School News (143)

Foundation governor imageAre you looking for a way to live out your faith and serve your local community at the same time?

Since the 19th century the Catholic Church has become the country’s largest provider of secondary schools and second-largest of primary schools, along with four universities – but now they need your help.

Educational institutions are generally governed by a body made up of different types of representatives, such as parent governors and teacher governors.

Catholic schools and universities also include foundation governors, who volunteer to ensure the Catholic vision and character of the school is upheld. Appointed on behalf of the Bishop, foundation governors should always form a majority.

Since the pandemic Catholic educational institutions have experienced vacancies for foundation governors, and more are needed to sustain their Catholic ethos and leadership.

Paul Barber, Catholic Education Service Director, said: “As throughout history, Catholics must be prepared to support, promote and defend Catholic education.

“Practising Catholics could make excellent foundation governors, or know someone who might be interested, so please find out about getting involved by contacting your diocese.”

Foundation governors come from all walks of life, bringing a mix of skills, knowledge and experience. Catholic school pupils in England and in Wales are from significantly more diverse ethnic minority backgrounds than the state sector, and governing bodies should reflect this.

The main role of a governing body is at a strategic level, holding leadership to account; overseeing financial performance and setting the budget; managing admissions criteria; and being involved in recruiting to the most senior roles.

Being a foundation governor involves attending on average three full governing body meetings per year as well as serving on a committee focusing on issues such as staff pay, or admissions. Free training is provided by the diocese.

The 2,169 schools, colleges and academies in England and Wales continue to be true to their mission, by educating more pupils from the most deprived backgrounds, and also outperform national GCSE English, Maths and Religious Education averages.

Foundation governors are also needed for Catholic higher education, at Leeds Trinity, Liverpool Hope, Birmingham Newman and St Mary’s universities.

To find out more about becoming a school foundation governor please contact your diocese. If you are interested in becoming a governor at a Catholic university please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Cardinal Nichols and pupilsFree new RE resources have been published to help teach sixth form students about the call to holiness.

The optional Core RE Vocation module has been produced by the National Office for Vocation (NOV) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. 

The resources include:

a staff handbook of seven structured lessons

prayers

student workbooks

Powerpoint presentations

videos

Lessons are based around the themes of vocation and discernment; the call to serve; marriage; the holy orders of Deacon, Priesthood and Bishop; consecrated religious life; a guest speaker; and assessment.

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP, NOV Chair, said: “The Call to Holiness’ is heard at different moments in a person’s life and its response takes different forms. For some it may be a lifelong commitment to religious life or priesthood but for others it may be in the married or single life, in teaching, the caring professions or in the world of law and business, or a combination of these.

"But the ‘Call to Holiness’ is universal and applies to everyone no matter what path in life they choose.”

Read and download the Core RE Vocations Module

Bishop Marcus image landscape

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

At this stage in the calendar, when we draw close to the summit of the Liturgical Year - the Sacred Paschal Triduum, we celebrate with reverence the passion and death of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and we look forward with joy to celebrating at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night and on Easter Sunday morning his resurrection from the dead.

As we come to the end of this term, it is also a time for many students in our schools which coincides with an intense period of study in preparation for examinations in the summer. For young people, it is a time of hope but it can be a time of anxiety also. What is most important though, is that their time in school is a time when they can flourish: in mind, body and spirit. Christ came that we might have life and have it to the full. The flourishing of young lives through Catholic education is indebted to the years of dedication and commitment given by school leaders, teachers, learning assistants, chaplains and by all the staff and governors of our schools.

On the threshold of Holy Week, we catch sight of the new life in Christ which his death and resurrection holds out to us and to the world. It is a vision which we glimpse in the prayers and liturgy taking place in schools and churches up and down the land.

I give thanks to Almighty God for the noble vocation of all of you who work and serve in our schools. I pray that you, your families and your loved ones will receive many blessings from the Lord during this great Solemn Feast of Easter, and that it will be a time of joy and thanksgiving for you all.

