From Frances Bartlett 4th May 2020:

Dear Colleagues

Firstly, my hope is that you and your families are safe and well.

I know, however, from personal contacts with me and with ODBE colleagues that this is not the case for everyone, and that many have experienced the tragic loss of loved ones during this pandemic – whether related directly or indirectly to Covid-19, and that this is so hard to bear. Those who are suffering in whichever way all remain in our thoughts and prayers and please take the time needed to receive the love and support of the diocesan education community in times of personal anguish. Thank you so much to those friends and colleagues who have taken time to offer their fellowship to those suffering.

We continue to wait for ‘next steps’ for our schools and academies in bringing children and young people back safely to education under one roof. At ODBE we maintain the contact we have with the DfE, governance bodies, Trusts, LAs, and the Church of England Education Office in order to add our perspective to the national picture and to plan how best to support schools moving into the remains of the summer 2020. At a local level we know how invaluable the support of many individual Governing Bodies and Trust Boards has been to Headteachers navigating their way through this situation. Much of this has been through informal pastoral care and consideration for the well-being of schools’ leaders. Thank you, please do continue this!

Governing Bodies should be assured that recruitment to foundation governor vacancies continues (albeit in an altered format) and that applications can be submitted in the usual way. As Church House is currently closed, we have a process where hard copies posted to us can be scanned and emailed to Tracy Richardson, but you may choose to submit applications directly to her to avoid this step in the process which is taking place weekly. Tracy’s email address is tracy.richardson@oxford.anglican.org .  School Link Advisers are on hand to answer questions from Clerks or Chairs, in the event that they are furloughed, an alternative contact is provided through email.

The ODBE Excellence in Governance modules due to take place over the summer will be moved to an online delivery method available by the end of May. We realise that this is not the same as attending a meeting and the networking opportunities that go along with that forum, and so governing bodies part way through EiG will be contacted separately to offer entry into the governance programme for next year alongside the completion of virtual modules this summer. Ruth Bennie will be leading this training and will contact schools shortly about this.

Likewise, we have been asked about the Headteacher Appraisal process for the end of the 2019/2020 cycle. We are seeking advice from the DfE about the impact of the current disruption on this process and wish to build this into our subsequent advice to schools. To this end, Advisers with dates for appraisal reviews in June and July will contact schools in order to re-book these for the autumn term. We do not wish to pre-empt national advice and so feel it wise to schedule all meetings this year in the autumn; along with a revised charging schedule for the 2020/2021 cycle in recognition of the current pressures.

With any Admissions queries please do continue to contact Mrs Christine Jones (christine.jones@oxford.anglican.org) who will be pleased to explain how appeals processes are being handled. This is a large volume of work that has been adapted and her support remains in place, as ever.

The schools’ section of the ODBE website continues to be updated and we are pleased to receive suggestions and items for this. Starting on Monday 11th May there will be a series of reflections using the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ for use by schools. The Adviser Team is working on a resource which will complement the existing website resources around ‘Finding Your Way’ back into school. We anticipate this to be ready shortly to support school leaders in planning and preparation for leading their church school in the current context. I will, of course, email this out as soon as I can.

Please do continue to take great care in the service you provide for your children and young people. We are indebted to the work and commitment of school leaders and do not underestimate the pressures brought to bear.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way. Never let yourself think that you are wiser than you are; simply obey the Lord and refuse to do wrong.  (Proverbs 3: 5-7)

With very best wishes

Frances


Links to various other church resources.

The Church of England website has a range of helpful material for praying and worship at home and other contexts

Guildford Diocese has produced some helpful material which may be of use to you. These can be found on their Covid-19 Resources pages

Westminster Abbey offers these Teaching Resources to everyone.