Friday, 18 December 2015 00:00

Newman University celebrates Ofsted report

Newman University’s Teacher Education programmes have received high recognition in all categories in its latest Ofsted report.

Ofsted inspectors have graded teaching at Newman’s School of Education “good”, reaffirming the University’s status as one of the UK’s leading institutions for excellence in teacher training.

Dean of Education, Professor Stephen Rayner, said: “We are delighted with the acknowledgement throughout the report of the inspiration and impact our work has on our trainee-teachers, newly-qualified teachers (NQTs) and the children and young people whom they teach.

“Newman trained teachers acquire a diverse range of skills and experience during their time with us, which helps prepare students to meet the demands of teaching in today’s challenging educational environment. It is evident from this extremely positive report that our students’ passion and desire to continually improve their teaching skills are in demand by employers who recognise the high calibre of our student-teachers.

“We would like to congratulate our Initial Teacher Education (ITE) team and to thank our partner schools for their support during the inspection process.”

Katie North, a Primary ITE student at Newman, commented about the standard of teaching from a first-hand perspective: “Staff at Newman truly do take the time to get to know you on an individual basis. This has had a positive impact on my confidence levels, and hence improved my personal quality of teaching in the classroom.”

The School of Education at Newman University has trained teachers for over forty years and has an established reputation in teacher training, excellent education research, and teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

The report highlighted several key areas of strength relating to the primary and secondary programme inspection including:

  • High-calibre trainees and NQTs who demonstrate exceptional professional attitudes. They share a passion for teaching and a desire to continually improve their teaching skills. They are held in high regard by local head teachers.
  • Exceedingly strong centre-based training, which blends theory and practice flawlessly, is complemented well by specialist and enhancement learning opportunities. This accounts for trainees' and NQTs' strong subject knowledge and their confidence and competence in teaching across the primary and early years curriculum.
  • The partnership enjoys a good local reputation for nurturing well-prepared teachers who are an asset to schools. Head teachers are overwhelmingly positive about the calibre of NQTs, who consistently demonstrate exceptional professional attitudes, and share a willingness to seek advice and learn from others. Trainees emerge from the different training programmes as well-rounded, resilient and enthusiastic professionals who make a difference to the schools in which they work and the pupils they teach.
  • A particular strength of the training programme is the enhancement and specialist weeks. These events ensure trainees become steeped in their specialist subject but also open their eyes to a broader range of teaching techniques. The opportunity to visit schools in Sweden to explore the impact of Forest Schools is just one example, among many, of the excellent learning opportunities available to trainees.
  • The outcomes for trainees are good. Trainees' attainment is high, especially through the School Direct route, where around three quarters of trainees were judged outstanding at the end of their training in 2015.
  • Careful vetting of the quality of the placement allows trainees to gain experience in schools in more challenging circumstances.

ENDS

Notes to editor:

Newman University is a Catholic higher education institution based in Bartley Green, Birmingham and historically enjoys one of the highest graduate employment rates of any higher education institution in the country.

Founded in 1968, Newman was awarded University College status in 2007, receiving full university status in February 2013. With a strong reputation for teacher training, it also offers a range of undergraduate, postgraduate and foundation degree courses covering a range of subjects, primarily in the fields of humanities and social sciences.

It was recognised in the Top 10 UK universities for quality of teaching in the Sunday Times Good University Guide 2013 and is one of a select group of 15 higher education institutions to gain three ‘high’ ratings in the Which? University Guide.

Newman also enjoys a burgeoning reputation for research, with some outputs being recognised as ‘internationally excellent’ in the latest Research Assessment Exercise (REF2014).

Newman is named after Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801 – 1890), one of the intellectual greats of the nineteenth century. While proud of its Catholic heritage, the college welcomes staff and students of all religions and backgrounds.

Tuesday, 01 December 2015 00:00

2015 Census Infographic

CES Director Paul Barber sets the record straight about the recent news on the new RE GCSE

There have been many headlines this week about the teaching of RE in Catholic schools. Many of them have distorted the reality of both the new RE GCSE and what actually goes on in Catholic schools.

Let’s be clear, Catholic schools are not ‘banning’ the teaching of Islam nor are we ‘shunning’ them from our GCSE syllabus. Pupils in Catholic schools will continue learn about Islam and the world’s other main religions and belief systems.

Just because pupils will not be examined on faiths other than Christianity and Judaism, it doesn’t mean to say that the other world religions will not be taught.

