Marking the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Catholic Education Service (CES), Pope Francis has gratefully received a copy of the CES’s latest publication Catholic Schools: Partners in Formation.
The booklet – which includes an overview of Catholic schools in England and Wales – reflects on the distinctive nature of Catholic schools and on why the Church provides them.
It was presented to the Holy Father in the Vatican by CES Director Paul Barber, in his capacity as President of L’Office International Enseignement Catholique (OIEC).
The booklet has already received warm welcome by UK Parliamentarians earlier in the year, at an event which saw the guest of honour, Education Secretary the Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi, recognise the tremendous value of Catholic education across the country.
The chapters are illustrated with case studies of schools, teachers, parents, and alumni, which offer compelling testimonials of the Catholic ethos in action. In the famous words of Pope Francis, which the case studies testify to, “educating is an act of love; it is like giving life”.
Paul Barber, CES Director, said: “It was an honour to share the milestone of the 175th anniversary of the CES with the Holy Father, who understands the crucial presence and distinctive nature of Catholic schools. The testimonials contained within this booklet offer a small glimpse into the many good fruits of the Catholic ethos in schools in England and Wales, which we hope he will enjoy reading.”
The Catholic Church is currently the second-largest provider of education in England and Wales, with 2,200 schools, 850,000 pupils and 50,000 members of staff, and four universities. Educating more than a quarter of a million non-Catholics and with a pupil population significantly more ethnically and socially diverse than the national average, Catholic schools maintain their strong track record of being at the service of all.
The booklet concludes with an optimistic outlook for Catholic schools in England and Wales, for their next 175 years of forming well-rounded young people and contributing the highest standard of virtues-based education to the common good.
Paul Barber, Director of the Catholic Education Service said: “As the country’s second largest provider of schools and as a long-standing Government partner in the provision of education, we welcome the principles set out in today’s white paper.
“This country has a strong tradition of providing a dual system of both State and Church maintained schools. This approach has for generations provided parents, who are the primary educators of their children, with genuine choice in the education system. We therefore look forward to working with the Government to ensure that the continuation of this dual system is a core part of any future legislation.
“Furthermore, we also look forward to working with our partners in the Department for Education to ensure that the legal structures outlined in the white paper are fit for purpose for England’s 2000 Catholic schools.”
“Catholic schools welcome pupils from all backgrounds. This isolated incident has given a false impression of the inclusive nature of Catholic schools.
"Catholic schools are places where all children can flourish and as such have a zero-tolerance approach to LGBT+ discrimination. Nationally the CES has worked closely with schools, dioceses, and charities to produce Catholic inclusivity guidance and resources for schools that have won acclaim from LGBT+ organisations.
"We would encourage Catholic schools to work closely with their diocese to ensure that all Catholic schools can be welcoming and inclusive centres of learning where everyone is respected as a human being made in the image and likeness of God.”
Update: statement from the Archdiocese of Southwark
“At the heart of every Catholic school sits the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Catholic Church.
"We expect all Catholic schools to remain faithful to the Church’s teaching on the truth and dignity of the human person. This teaching should never give cause to foster a culture of bigotry or intolerance.
"In fact, hatred and discrimination is itself contrary to Church teaching as it fundamentally disrespects the God-given dignity of each human life.
"Any impression that the John Fisher school is anything other than an inclusive centre of learning that allows young people to flourish is deeply regrettable. The Archdiocese acted to ensure the material put in front of the children was age-appropriate.
"We are continuing to work with the John Fisher School moving forward.”
Speaking to a gathering of Catholic educators in Parliament on Wednesday (23 February), the Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Nadim Zahawi MP said he was ‘proud to call’ the Catholic Church a ‘partner’ in the provision of education.
The event was hosted by Conservative MP Mary Robinson and was celebrating the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Catholic Education Service (CES).
To mark the occasion the CES also used the opportunity to launch a new publication entitled Catholic Schools: Partners in Formation. The book gives a brief overview of the history of Catholic education in England and Wales as well as a reflection on why the Church continues to provide Catholic schools with their distinct ethos.
A copy of the book was presented to the Secretary of State by the Rt Rev Marcus Stock, Bishop of Leeds and Chairman of the Catholic Education Service.
The event was attended by more than 100 guests including representatives from Dioceses, Catholic universities, and other Catholic educational institutions.
Also in attendance was Amanda Spielman, Chief inspector of Ofsted, the Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel De Souza, representatives from the DfE, MPs (including the Rt Hon Jacob Rees Mogg) and members of the House of Lords.
In his speech to the assembled guests Bishop Marcus Stock said: “When it comes to being partners, the Catholic Church was the first provider of schools in England.
“Today with 2,200 schools, 850,000 pupils and 50,000 members of staff, and four universities, it is the second-largest provider of education in our country. This is an incredible achievement, and represents one of the most successful Government partnerships, in the delivery of such an essential service as education and schooling.”
Responding to the bishop in his speech the Rt Hon Nadim Zahawi MP said: “I am extremely grateful to be given an opportunity to speak to you all in person at this important event to celebrate 175 years of the Catholic Education Service.
“175 years is a significant achievement, so I just want to thank everyone in the room, and of course colleagues here who are so supportive of this extraordinary human endeavour and recognise the incredible valuable work that you do and have done and continue to on behalf of so many young people and staff in school across our country.
“You deserve high praise, since many of your schools serve some of our most diverse and disadvantaged communities where the challenges include reaching out to those families where neither parent may be in work or those for whom English is a second language - as it was for this Secretary of State.”
