Happy St David’s Day!

Finally, I am blogging and on such an auspicious day as March 1st. It is apt that in a week that heralds the start of Spring we should have record-breaking Winter warmth, record cricket scores and a win for the Welsh rugby team! Additionally, today is national offer day for secondary school places for September.  Tens of thousands of young people and their parents will today learn where they will continue their education for the next 5-7 years. In many cases the pressure on school places will mean that many families will be disappointed with the news they receive.

Within such a significant process to a child’s future it is imperative that when the outcome is not the desired one that parents have guidance and support in deciding what to do next. Therefore, I would encourage any parents who today have not been allocated a place at their first-choice school to carefully read the information they have and consider their options. If they feel that they need further advice, then they should contact the admissions authority who have communicated the information regarding their child’s secondary school place to them. In many cases this is still the local council within which they reside, and this should be the first port of call at this critical juncture in their child’s life.

The sense of new growth as the seasons turn has been reflected this week in my professional experiences. On Wednesday, I attended my first Association of Anglican Directors of Education meeting at Church House, Westminster. One of the major items for discussion was a development entitled ‘Growing Faith’. This document was discussed and approved by the Church of England’s General Synod last week and signals a step change for the church and education. In particular, ‘Growing Faith’ provides a national imperative for local churches and schools to re-imagine their relationships and to focus on developing chaplaincy as a response to the concerns around child and adolescent mental health and well-being. Here in Oxford, we are deeply committed to supporting and nurturing the development of enhanced church/school relationships and effective chaplaincy models. In future blogs I shall be sharing some examples of our work in these two areas.

On Tuesday, I managed to spend some time in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. Firstly, I had the privilege of visiting The Oxford Academy and seeing and hearing how Andy Hardy and his colleagues are continuing the upward trajectory of the school. They in turn are well supported by an active governing body ably chaired by Roy Leach. From there it was on to Woosehill Church where it was a pleasure to spend time with headteachers, governors and clergy from the Sonning deanery in Berkshire. At a farewell lunch for Bishop Andrew Proud it was inspiring to talk to colleagues and listen to Bishop Andrew’s thoughts on leadership. There was then the opportunity to spend time with Hester Wooller, her governors and colleagues of The Keys MAT and to learn about their plans to grow this highly successful trust. Finally, I was able to check in with Bishop Alan Wilson in Buckinghamshire and discuss our initial thinking for the vision and strategic direction of ODBE in the next half decade. Three counties, two bishops, one day. There must be a film, a book or even a blog in that!

‘Till next week.

Tony