department of Education at Oxford.

A common theme was that the teaching of science and religion are kept very separate. Science teachers – even if they have faith – are not comfortable with bringing or addressing questions that relate to religion into their lessons as they fear they would go beyond the scope of the subject. Meanwhile teachers of the humanities subjects often don’t feel at home with scientific concepts and language.

So how do we convey ideas about how science and religion relate to children – and are some analogies and metaphors more helpful to them than others? One metaphor that stood out is the metaphor of the kettle – and the question, “Why is the kettle boiling?” One answer is that the element is heating the water. Another is that I want a cup of tea. Those aren’t the only answers – and once we start to think there could be lots of answers which don’t necessarily compete and which indeed add more richness to the answer in one discipline alone. A similar question for younger children is: why did my doorbell ring?
This event was the beginning, we hope, of more collaborations and international discussion.

Professor Berry Billingsley is a Professor of Science Education at Canterbury University and the lead investigator for LASAR. Email berry.billingsley@canterbury.ac.uk or go to www.lasarproject.com The Revd Mark Laynesmith, Chaplain at Reading University, and Dr Keith Chappell, a lecturer at Reading whose own research has included ecology and science and society, particularly science and religion, are involved with LASAR.

Starting with a bang – the big one – at Christ Church Cathedral

by Jacqueline Holderness

Christ Church Cathedral Education Department recently hosted God and the Big Bang (GTTB). Magdalen College School and the Oxford Academy visited the cathedral for the event. This national initiative originated in Manchester in 2011, motivated by the findings of LASAR (see above).

Youngsters experiment with science at the Christ Church Cathedral LASAR day.

Youngsters experiment with science at the Christ Church Cathedral LASAR day.

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GTBB is now being led by Michael Harvey, who launched Back to Church Sunday in 2004. Michael now works with scientist Stephanie Bryant from the Faraday Institute, Cambridge, and enjoys encouraging Christians to care for the natural world. GTBB is now being led by Michael Harvey, who launched Back to Church Sunday in 2004. Michael now works with scientist Stephanie Bryant from the Faraday Institute, Cambridge, and enjoys encouraging Christians to care for the natural world. GTBB is funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation. The project involves schools across the UK and supports teachers of science and RE to help students grapple with current ideas surrounding science and faith. GTBB inspires young people to embark on their own journey of discovery, creating a generation of excited, curious thinkers who will remember the event for many years to come.

Earlier this year, more than 120 students from the two Oxford schools gathered in a marquee for a full-day, conference style school event, which started with a keynote talk by Andy Fletcher, the President and CEO of “Life, the Universe and Everything” – a non-profit organisation dedicated to working with international schools and communities, offering seminars on 20th and 21st century physics. His talk was challenging, entertaining and inspirational and certainly started the day with a bang – the big one.

The students were then divided into four groups of 30 for workshops on topics including quantum mechanics, fractal geometry in nature and building earthquake-proof structures. Speakers included Tim Middleton and Anna Pearson (University of Oxford) and Naomi Brehm (University of Durham).

They explained their own journeys through science and faith and covered questions such as: “Why does God love science?” and “Where is God in an earthquake?” The workshop sessions were interactive and involved resources, from marshmallows and skewers, to flowers and one penny coins.

The students engaged well with the complex content and asked very profound and intriguing questions. In the final plenary the discussion was so lively and meaningful that a few students lingered on, reluctant to relinquish this opportunity to consider the big questions of life.

As well as the staff from each school, we were joined by Professor Allan Chapman of Wadham College, Edmund Newey, Sub- Dean of Christ Church, and Samantha Cragg, Director of the Oxford Schools Chaplaincy. Everyone was so impressed by the quality of the event it is hoped that GTBB will return to Oxford next year.

If your school is interested in hosting GTBB in collaboration with Christ Church, contact the Cathedral Education Officer: Jacqueline.Holderness@chch.ox.ac.uk.