With the assurance of my prayers, I remain,

Your servant in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Rt Rev Marcus Stock

Chair of the Catholic Education Service

Bishop of Leeds

RE image lower res

Catholic schools’ GCSE Religious Education (RE) exam results are the best in the country, according to the latest data.

Analysis by the Catholic Education Service (CES) of GCSE RE attainment for 2022 has shown that results from Catholic schools have overtaken the national average for the exams.

Last year 75.2% of Catholic school RE GCSE candidates scored a C+ or grade 4, compared to 68.3% nationally.

The results at A Level were more comparable, however, with 66.9% achieving A* or B in Catholic schools, compared to 67.7% in all schools.

Just over a quarter (25.6%) of all pupils who sat GCSE RE exams last year were from Catholic schools, while the proportion was 9.8% at A Level.

Across England and Wales there are 2,175 Catholic schools, colleges and academies, which educate more than 849,000 pupils.

This represents 9% of the state sector in England and 6% in Wales.

Philip Robinson, CES RE Adviser, said: “This is good news, and testament to the hard work of RE teachers and students in Catholic education.

In a society both increasingly secular and religiously pluralistic, RE has an essential role in enabling respectful dialogue on contentious issues like faith and science; refugees and asylum seekers; war and peace.”

The CES has recently launched a new RE Directory, for introduction from 2025 – find out more.

St Thomas More School in Peterborough web resolutionPupils in Catholic schools and academies are significantly more diverse than the England average, according to the latest data.

Overall, 44% of pupils at Catholic state-funded primaries and secondaries are from an ethnic minority background, compared to 36% nationally.  

A total of 11.4% of the 820,994 pupils in England’s 2,090 Catholic schools and academies are either Black or Black British, compared to 5.8% nationally. The percentage of black teachers is also slightly higher, at 2.6%, above a national average of 2.4%.

There are more than three times the proportion of White Irish pupils (1%) than in other state-funded schools and academies (0.3%). 

Sixty per cent of pupils in Catholic schools and academies are Catholic, as are just under half of the 47,662 teachers employed. Of the 316,070 non-Catholic pupils, just under half are from other Christian denominations. The largest non-Christian religion represented is Islam, with more than 34,000 Muslim pupils. 

Only 0.03% of all pupils, or just 277 of them, in Catholic schools across England are withdrawn from acts of collective worship such as Mass and prayers in assemblies. 

The figures come from the annual census of Catholic schools and academies conducted by the Catholic Education Service (CES), which acts on behalf of the Catholic Bishops' Conference and has supported Catholic education since 1847.  

Paul Barber, CES Director, said: “Catholic schools have led the way on diversity since the nineteenth century, when many were established to meet the needs of immigrants from Ireland. 

“Today they outperform national GCSE averages for English and Maths by five percentage points, with more pupils from the most deprived areas, and from ethnic minorities. Parents and pupils of other faiths and none rightly value this success and the distinctive, all-inclusive ethos of Catholic education.”  

Due to a 50% admissions cap for new religious schools, only two new Catholic ones have been built in England since 2010. The cap means a new Catholic school could be put in the position of turning away a pupil for being a Catholic, which is against canon law.

Catholic schools continue to convert into becoming Catholic academies, with a 17% increase in the past year. There are now 814 Catholic academies in England, run by 77 multi-academy trusts. 

Altogether, Catholic schools and academies make up 9% of the national total of the state-funded sector, making the Catholic Church the biggest provider of secondary education and the second-largest provider of primary education overall. 

Read the report on schools and academies in England

Pupils in Welsh Catholic schools are significantly more diverse than the national average, according to the latest data.  

More than 30% of pupils in Wales’s 82 Catholic state-funded primaries and secondaries are from an ethnic minority background, compared to 12.5% in all other schools.

