100 days

Dear Staff and Governance across The Romero Catholic Academy,

100 days

Wednesday 12th December, marked my 100th day as Catholic Senior Executive Leader of The Romero Catholic Academy. This naturally created a personal milestone, leading to a moment of reflection. If these few months have taught me anything, it’s that I am honoured to serve this faith community, which is largely thanks to all of you, the pupils, students, staff and governance across Romero.

Being active and visible in our schools alongside outreach and researching best practice will remain a hallmark of my leadership. Since my first day, an important goal has been to connect with each of our eight schools. Over my first 100 days I have had numerous opportunities to meet and interact with many and I have already gained an appreciation of how committed and passionate many of you are in your role across the schools. It was good to meet so many staff at our recent training event #RomeroExcels on November 2nd and gather your views first hand.

This term I was delighted to welcome Michelle Ashley and Steve McCarthy as the two Interim Principals at Good Shepherd and Corpus Christi respectively. Both Michelle and Steve will continue to lead their schools into the Spring term and we are very pleased with their achievements so far.

We have welcomed significant scrutiny from Birmingham Diocesan Education Service during the last two months. Brendan Fawcett, Colin Beesley (Cardinal Wiseman) and myself attended a meeting with key BDES leaders to evaluate Catholic life, Leadership and outcomes across Romero. In addition, both SS Peter and Paul and St John Fisher Primary schools have welcomed Maureen O’Leary for a monitoring visit in November. Both schools have received excellent feedback demonstrating that they are performing extremely well against the new Section 48 framework.

Both Cardinal Wiseman and Sacred Heart have undergone a full two-day Section 48 inspection by the Diocesan Inspectors. The two inspections have gone extremely well and whilst reports have not been received yet, we are very pleased with emerging feedback. The commentary details the very strong provision in our schools and we congratulate both schools.

We congratulate many of our Year 6 who have taken the important step in their journey of faith this term. I was privileged to witness children being Confirmed at St John Fisher and St Gregory on November 17th, Sacred Heart on 30th November and more recently, Good Shepherd on December 6th. All the children were beautifully prepared and the Masses was reverent and memorable for families and friends attending. Thank you to Bishop Kenney for celebrating each of the Masses with Father Tony, Father Bob and Father Jimmy.

Key to my role is getting into classrooms and seeing the quality of provision for our 3,500 pupils. This term I have led an Early Years review, taken part in Teaching and Learning review at Corpus Christi, Good Shepherd, Cardinal Wiseman and supported a Sixth form review. Talking to our articulate, enthusiastic pupils and students, working with teaching staff in action and seeing outcomes in books, learning journals and Chrome books has been a delight. There is such strong practice across our schools and key to our success is the sharing of this. We must learn from one another – regardless of school or the phase/ subject we teach. We need to understand and build on one another’s strengths supporting where we know we have areas for development. To quote a leader from the recent Sixth form review “a rising tide lifts all boats”!

This term, all the Principals have been working hard leading strands across the MAC. Andrea Sherratt (St Patrick) is working with Tony Quinn, (Cardinal Wiseman) to lead an exciting strategy to ensure our most disadvantaged students are given every opportunity to thrive and reach their potential. Paul Madia (Sacred Heart) is leading a big piece of work on Assessment as we all get to grips with PiXL our MAC assessment system from Year 1 to Year 13. Tom Leverage (Cardinal Wiseman) is leading a review of finances looking across our schools to see if we can analyse and plan our budgets with greater efficiency.  Dee Williams (St John Fisher) is going to be leading a review of our curriculums as we look to innovate and collaborate in the design of our offer across our schools. This will be a significant project into 2019 and it will involve all schools. Geraldine Marshall (St Gregory) has now taken over the role of Network lead at Primary level coordinating school improvement. Kevin Shakespeare (SS Peter and Paul) has been creatively planning a range of Sports and Enrichment opportunities for our pupils and students. There are plans for a Romero Year 4 (Pupil Premium) Survival Camp on 1st February and a Colour Run for all staff and families on 6th July to raise funds for MIND. Both events will be held at Cardinal Wiseman. We are committed to widening opportunities for our young people, families and staff across the MAC.

A key event has been the relocation of the Shared Services Team to Cardinal Wiseman in October. This is a significant move for the company as we firmly establish our base in the Secondary school and relocate our Company address. Now the team are settled, I look forward to moving into my new office in early January in St Thomas Aquinas block which will be my permanent base.

Thank you to all the staff at Cardinal Wiseman for making us feel so welcome in our new accommodation.

May I wish all of you, an abundance of peace and joy this Christmas season and every happiness and success for 2019.

Helen Quinn


Prayer for Christmas

The joy of discovery that moment when hope and expectation
were gloriously met by the illumination of one bright star.

We cannot imagine what words were spoken by visitors
or if first impressions left them somewhat confused.

Messiah, Saviour, a King born in the barest of palaces.

Yet they saw and fell down on their knees in adoration.

Lord, they saw you and knew whom they had met.

As we meet around crib, candle or advent wreath
draw us into that stable in our imagination.

In the quiet moments of prayer this Christmas,

that brief oasis from the bustle of the world

Bring alive to us the smell of the hay
the sound of the animals, the cry of a baby.

Draw us close to our Saviour Messiah and King as we bring
not Gold, Myrrh or Frankincense

but the gift of our lives 
the only offering we can bring.