 

‘Cosmic Chemistry’ with ‘Crossing the Gap’ in Harwell and Chilton

AS the Door went to press, the organisers of a project that attracted national Church funding were getting ready for an event that would see Professor John Lennox talk on whether science and God can mix.
John is an Emeritus Professor of Maths at Oxford University and an internationally renowned speaker on science, philosophy and religion. He was due to speak at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory on “Cosmic Chemistry” as part of the “Crossing the Gap” project organised by the Harwell and Chilton Churches. Funded by the national Scientists in Congregations initiative, “Crossing the Gap” is a project with three strands.
Dr Carina Lobley, a protein biochemist and one of the organisers, said: “On the last Friday of every month in term time we meet for Family Science Club. We have already met twice and spend time doing some hands-on science followed by reflecting on how this helps us understand a passage from the Bible in a new light. On alternate Thursdays we run a science discussion group which is a space to explore the relationship between science and the Christian faith and understand how a variety of people view this interaction. Each term we will have one keynote lecture, which is the opportunity to hear from well-known speakers to underpin our confidence in the compatibility between science and Christian faith.”

Dr Carina Lobley, a protein biochemist and one of the organisers, said: “On the last Friday of every month in term time we meet for Family Science Club. We have already met twice and spend time doing some hands-on science followed by reflecting on how this helps us understand a passage from the Bible in a new light. On alternate Thursdays we run a science discussion group which is a space to explore the relationship between science and the Christian faith and understand how a variety of people view this interaction. Each term we will have one keynote lecture, which is the opportunity to hear from well-known speakers to underpin our confidence in the compatibility between science and Christian faith.”

The Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey, the Rector of Harwell with Chilton and a practising GP, said: “We live in an area that is famous for cutting-edge science and technology, and many of our church members are practising or retired professional scientists. We realised, though, that many people, both church members and in the wider community, are uncertain about the relationship between science and faith – there is so much in the popular media about how they are supposed to be in conflict. We strongly feel this is not the case – science is a very Christian activity to be involved in, exploring and stewarding God’s wonderful creation, and discovering more about God in the process. Many leading scientists in history today are full of faith, and convinced that both the discoveries of science and the Christian faith as revealed in the Bible are true. Through our ‘Crossing the Gap’ project we hope to help people of all ages and levels of knowledge to explore how this can be.”

Professor John Lennox speaks at 7pm on Tuesday 29 November. Admission is free but book at http://tiny.cc/cosmic. There will be a buffet from 6.30pm. The Laboratory is on the Harwell Campus, OX11 0FA.

School inspection marks major improvements at St Mary’s, Banbury

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Bishop Colin, (left) presents a Barnabas Bible to St Mary's CE School after a SIAMS inspection marks improvements. From left are Bishop Colin, Sarah Di Giorno, Co-ordinator for RE and Collective Worship, Headteacher Victoria Woods, the Revd Philip Cochrane, the Vicar of St Mary's Church, Banbury and Anne Davey, Director of Education at the Diocese of Oxford.

Bishop Colin, (left) presents a Barnabas Bible to St Mary’s CE School after a SIAMS inspection marks improvements. From left are Bishop Colin, Sarah Di Giorno, Co-ordinator for RE and Collective Worship, Headteacher Victoria Woods, the Revd Philip Cochrane, the Vicar of St Mary’s Church, Banbury and Anne Davey, Director of Education at the Diocese of Oxford.

THE appointment of Victoria Woods, a ‘dedicated and visionary head’ has been cited in a recent inspection report that praises St Mary’s CE Primary School in Banbury.

Victoria, who has just celebrated her first anniversary as Head of St Mary’s, was delighted that the five-yearly National Society Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS) produced such a positive report.

“I am thrilled the Inspector noted the excellent behaviour and attitudes of pupils as well as our hardworking and committed staff who have really embraced the changes we have introduced,” she says.

Chinese education officials visit Church House

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by David Locke

Delegates from the Qingdao Education Bureau at Church House Oxford.

Delegates from the Qingdao Education Bureau at Church House Oxford.

TODAY Church House Oxford was visited by a delegation of high-ranking Chinese government officials from the Qingdao Education Bureau.  This consisted of  headteachers and leaders who were keen to learn about academies and the growth of Multi Academy Trusts. Specifically, they were interested in The Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust (ODST) including its Christian ethos and our strategy for raising standards.