Catholic schools in Wales also have more than four times as many black pupils, with 4.5% of the 28,176 pupils being Black or Black British, compared to 1.1% in all Welsh schools.

There is also more than twice the proportion of pupils from an Asian or Asian British background (6%), compared to 2.6% in other schools.   

Just over half (50.3%) of pupils in the sector are Catholic, as are 43.6% of the 1,644 teachers employed. 

A total of 73.4% of pupils in Welsh Catholic schools are Christians, and 80% are from a faith background. Of the 13,992 non-Catholic pupils, 46% of these are from other Christian denominations, 36.8% have no religion, and 5.7% are Muslims. 

The figures come from the annual census of Catholic schools conducted by the Catholic Education Service (CES), which acts on behalf of the Catholic Bishops' Conference and has supported Catholic education since 1847.  

Angela Keller, CES Wales Adviser, said: “Catholic schools are leading the way on diversity in Wales, with parents and pupils of other faiths and none valuing this as well as our distinctive ethos.

“The Welsh government has made closing the disadvantage gap within education a priority - this too has always been our mission.”

Catholic schools make up 6% of the national total of maintained schools across Wales. 

Read the report on schools and colleges in Wales – text also available in English.

Only five weeks remain for submissions to the 2023 Schools Competition of the Columban Missionaries in Britain – this year’s contest is titled Building Peaceful Futures, with the deadline for entries being 10 February.

The competition, which launched last September, is aimed at students aged 13-18 years old, who are invited to demonstrate an awareness of conflict and peacemaking in the world through either a written article or an original image. Students are being asked to research and spotlight people, communities and / or organisations trying to make the world a better place.

On 5 December Pope Francis tweeted: “The Word of God plunges us into daily life and calls us to listen to the cry of the poor and to heed the violence and injustice that wound our world. It challenges Christians not to be indifferent, but to be active, creative and prophetic.”

One of the competition judges is Columban Justice and Peace Education Worker in Britain, James Trewby, who visits young people in schools and sixth forms and runs workshops, retreats and assemblies to promote justice, peace and the integrity of creation.

He said: “There is much conflict in the world at the moment, but we mustn’t lose sight of the fact there are also many initiatives designed to build bridges and promote peace too! The Columbans are keen to nurture the student voice and provide an opportunity for young people to explore these areas and determine their own thoughts on conflict and whether it is inevitable. Besides this we want to ascertain young people’s understanding of peacebuilding, how and where it’s taking place and how faith can play a part.”

The competition winners will receive cash prizes worth up to £300, with other judges including journalists such as Ruth Gledhill of The Tablet and Josephine Siedlecka of Independent Catholic News. Winning entries will be published in the Columbans’ Far East magazine, Vocation for Justice newsletter, Columban websites and social media and in other Catholic media. 

A core aspect of Columban mission is justice, peace and ecology. Besides being members of Pax Christi International, the Catholic Church’s peace organisation, Columbans also support the National Justice and Peace Network of England and Wales. Irish Columban Fr Pat Cunningham, who works in South Korea and is also a judge, is active with the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative and a campaign in Korea to protest the militarisation of the beautiful Korean island of Jeju.

Another judge, Fr Kurt Zion Pala, is a Filipino Columban priest working in Myanmar, a country ruled by a military dictatorship. He particularly mentors young people in environmental education and action.

Teachers and students will find the Columban Competition website a useful resource. It includes information on the theme, an introductory video, examples of Columbans and others dedicated to building peace throughout the world, as well as Catholic Social Teaching on the theme of peace. There are also details on submission of entries and a helpful FAQ page. The website provides material suitable for students, teachers and parents.

This is the sixth annual such schools competition from the Columban Missionaries in Britain, with previous themes including migrants, climate change, racism, throwaway culture and 21st century changemakers.

Find out more

 

Paul Barber, Director of the CES said, "We are disappointed that the Government hasn't proceeded with the Schools Bill in it's current form. It would have provided a clear message from Government that Church schools are an important part of the school system as schools move towards a multi-academy trust model.

