On Thursday 18 May, a gathering of heads, governors and senior staff were warmly welcomed to St. George’s College in Weybridge by Mrs Rachel Jones, the Headmistress. Morning prayer was led by Fr. Martin Ashcroft, a member of the Josephite community at St.George’s and a founding member of CISC.
In the first session, I provided an overview of the 1977 document from the Congregation for Catholic Education, The Catholic School, and then shared some of my recent work on Gospel values. Dr. Clare Watkins, lecturer in ministerial theology at Roehampton University provided a fascinating summary of the Visions for Leadership project which was run from Heythrop and offered stimulating insights into the concept of vocation, which can be double-edged and lead some to assume that heads will give beyond their endurance ‘because it’s a vocation’ which is not always helpful. Dr Sean Whittle, Visiting Research Fellow at Heythrop College and St. Mary’s University, provided a very helpful overview of the history of research in Catholic education in the last thirty or so years, paying tribute in particular to Professors Gerald Grace and John Sullivan for their pioneering work. Sean reminded us of the recent developments in the Catholic educational research community, including the new Network for Research in Catholic Education (see below for details of the next conference). Our speakers were then joined for a panel discussion in the afternoon by Antonia Beary, Chair of CISC and Headmistress of Mayfield School, and Sharon Wallin, Director of Education at St. Elizabeth’s Centre in Much Hadham. The conversation on the role of Catholic independent schools was candid and wide-ranging and included an update from Professor Grace on the work of the International Studies in Catholic Education, which since 2009 has brought together the best thinking in Catholic education from all over the world.
I am also delighted to announce that next year’s day conference for CISC heads and governors will be held at Woldingham School on Thursday 10 May 2018. This very special event will mark the 175th anniversary of the founding of the school by The Society of the Sacred Heart. More details of a very special day to follow but in the meantime please save the date.