Space Makers: the contemplative toolkit for schools


We’ve just launched Space Makers, our contemplative toolkit for schools and Sunday groups. Space Makers is founded on ancient pathways and practices of meditation and prayer that have resourced, benefitted and healed Christians for generations.

Even more Church schools celebrate ‘Outstanding’ success


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


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

On the Money – schools


AS central government funding is squeezed, the range of services the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education provides for the 285 church schools it serves is becoming even more vital.
Just one per cent of money collected from parish share is used to fund ODBE and that funding is used to enhance the educational experience of thousands of children across the Thames Valley.

Fiona Craig, Acting Diocesan Director of Education, said: “We are working with clergy and parishes far more than we have ever done before. The DBE team is continuing to support our church schools to improve experiences for pupils. Local churches also have a real role to play in supporting their schools and where this works well schools are hugely appreciative of it. As more schools are becoming academies there is a real chance for churches to get together and employ chaplains and think about other support services.”

Types of church schools

OF THE church schools in the Diocese of Oxford, 62 are academies, 92 are Voluntary Aided (VA) and 131 are Voluntary Controlled (VC). VA and VC are still maintained by the local authority but with VA there is a greater church influence. Academies are independent state schools ultimately accountable to the Secretary of State.

For more click here.

Year Six pupils enjoy “Love Is”

ALMOST 400 Year Six pupils from church schools across the diocese enjoyed the annual “Love is” days of crafts, music and drama.

The event culminated in services at Greyfriars in Reading, Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford and Dorchester Abbey.

Children get creative making banners reflecting the four ‘loves’

For a full selection of photos and a video click here.

Church funds still helping as Bodicote school celebrates half a century

AT BISHOP Loveday CE Academy in Bodicote, a fund set up by the village church helps the school provide an excellent education for pupils.

Bishop Colin unveils a plaque at a new building at Bodicote’s Bishop Loveday Academy. He is pictured with Henry Blencowe, left, and Jane Ridley, right. Photo by Jo Duckles.

The fund was set up by the PCC of St John the Baptist, when the school, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, was built. It invites gifts from parishioners for “financing the new school and subsequent improvements.”

Jane Ridley, the headteacher, explained that among other projects, the fund pays for the Service Level Agreement with the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education. “It also pays more widely for the advancement of education within the parish,” she added.

One example is Achieve Maths, a resource that enables Year Six pupils to do maths online at home. “They can watch a little video clip of a teacher explaining how to do an exercise they may have done at school,” said Jane. “They do a quiz and take a test. Teachers and parents can easily see their progress.”

She explained how this is really useful when children are poorly. “One girl was off for three days. She was recovering but because she had been sick she couldn’t come back to school for 48 hours. I suggested to her mum that as long as the girl was up to it, they could watch it together and do the project and the test. It meant she wouldn’t fall behind.”

The school is considering investing in a similar resource for grammar and punctuation. At the end of the summer term the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher attended a special 50th anniversary assembly. He unveiled a plaque naming a new building after Henry Blencowe, a former chair of governors who is still involved in the life of the school. Bishop Loveday CE School recently became an academy by joining the Warriner Multi Academy Trust.


Schools team expands its services

The newly expanded Diocesan Education Team.

The newly expanded Diocesan Education Team.

MEET our newly expanded Diocesan Schools Team. The team, headed up by Education Director Anne Davey, is offering an enhanced range of services to our 284 Church of England Schools.

Training courses in how to handle Ofsted inspections, bespoke school improvement packages, leadership training for head teachers and staff and support with capital building projects are among the range of services offered by the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education and Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust. Nearly all of our schools choose to buy in additional support from us.

“While we offer all of these services, all of our work is underpinned by our commitment to developing Christian distinctiveness in our schools, while ensuring they are inclusive and welcoming to those of all faiths and none,” says Anne.

Among the capital projects have been a range of new kitchens, installed to meet changes in requirements that mean that from the start of this term, all infant school pupils are entitled to a free school meal. Recently the Diocese has provided support with 56 school kitchen projects.

John Henry Newman Academy aims for excellence.

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Children enjoy silent reading outdoors at John Henry Newman Academy. Photo: Jo Duckles.

Children enjoy silent reading outdoors at John Henry Newman Academy. Photo: Jo Duckles.

OFSTED inspectors have noted major improvements at Oxford’s John Henry Newman Academy.

Their report, published just weeks after official Church schools inspectors praised the diocesan academy, has given head teacher Jackie Ranger and her team encouragement that they are on the right track. Despite the school being classified as ‘requiring improvement’ the inspectors noted the following strengths:

• Children make good progress in the Early Years Foundation Stage

• There are good relationships between adults and pupils throughout the school

• Pupils spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is promoted well

• Improvements to pupils’ behaviour are helping them to make the most of learning opportunities

• The academy trust and governors play a key role in holding leaders to account

John Henry Newman was the first primary school to become a member of the Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust. The trust is working hard with leaders at the school to pave the way for major improvements.

Andrew Bevan, Chair of Governors, said: “We believe that our pupils deserve the best possible opportunities to maximise their potential. I am pleased that the inspectors have acknowledged the improvements in behaviour which show that pupils are also committed to making the most of the opportunity JHN offers. There is a good partnership between pupils, parents and carers, the staff, governors and Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust, which the report recognises. This provides a sound basis for continuing improvement with the inspirational leadership of the Principal, Jackie Ranger.”

Mrs Ranger said: “I am extremely proud to be the Principal of John Henry Newman Academy. We (pupils, parents, staff, local community partners, Governors, Diocese) are a formidable team who recognise that the pursuit of excellence not only takes time but hard work, love and courage from our whole school community. Our dedication, determination and commitment will ensure that we accomplish our vision of excellence.”

The report was published following an extremely positive inspection from the Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools, the Church version of OFSTED.

The report praised Mrs Ranger for her “Christian vision and commitment, despite challenging circumstances, resulting in strong, inspirational leadership.”

After school clubs, including Samba drumming and cheer leading, as well as a Good to BE Green initiatives were praised. The Revd Margreet Armitstead, the Vicar of St Mary and St Nicholas Church in Littlemore, was praised for leading regular worship in the school.

Fiona Craig, Deputy Education Director (School Improvement) said: “It has been an absolute privilege for the trust to work with a great team of committed staff and governers who have transformed the culture of the school into a place where all stakeholders are valued, expectations are high and pupils are cared for and nurtured to help them be the very best they can be. We now have the foundations to move the school forward in terms of academic achievements.”

Anne Davey, Director of Education for the Diocese of Oxford, said: “The governors and ODST are very proud of the progress that pupils in JHN are making and the people they are becoming.

“We are delighted that everyone’s hard work has been recognised and we will continue to work closely with the school to help it develop further. We believe in the power of the Littlemore community to give its children the best chance to succeed in life and to therefore be able to make a difference to the lives of others. We are thrilled that this report acknowledges the school’s role in this.”

Mrs Ranger said the next steps were to raise standards in reading, writing and maths.

The school, Oxford Brookes and the Diocese are co-writing a leadership course for all teachers which focusses on improving teaching and learning and rising standards across the school. She said a parent partnership worker will be helping ensure parents are also equipped to support their children in the learning they do at home.