Posted on: September 4th 2020

Autumn Term Update

Welcome to the first of our termly updates designed to share the different ways in which the SDBE is working to fulfil its strategic objectives.

The response of our school communities, staff and pupils through the COVID-19 pandemic in recent times has been inspirational and is a testament to the strength of our schools’ Church of England ethos and their educational mission. We have been overwhelmed with examples from across the Diocese of local efforts to show compassion toward others, from which we can highlight just three: St Bede’s School in Redhill manufactured 500 items of PPE using their Design & Technology facilities, which were donated to hospitals and Brixton prison; the caretaker of St Paul’s C of E Primary School in Walworth raised £9000 to create food parcels for local families; and staff St Matthew’s C of E Primary School in Redhill volunteered at a local foodbank.

To support schools during these unprecedented times the SDBE has retained its full complement of staff and successfully transitioned to remote working. With much of our summer training programme being delivered via electronic sessions we are very pleased to have been able to comprehensively deliver on all aspects of our Partnership Agreement with schools.

The business of the Board and its committees has continued by adapting to virtual meetings. We were very pleased to see over 70 headteachers tune in for our summer virtual briefing. The high level of engagement with our virtual training has caused us to reflect on how we can use this to help reach all parts of the Diocese, for example our virtual primary leadership forum was attended by 38 school leaders.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic the SDBE has produced a continual flow of acts of collective worship as an additional resource for schools during these challenging times. Our annual Leavers’ Services were adapted for online streaming, with great care taken to produce a memorable event viewed by well over a thousand Y6 children. The SBDE has also produced guidance on how schools can conceptualise and set about developing their recovery curriculum for the coming year.

The new VA-SCA steering group met for the first time in May, with the support of the Finance and Development Committee’s Capital Strategy sub-group. Whilst the DfE funding for capital projects was higher than expected there were many difficult decisions to be made as the programme was five times oversubscribed. Nevertheless, the group were pleased to be able to agree a short-list of important bids that will ensure this investment has the best possible impact upon our schools.

Progress is being made on our new Kingston Voluntary Aided secondary school, with meetings taken place with the DfE over the summer and a feasibility study now being conducted. We hope to go out to public consultation later this year.