As Network Coordinator my primary roles are to support the schools and the College in England and Wales in the development and promotion of their distinctive Sacred Heart ethos, and to represent the Society in England and Wales at European and international meetings related to the schools and the schools’ networks.
My own background is in schools. Originally a History graduate, I completed my PGCE at Digby Stuart College, now part of the University of Roehampton and went on to work at Sacred Heart High School in Hammersmith from 1982 before gaining a senior post at Sacred Heart High School in Newcastle in 1990. My roles in these Sacred Heart schools and later as deputy head in a school with another religious congregation brought me to a deep appreciation of the quality of relationships in education and in life. For us, as Catholic schools founded by the Society, the Heart of Jesus must be at the centre of those relationships.
Our first focus as a newly re-formed network in 2009/10 was to adopt the Goals of Sacred Heart Education and develop our ways of working together. We have regular meetings of Goals Coordinators and an annual conference for the School and College Leaders. All kinds of other activities have developed including Heartfest and most recently a Student Leadership Day.
Internationality is one of the many gifts we have received from the Society. As coordinator I strive to keep the connections alive for schools today whether that is through our European Network with activities such as the Philippine Project and sessions for teachers in Joigny or further afield by encouraging attendance at international conferences. Links have been made between our schools and Sacred Heart schools on different continents in Taiwan, Uganda, Kenya, Mexico and most recently India. Recently we were also delighted to welcome Sr Cecile Meijer RSCJ to our Network who gave us talks on her work when she was the NGO representative at the UN for the Society.
It is a real privilege and joy to help transmit the charism of the Society and the vision of Madeleine Sophie Barat, often learning as I do so much from my colleagues, who, day to day, live with the reality of young people's lives today.