The visit was hosted by David Locke, Chief Operating Officer, and David Cousins, Director for Schools, from ODST. ODST currently has 18 schools and has support from the Regional Schools Commissioner for continued growth and development. During the visit a number of the Chinese delegation were fascinated by the portraits of former Bishops on the walls at Church House Oxford.  We explained the role of Bishops and how, as demonstrated by the holding of a Shepherd’s crook, that the position is one of leading and caring for the flock.  At this point the Chinese delegate responded “So, it is like the story of the 100 sheep in the Bible”.  We then were able to then discuss with them how, for the Church, and with our history of commitment to education and our Christian principles, it is so important that every child has access to a high quality education irrespective of their background or faith and, just as Jesus seeks the one lost Sheep, that it is important with The Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust that every child is cared for.

In the meeting that followed we discussed the changing education environment in this country and compared notes with our Chinese visitors.  We discovered a lot in common – including a shared concern that it is essential that we look after our teachers who are delivering so much and also the need to be intentional about developing the next generation of middle leaders and Headteachers at our schools.  The meeting ended on a very positive note and we look forward to how God might work in the future from this initial meeting.

Step into Narnia at Dorchester Abbey later this year

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DORCHESTER Abbey is being transformed into Narnia for an interactive exhibition and series of events this winter.

Visitors will walk through a rail of hanging coats to the cloisters, where the lack of heating and stone walls will contribute to the chilly, wintery feel of the beginning of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Before this they will have already been through an evacuation scene with gas masks and replica ration books from World War 2, recreating the experience of the child evacuees, Lucy, Peter, Edmund and Susan Pevensie, the main characters in the classic story.

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Fit for a queen: Margaret tries out one of the thrones as she prepares to transform Dorchester Abbey into Narnia.

“CS Lewis hosted evacuated children in his home in the Kilns in Oxford,” said Margaret Craig, the Abbey’s education officer. “He bought them fish and chips every so often and would take them to Blackwells to buy them books.” Margaret has been planning the exhibition, complete with workshops and culminating in a concert for schools, for 18 months.

Snow will gradually deplete as visitors move around zones, including Mr Tumnus’s sitting room, Mr and Mrs Beaver’s House, a sleigh for the White Witch and a large-scale lion’s head to represent Aslan. The exit will be through another ‘wardrobe’ of hung coats.

All ages are welcome to the free Tuesday workshops on 13 and 20 September and 4 and 11 October to make Aslan Sculptures and magic snowflakes. Schools are also welcome to book visits.

The exhibition runs from October 22 to November 22, 9am to 4.30pm. A closing schools concert is on November 22, 6.30 to 8.30pm.

Wanted: Margaret would still like to find a couple of old standard lamps, old rugs and coats, fairy lights, play crowns, swords and shields, an arm chair, bows and arrows, and various other bits and pieces. Volunteers are also needed for school groups and half term/ weekend visits, including anyone who fancies acting as an adult character from the book. For more information see www.dorchester-abbey.org.uk or email education@dorchester-abbey.org.uk

 www.narnia.com  www.facebook.com/TheChroniclesofNarnia

Narnia® is a registered trademark of CS Lewis Pte Ltd
THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE by C.S. Lewis copyright © C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. 1950

 

Pop UK bring the end of term alive in Standlake

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THERE was dancing in the aisles as children from Standlake CE Primary School performed seven songs they had recorded with charity Pop UK for a lively end of term concert.

After a short awards ceremony the headteacher Andrew Denham introduced Curly Clare from Pop UK who led the concert.

Watch a short video here:

See a selection of photographs here:

Worship without walls?

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CHILDREN from church schools took part in an RE contest e encouraging them to explore whether worshippers need buildings.

Cropredy  CE School in Oxfordshire, and Hazlemere CE School in Buckinghamshire, were the prize winners and were visited by their bishops to be awarded with plaques and cheques.

The acting Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher led an assembly at Cropredy, which gained the Key Stage One award. Teacher, Heather McIlwaine, said: “We started off looking at what the pupils already knew about worship, looked at what worship meant and compared our local churches.”