The Catholic Bishop’s Conference Religious Education Curriculum Directory, the authoritative document which outlines the teaching of RE in Catholic schools, is clear, a broad understanding of the world’s major religions is crucial to a child’s understanding of their own faith.

In compliance with the local Bishop’s wishes, the vast majority of Catholic schools are currently teaching 100% Catholic Christianity for GCSE RE.

The Bishops have long recognised the need for greater academic rigor in the RE GCSE curriculum which is why they are welcoming the new GCSE and the opportunity to study a second religion. Thus, Judaism was chosen for two primary reasons.

Firstly, we are taking this opportunity to advance the cause of Christian/Jewish relationships, a historic step in building bridges with a community Pope John Paul II referred to as ‘our elder brothers in faith’.

Many of our critics this week have claimed the Bishops’ decision as going directly against Pope Francis’ call for greater tolerance between the faiths. The irony is, by embracing a second religion at GCSE the Bishops are doing precisely what the Pope is calling for.

In fact, we are working with leading figures in the Jewish community to help train our teachers so they can teach Judaism with the same level of expertise that they teach Catholic Christianity. This is an essential part of delivering outstanding RE.

This is exactly the kind of co-operation and mutual understanding that Pope Francis is talking about. Similarly, many Catholic schools have good working relationships with Mosques and Imams who assist in the teaching of Islam at primary and secondary level.

Secondly, we are fully supportive of the new more academically rigorous nature of the RE GCSE, and by teaching Judaism as the second religion, pupils will be able to get a more thorough understanding of Christianity.

Much of the negativity fired at us this week has been down to a misunderstanding about the role of RE in Catholic schools. For us, religious education is at the heart of everything we do. It encompasses at least ten per cent of the schools’ timetables and goes far beyond the ‘compare and contrast’ style of RE you find in other schools.

It is because of this commitment RE, and the importance we place on it, that we’re championing these reforms. To gain a thorough understanding of the more than 2000 years of Catholic theology and culture, the teaching of Judaism is essential. After all, Jesus himself was Jewish.   

Changes to any curriculum, especially RE, can be controversial, however our RE advisors at both a national and diocesan level are providing support to assist teachers with this change.

Whilst it is true that some of our schools have a large proportion of pupils from other faiths (across England, 30% of our pupils are either not Catholic or non-religious) the primary role of a Catholic school is to provide a Catholic Christian education.

Catholic schools are the most ethnically diverse in the country and it is this inclusivity along with the Catholic ethos which makes then so successful in promoting community cohesion.

ENDS

The President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, has reiterated his support for the Living Wage.

A growing number of Catholic schools already pay the living wage to thousands of teaching assistants, catering and school support staff. The move comes following a joint campaign with UNISON – the public sector union representing low-paid staff in schools.

At a local level many Catholic parishes, schools and charities were involved in the original design and development of the London Living Wage through the community organising group London Citizens.

For Cardinal Nichols and the Bishops of England and Wales, the payment of the Living Wage recognises that fair wages are essential to the common good of our society.

He said: “For more than 100 years the Catholic Church has championed the cause of a just wage so that employees can meet the needs of their families.

“It’s encouraging to see that this has now become a national movement with real momentum behind it. In accordance with Catholic Social Teaching, and as part of its mission to support the poor and vulnerable, the Bishops fully endorse the principle of the Living Wage. As a Church we have given a commitment to work towards implementing the Living Wage for all who work with us. This week I reiterate that commitment.

“A just wage is the basis for creating a fair economic system. We now look to the wider business community, public sector and the Government to play their part in securing a just wage for the lowest paid in our society.”

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “This is a huge development for the thousands of school staff who have been struggling to make ends meet and a major step towards achieving fair pay in the country.

“The Catholic Church, alongside UNISON and community groups, is the force behind this movement. The bishops are showing real leadership by encouraging businesses and other organisations to follow suit.”

Linda Amos, Business Manager at St Ursula’s Convent School, Greenwich, commented on why they pay the Living Wage.

She said: “Paying the Living Wage shows that we value our staff, and that includes everyone, from the teachers to the support staff to the cleaners.

“The Living Wage has also given job security to many of our support staff, some of whom had to work two jobs prior to being employed by us.

“Paying the Living Wage means we keep people and our staff turn-over is low. Not only is this good for school moral, but also it teaches our young people how ethical employers should behave.

“Also because we have invested in our staff, they have in turn invested in our school with support staff participating in extra-curricular events such as sports day.”

ENDS

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