KCSP hold first conference for Catholic education in Kent


KCSP hold first conference for Catholic education in Kent

KCSP’s first conference, attended by over 50 Head Teachers, Chairs of Governors, Directors and Partnership staff, opened with a prayer from Fr. Paul Mason, Episcopal Vicar for Kent and Chair of the KCSP Board.

Delegates were welcomed by Chief Executive, Clive Webster, who set the scene by highlighting KCSP’s mission for children attending Catholic schools, and our collective opportunity to maintain and build upon Catholic educational success.  Central to this and the ‘anchors for the day’ was our need to hold fast to the Gospel values that bind us, values that will more than prove their worth amid inevitable challenges ahead, and the importance of seeing the whole child as central to our collaboration and support of one another.

Mark Harris took delegates through the critical area of the financial underpinning of KCSP, the already formidable nature of the size of the Trust (already the third largest in the South East region) and also the opportunities available to us, particularly through economies of scale, which will be crucial to navigating our way through an increasingly ‘tight’ national financial climate in education.

The KCSP conference was very pleased to welcome Dominic Herrington, Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) for the South East and South London (SESL).  As well as providing helpful background to the RSC role and Head Teacher Board (HTB), Dominic provided a valuable reminder of both the national and international backdrop against which multi-academy trusts (MATs) like KCSP had the opportunity to help take the quality of education in the UK further forward.  Dominic’s sensitivity to some of the local characteristics of Kent (e.g., the additional challenge presented in some coastal towns and communities) was well received and the fact he is already getting to know Kent and wants to get to know it much more.

The afternoon was dominated by a focus on continuous school improvement and an opportunity to provide initial input into what will become a school improvement strategy for KCSP.  Nick Cross, KCSP’s School Improvement Director, led delegates to the concept of ‘pre-eminence’ and the opportunity we had as leaders of Catholic education to both recognise where we showed signs of this and how we can begin to achieve it more universally.  High levels of engagement through table-top activity produced ‘quick-fire’ examples of easily replicable practice and opportunities to suggest how much more could be done relatively easily across schools and the Trust as a whole.  Nick invited two Head Teachers (Annemarie Whittle of St. Margaret Clitherow Primary and Stephen Adamson of St. Gregory’s Secondary) to offer insights to their school improvement journeys, insights which were universally welcomed by all those in attendance.

After important ‘thank yous’ to three Board Directors who have reached the end of their prescribed terms (Nora Naughton, Chair of Governors at St. John’s Secondary, Mike Walters, Head Teacher of St. Anselm’s Secondary and John Letts, Head Teacher of St. Ethelbert’s Primary), and to our excellent conference ‘organiser-in-chief’, Wendy Monaghan, Fr. Philip Gilbert, Foundation Director and Vice Chair of the KCSP Board, closed this seminal event with a prayer.

It felt like we were not only getting somewhere for Catholic education, but knew where we were going – and going there together!