Pupils wrote poems, walked a labyrinth and designed a questionnaire for village parishioners as well as thinking about what makes spaces special, writing poems, creating stained glass windows and taking part in Forest Church style sessions. Bishop Colin presented the school with a plaque and a cheque for £250.

The Bishop of Buckingham, The Rt Revd Alan Wilson, presented a plaque and cheque at Hazlemere CE School, which won the KS2 award. There, a curate, a Hindu and a Muslim talked to children about worship. Pupils were given postcards for parents to give their views on worship and they looked at Church Without Walls in Milton Keynes and Open Doors, an Oxfordshire based charity that serves persecuted Christians.

Download a longer report by Susan Brice, the RE leader at Hazlemere.

Theresa May celebrates as Holyport CE Primary School joins ODST

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THE Rt Hon. Theresa May, the UK’s new Prime Minister, celebrated as Holyport CE Primary School, in Maidenhead, joined the Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust on June 17th. The occasion was the latest in a number of appearances Mrs May has made at churches and schools in the Diocese. The MP for Maidenhead took part in turf cutting at St Andrew’s, Sonning, where she worships. St Andrews is building a new oak framed church hall and office. She was also one of the dignitaries at the opening of the Tree House at White Waltham Church. The Tree House is a new building, for church activities and the community. Mrs May is one of the patrons of Project Rainbow – the scheme through which money for the Tree House was raised.

Estelle Morris and Bishop Alan in conversation in Newbury

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THE former education Secretary Baroness Estelle Morris encouraged Church school governors at a special Diocesan event.

Baroness Morris was in conversation with the Rt Revd Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, at the Regency Park Hotel in Thatcham. The event marked the culmination of a series of evenings for governors from the Diocese’s 284 church schools. The events, held over the last year were part of the launch of the Right Programme which aims to give schools a consistent framework for governing bodies.

Baroness Morris concluded the question and answer session with a story about a photocopier. “When I was an MP in 92 to 97, I went to photocopy something. I thought it was a really good photocopier, not like the one at the school I had taught in. It never broke down because someone always services it. If it breaks, no one puts a note on it saying ‘engineer coming in a week’.

“No one in my school was responsible for the photocopier. “No one in my school was responsible for the photocopier. It led me to work on a paper on workforce transformation in schools, freeing teachers to teach. It took a former teacher to put that on the agenda.”

Church school governors listening intently to Baroness Morris.

Church school governors listening intently to Baroness Morris.

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Baroness Morris with Bishop Alan

 

 

A taste of pilgrimage

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Swallowtail pilgrimageforwebTHE Swallowtail Pilgrimage in Chinnor gave 33 children the opportunity to visit their village’s three churches this summer.

The youngsters were guided by retired bishop the Rt Revd Brian Skinner, and the Revd Maggie Thorne around St Andrew’s, where they learnt about Labyrinths and the pilgrim shell. At Chinnor Community Church they were told the story of Jonah and his story of straying from the right path. At the Methodist Church they sang actions songs about the Christian journey.

Children enjoyed the experience. Lara said: “I liked that there were so many of us, it felt like a real pilgrimage.” Aaron said: “St. Andrews church was peaceful. We listened to music and got to think about people that have died in our family.” Teddy said: “I loved that we got food like a real pilgrim would have.”

The morning concluded with everyone tucking in to a picnic lunch and pilgrimage biscuits made by Year Two children.

Double praise for Hailey CE School

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INSPECTORS from both Ofsted and the Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS) praised the efforts of staff at Hailey CE School, in West Oxfordshire.

Ofsted inspectors judged the school to be ‘firmly good’ and highlighted many strengths including good pupil progress, strong leadership, good quality of teaching, excellent pupil behaviour and highly effective safeguarding.

SIAMS judged the school to be outstanding commending its vision and drive and for the cultural development of its pupils as well as the strong, supportive and caring relationships between all members of the school community, based on the school’s values of love and tolerance.

Debbie Davies, head teacher, said: “At Hailey School we instil strong moral values in our children, helping them develop confidence and independence as well as becoming kind and respectful individuals. This is balanced with a requirement for consistently high teaching standards and excellent academic progress for every child.”