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COMMUNITY AND LIVING WELL TOGETHER

Dear colleagues
 
Recent months have taught us a great deal about what a school really is.
 
The challenges of the COVID season with all its twists and turns, pressures and strains have revealed a workforce that is continually committed to going above and beyond every expectation of what a school usually does – choosing to invest in, love, bless, hold together and transform the community that it serves. That is what school leaders have been doing day in day out throughout the whole crisis – sometimes seen, sometimes unseen.
 
Always focused on providing the best, life-enhancing, rich, generous, transformational experience for every child (and by implication every family) in their care.
 
This sense of Community and Living Well Together is at the heart of our vision for education, and as we prepare to welcome all our pupils back next week, we want to resource and encourage you as leaders to focus deeply on that rebuilding and reconnecting of community – the kind of community that enables everyone to flourish together. There are of course myriad practical arrangements to ensure all is well planned and implemented, but at the heart of this is not simply efficiency, but rather the depth of relationship that will release this kind of flourishing. There will be pain, regret, grief, isolation and anxiety. There will also be learning to be re-gained, knowledge to be re-encountered, but as we follow our vision for educating for community and living well together, let us take time as leaders to build the solid foundations of the school community, from which everything else will flow.
 
We have produced a series of resources for primary and secondary schools to help with this – through our ‘Faith at Home’ Series 2 which is entitled ‘Flourishing Together’, with collective worship/tutor programme films for all ages focusing on:

  • Why do we belong together? (Community and Interdependence)
  • How do we know we are loved? (Self-Esteem and Security)
  • How do we get back on track? (Character and Renewal)
  • How do we make sense of our feelings? (Mental Health and Wellbeing)
  • How do we face our fears? (Anxiety and Failure)
  • How can we have hope for tomorrow? (Faith and Confidence)

 
They’re all available at
I am a School Leader | The Church of England and we’d commend them to you to support this work, along with all the other resources in this week’s Called, Connected, Committed below.
 
We continue to be astounded at the love, care, passion and purpose with which leaders are leading and we thank you and all your teams deeply for all you are doing at this time to bring the whole school back and to educate for community and living well together.

Andy Wolfe - Deputy Chief Education Officer (Leadership Development)

Educating for Community and Living Well Together
We are only persons with each other: our humanity is ‘co-humanity’, inextricably involved with others, utterly relational, both in our humanity and our shared life on a finite planet. If those others are of ultimate worth then we are each called to responsibility towards them and to contribute responsibly to our communities. The good life is ‘with and for others in just institutions’ (Paul Ricoeur). So education needs to have a core focus on relationships and commitments, participation in communities and institutions, and the qualities of character that enable people to flourish together.

This week's mailing focuses on the 'Community and Living Well Together' part of the Church of England's Vision for Education.

Find the text here.


 
Education Office/ Foundation Update:
Have you discovered our Growing Faith Adventure Podcast yet?
The Church of England Education office has recently released a brand-new podcast exploring how faith can grow in the connections between church, school and home.
Suitable for school leaders, parents or those who are part of a church community, it features specialist experts and young people on the adventure of bringing about change, working together to grow in faith with and among children and young people across the generations.
The first episode on ‘Connected Communities’ is available to listen to now:

Listen on Spotify
Listen on Apple Podcasts
Our next Open Network will provide an opportunity to explore Bishop Rose's podcast on Flourishing Together (the topic of our last mailout), through meeting with other school and diocesan leaders from across the country - Thursday March 4th at 4pm. Register here: Networks - Foundation For Educational Leadership (cefel.org.uk)
Resources for further reflection
'Our humanity is ‘co-humanity’, inextricably involved with others.'
Over the last year, we have all learnt immeasurably more than we could have imagined about connecting virtually. Many a challenge has been overcome, as well as many an opportunity opening up. We are more globally connected than before, whilst being so limited in our everyday physical interactions. 
The Future of Learning Report (February 2021) states:
'Education is a shared experience. We want to connect more people so they can learn together. The future of learning is togetherness – global learners in a global society.'
Focusing on women, inclusivity and how young people utilise social media, this report may enhance our thinking about the future of learning as schools fully reopen.
'If others are of ultimate worth then we are each called to responsibility towards them and to contribute responsibly to our communities.'
In this TED talk, Kent Hoffman shares the impact it had upon his work with vulnerable children and adults when he truly grasped that each and every person is of infinite worth. He shares 'what that means for us to walk in relationship with others with a new sense of interconnectedness'.
'So education needs to have a core focus on... the qualities of character that enable people to flourish together.'
We have all seen how crucial character has been in navigating the challenges of lockdown and managing both online and physical schooling. 