The Secretary of State concluded his speech by saying, in reference to the Catholic Church’s historic roll as a provider of schools that he was “proud to call [the Church] my partner”.
Pictured are The Rt Rev Marcus Stock, the Rt Hon Nadim Zahawi, and Mr Paul Barber (CES Director)
By The Right Reverend Marcus Stock, Bishop of Leeds, Chair of the Catholic Education Service, and The Right Reverend Bishop John Arnold, Bishop of Salford, Lead Bishop for the Environment
As we near the end of the first week of the COP26 UN climate summit, two Catholic bishops have issued a statement lauding the action and commitment of Catholic school pupils in their response to the ecological crisis.
Bishop Marcus Stock, Chair of the Catholic Education Service, and Bishop John Arnold, Lead Bishop for the Environment, acknowledge that it is young people that will have to live with the long-term impacts of the climate crisis but, equally, they are at the heart of the Church’s response:
“In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis asks us the key question, ‘What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?’ This is a profound question which gets to the heart of why the environmental crisis matters and the pressing need for us as a global community to reverse climate change.
“Ultimately our young people are the future, and it is they that will have to live with the long-term ramifications of the ecological crisis. However, it is also the young who can have the most impact in delivering the changes we need to address the climate emergency. That is why one of the most striking elements of the public’s response to the climate and ecological crisis, especially in the run up to the COP 26, is that it has been energised by the participation of children and young people.
Contemplative, active and prayerful response
“It has been really encouraging to see hundreds of thousands of young Catholics across the country get involved with projects that care for our common home, especially in our network of Catholic schools. We know that our pupils care passionately about this topic and many schools have embedded Pope Francis’ words and intentions from Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti into their wider school curriculum.
"In this way, the response to the ecological crisis by our young people can be both contemplative and active, but also rooted in prayer and in the teachings of the Church.
“Fundamental to Catholic education is the principle of the formation of the whole person and therefore it is right that Catholic schools are forming the next generation of the stewards of God’s creation.”
By Nigel Genders, Chief Education Officer, Church of England and Paul Barber, Director, Catholic Education Service
Today the Government announces its partner providers for the reformed suite of National Professional Qualifications (NPQ) for teachers and education leaders which launches in the autumn. We are delighted that, among nine national providers, is a new partnership between the Church of England and Catholic Education Service.
The new frameworks for NPQs is an expansive vision for the whole education sector, and we are pleased that the Government has recognised the strengths of our shared vision for children and adults to flourish, and we are enormously excited to be working together at a pivotal moment across the education sector.
Together the Catholic Church and Church of England, run more than a third of all the country’s schools and play a particularly rich role in the wider education landscape. Our delivery of these qualifications will be across all parts of the country, from Northumberland to Cornwall, from Herefordshire to East Anglia. We will be working with a fantastic range of delivery partners – Teaching School Hubs, Multi Academy Trusts and high performing schools – in each region, and we look forward to welcoming many thousands of teachers and leaders onto the suite of NPQ programmes in the coming years.
And our offer is not just for our own schools, but for everyone, with a particular focus on ensuring that rural school leaders can access and benefit from the programmes. At a local level, this will mean exciting new partnerships between schools, MATs and other networks. At a national level, it will enable us to play our full role in investing heavily in the thing we know the evidence shows makes the biggest difference – our core purpose as leaders – leading a culture of teacher excellence.
The new NPQ frameworks are built from a rich, evidence-informed understanding of what works in school leadership, and they create a clear pathway for teachers’ formation over their whole careers. The coherence and clarity of the national roll-out of the Early Career Framework (ECF) reforms, the re-shaping of the Senior Leadership (NPQSL), Headship (NPQH) and Executive Leadership (NPQEL) programmes, and the creation of new specialist qualifications for aspiring school leaders can give us real confidence about a professional development entitlement that works for leaders in all schools – small and large, primary and secondary, rural and urban.
This is a step-change in leadership thinking, which is not seeking simply a more productive workforce, or a deeper academic understanding of research literature. Rather, it is calling back educational leaders to our core purpose – leading a culture of teacher excellence.
Providing these NPQ programmes across the country gives us a unique opportunity to place teacher excellence at the heart of our recovery from the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. This central focus on culture will be key to our delivery, and on every course, every leader will be working closely with an expert coach to explore and plan how to apply knowledge effectively into a variety of contexts.
Whether teaching a mixed-age class in a small rural primary school, or leading a large MAT across a region or nation, our first call in educational leadership is to put teaching first. Although there are many other aspects of our roles, these can sometimes cloud or distract us from this core purpose – to secure the very best teaching experience for every child in our care. And that means leadership built on authenticity, integrity and a renewed sense of vision and purpose.
In 2016, the Church of England published its Vision for Education, articulating a focus on Wisdom, Knowledge & Skills, Hope & Aspiration, Community & Living Well Together and Dignity & Respect. Putting this vision into practice starts with leaders who build a culture of teacher excellence. Similarly, in 2018 the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales commissioned the Formatio initiative to support the development and formation of leaders in Catholic schools. As such it should come as no surprise as to why we are so pleased to be playing our part in the new NPQ landscape.
Creating and sustaining such a culture means we can fully realise our vision for education for every child, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Through pursuing excellence in teaching and working together for the common good, we will be enacting social justice for every community.
BISHOP MARCUS’ CHRISTMAS MESSAGE TO CATHOLIC SCHOOLS
With the assurance of my prayers for you all, I remain, yours in Christ Jesus
Chairman of Catholic Education Service
Bishop of Leeds