"The Schools Bill would have provided legislative protections for Church schools which currently exist in the maintained sector but are not currently in legislation for academies. 

"We welcome the assurances from the Secretary of State for Education that the Government is committed to legislating to provide equivalent statutory protections for academies with a religious character as exist for maintained schools in the areas of governance, RE and collective worship and land." 

Friday, 02 December 2022 09:42

Advent message from Bishop Marcus to schools

Marcus image

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

At this time of year, both the liturgy of Advent and the winter season bring thoughts and feelings of anticipation and longing. These changes in mood are beautifully brought to life in song both sacred and secular, and in celebration when families, friends, schools and parishes come together in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ at Christmas and the beginning of a new year.  

As this school term draws to its close, I would like to offer my thanks to leaders, teachers, learning assistants, chaplains and all staff who work in our diocesan schools and colleges. It is the love and commitment lived out in your vocation as educators that makes a Catholic school a place where children and young people can learn and flourish, be formed in Gospel values and grow in Christian virtues.

I wish to thank governors and trust boards, for their dedication in providing the stewardship and care of our school and college communities. Without your diligent assistance and the precious gift of your time, our schools and colleges would not have proved so resilient during the adversities of these past few years, nor be as well placed to meet the challenges which confront us now and lay ahead.

My heart feels a deep gratitude also to parents, guardians and families for all the support which you give to the schools and colleges entrusted with the education, welfare and spiritual development of your children. Schools can only build on what children learn in their homes. It is the love, reassurance and encouragement that you give to your children which makes you their first and best teachers, and it is the personal example of goodness that you give to them daily in their life at home which provides them with their first and best school.

During these joyous Advent and Christmas seasons, may Almighty God bless you, your families and loved ones, and keep you safe throughout the Year of Our Lord 2023.

With the assurance of my prayers for you all, I remain,

Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rt Rev Marcus Stock

Chair of the Catholic Education Service

Bishop of Leeds

Friday, 16 September 2022 11:08

Bishop Alan blesses new Peterborough school

New Peterborough schoolSt John Henry Newman Catholic Primary School and Nursery, in Hampton Water, Peterborough, has been blessed by Bishop Alan Hopes during a visit to the first new Catholic school to be opened in the whole country in more than a decade. 

Bishop Alan visited on September 14 to meet staff and pupils and to formally bless the school, which opened earlier in September with more than 50 nursery, reception, year 1 and 2 children already enrolled.

Once full, it can accommodate 630 children in 21 classrooms, making it the biggest Catholic Primary School in East Anglia.

Mark Cooper, head teacher at St John Henry Newman, said: “After many months, planning and preparing, we are delighted to welcome our first cohorts of Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 children to our school.

“The staff have worked incredibly hard over the summer to prepare the school for our children and the school is looking amazing. We are now excited to begin the children’s learning journey with us.

“It was fantastic to mark the opening of the school with Bishop Alan blessing our lovely school building. To have all of our children and staff together with people who have helped so much on the journey of our school development project was a very special moment.”

Flavio Vettese, Chair of Governors, said: “On behalf of the Governing Body of the school, I would sincerely like to thank Councillor Lynne Ayers for her tremendous support for the school, and I am delighted that she joined us today, and indeed will in the future, to witness the growth of the school. Our gratitude is also extended to Bishop Alan Hopes for his vision, commitment and inspiration to us all throughout the journey – he will always be a guiding light for us all.

“I am also grateful to our Headteacher Mark Cooper – he has already shown his commitment and dedication, and his experience and knowledge will ensure that St John Henry Newman will be an outstanding Catholic school.”

Visit the St John Henry Newman Catholic Primary School and Nursery website.

Pictured are pupils at St John Henry Newman School with Bishop Alan, Mark Cooper and their teachers - view a picture gallery of the blessing. Credit: Keith Morris/rcdea.org.uk

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