The Archbishop of York's Youth Trust are running their Introduction to Character Education sessions again with input from Dr Tom Harrison at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues. 
Additionally, you can find out how utilising the Young Leaders' Award with pupils can support their well being and resilience, as well as empower them to serve their own communities by joining one of these webinars:
 www.abyyt.com/conferences
'Each school is to be a hospitable community that seeks to embody an ethos of living well together. Here the flourishing of the pupils goes along with the flourishing of the teachers and other staff.'
How do we ensure our staff are ready and able to best support our pupils? John Tomsett and Johnny Utterly in their book 'Putting Staff First' use the metaphor of the oxygen mask, warning 'the longer our schools are populated with hypoxic adults, we imperil all our futures'. This much I know about…Putting Staff First | johntomsett
In the Foundation, we believe that the flourishing of students is utterly dependent on the flourishing of our adults, and happens within flourishing schools. As all staff and pupils return to school, how can we enable the well being of our whole community?
'The good life is ‘with and for others in just institutions’ (Paul Ricoeur).'
The Vision document includes a quote from Paul Ricoeur, but who was he? Paul Ricoeur (born 1913, in France) was a leading exponent of hermeneutical philosophy. He developed a theory of metaphor and discourse as well as articulating a comprehensive vision of the relation of time, history, and narrative. Ricoeur's work influenced scholarship in virtually all of the human sciences. 
Here are some of his most well-known quotes:
'Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount gives a vision of life as part of the family of a God who is fully inclusive in loving.'
This song by The City Harmonic, based on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, reminds us that we can all be beacons of hope, shining out to our communities: 'A City on a Hill'.
Shine
Light of the world
we can't hide it
This beautiful light it
Shines
For all of the world
To believe we can be
A city on a hill
'The conviction that we are created and sustained by God for living together in families and communities is at the root of our dedication to educating for life together.'
This stunning a cappella version of Ubi Caritas by Kings Return will send shivers up your spine! The words translate as:
Where charity and love are, there God is.
The love of Christ has gathered us into one.
Let us exult, and in Him be joyful.
Let us fear and let us love the living God.
And from a sincere heart let us love each other (and Him).

As you regather as a school community, may charity and love dwell amongst you.

A Prayer for School Leaders as Schools Fully Reopen

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You know what it takes to live well together,
To form and reform community,
Welcoming, healing, rebuilding and renewing,
Bound together in perfect love.
So we look to you now.

For our students returning to school 
After a long time at home -
May they know they are loved, valued and included,
Welcome just as they are, however they feel.

For the students continuing on in our school
After their different experience of learning this term -
May they feel safe and important as their classes fill up,
Adjusting to change and busyness in their space once again.

For staff moving back into their learning environments
After teaching and supporting all over the place -
May they believe in their power to transform and inspire,
Knowing their expertise makes a difference to all.

And for ourselves, managing yet more full-scale change,
After a year of challenge upon challenge upon challenge,
May we know we're not alone, but surrounded by love,
Connected to so many who walk this path, too.

Draw us together with a hope that is real,
Rebuild our school upon your cornerstone,
Mend any disconnections with your infinite love,
And renew our community to shine once again.

For our children,
For our staff,
For our families,
For our governors,
For our communities
And also for ourselves -
We look to you now,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Amen

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