High quality Religious Education is essential for producing well rounded, religiously literate young people. In a similar respect, well taught Relationship and Sex Education plays a vital role in preparing children for life in modern Wales as well as keeping them safe.
Therefore, Catholic schools already teach high quality RE and RSE, and they teach it well. In fact, our model RSE curriculum is widely recognised as best practice, not just for Catholic schools but for secular schools as well.
Nevertheless, parents are the primary educators of their children and schools exist to support, not replace them. This is particularly important when dealing with sensitive and deeply personal topics such as faith and RSE. To remove the right of withdrawal would, therefore, be huge erosion of parental rights and represent regressive step in the relationship between parents and the state.
The parental right of withdrawal is an essential principle which incentivises a constructive dialogue between schools and parents. This is what Catholic schools already do, and in 2018 no pupils were withdrawn from RSE in Catholic schools. We see this as a mark of success and not as an excuse to remove this right.
We are also deeply concerned about the proposed name change of RE to include ‘worldviews’ as this would represent a dumbing down of RE. By including a range of non-religious ‘worldviews’ into, what is in Catholic schools, an academically rigorous theological discipline, would water down RE and reduce it to an over-simplistic comparison exercise which fails to understand the deep fundamentals of faith and religion.
Notes to Editors
There are 85 Catholic schools in Wales educating more than 28,000 young people and employing almost 3,000 members of staff.
The Catholic Church and the Church in Wales are the only non-state providers of schools in Wales.
The belief that parents are the primary educators of their children is enshrined in Canon Law (the law of the Catholic Church)
RSE in Catholic schools is faithful to the Church's vision of human wholeness whilst recognising the contemporary context in which we live today.
Links to the Catholic model RSE curriculum can be found here: http://www.catholiceducation.org.uk/schools/relationship-sex-education
RE in Catholic schools is at the core of the core curriculum and accounts for 10% of the timetable. Whilst predominately focused on the Catholic theological tradition, it covers all the major world faiths as well as the atheist critique of religion.
The Bishop of Salford addressed a well-attended fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference yesterday.
The reception, organised by the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, The Catholic Education Service, and the Catholic Herald, celebrated the work of the Church in public life.
More than 70 MPs, local councillors and party members attended the event to hear from the Bishop of Salford, the Rt Rev. John Arnold.
Bishop John paid tribute to the work of Catholics in public life, thanking them for their vocation to serve the common good.
In his speech he also stressed the need for more kindness in the country’s political discourse as well as the desire for all political parties to prioritise measures to tackle the climate emergency.
The Theological and Philosophical faculties, to be known as Mater Ecclesiae College, will open on the 1st October 2019 in its new home at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.
Prior to this move, the Institute was based at Heythrop College which, on the 31st January 2019, ceased to be a college of the University of London.
In July of this year, the Holy See, by a Decree of the Congregation for Catholic Education, transferred the Faculties of Theology and Philosophy from Heythrop College to St Mary’s University with governance being transferred from the Society of Jesus to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
Mater Ecclesiae College will remain the only faculties in the UK with the ability to confer ecclesiastical degrees – qualifications recognised throughout the Catholic Church.
In October 2019 Pope Francis calls us all to renew our missionary commitment through a special month of prayer and action.
Schools are encouraged to join with our worldwide Catholic community to help pupils in their own mission to work and pray together to share God’s love with everyone, everywhere.
For secondary schools, Missio offers a workshop and short reflections to download, focusing on EMM and Christus Vivit. Find these and other secondary materials at https://missio.org.uk/emm-schools-page/
Mission Together, Missio’s children’s branch, has created resources to help primary schools mark this special month, including assemblies, activities and liturgies. These are available to download at https://missiontogether.org.uk/an-extraordinary-month-of-mission/
Missio is the Pope’s charity for world mission.
Through Mission Together, the children’s branch of Missio, children everywhere live out their mission: to share God’s love with the whole world. In a unique exchange of love and friendship children pray for and share with one another. Pope Francis has made October 2019 an Extraordinary Month of Mission during which he calls us to make a special effort to share God’s love around the world. No one is too young or too small to take part.
To mark this special occasion, Mission Together is inviting children in England and Wales to design a postcard, showing how Mission Together helps children all over the world, by feeding hungry people with food and hope; offering those who are thirsty water and faith and helping people who are sick with medicine and prayers.
The theme of the design is: ‘Our Mission: To Share God’s Love with the Whole World’. The competition is open to all children living in England and Wales aged between 5 and 14.
For information about the competition please visit www.missiontogether.org.uk/pupil-postcard-competition and to find out more about the Extraordinary Month of Mission please go to www.missio.org.uk/emm
The Rt Rev Marcus Stock, Bishop of Leeds, has been elected as the new Chairman of the Catholic Education Service.
He was elected at the Bishops’ spring plenary held at the Royal English College in Valladolid, Spain and succeeds the Most Rev, Malcolm McMahon, Archbishop of Liverpool.
Archbishop McMahon, who has chaired the CES since 2009, was elected as the Vice President of the Bishops’ Conference.
Bishop Stock was Director of Schools for the Archdiocese of Birmingham between 1999 – 2009 and Acting Director of the CES between 2011 – 13. He has been a member of the Management Committee of the CES since 2015.
Bishop Stock commented: “The Catholic Education Service provides vital support and guidance for dioceses and schools throughout England and Wales, and I look forward as its new Chairman to working with the CES in the years ahead.
“I would like to thank Archbishop McMahon for the dedicated and faithful service he has given to the CES over the last ten years and assure him of our prayers for his new role.”
As part of the revision of the Religious Education Curriculum Directory we are seeking the views of teachers. This will be done in two stages. The first stage is to ask schools to complete a questionnaire. The questionnaire can be completed using this link:
The deadline for questionnaire submissions is 24th May 2019.
The second stage is to invite teachers to a face to face consultation as part of the CREDO professional development days in the summer. The dates and venues for these are as follows:
Saturday 22 June, St Mary’s University, Twickenham
Tuesday 25 June, Leeds Trinity University
Wednesday 26 June, Liverpool Hope University
Wednesday 3 July, Newman University, Birmingham
To see full details for each of these days and to book a place please use the links below:
For Saturday 22 June at St Mary’s, click here:
For Tuesday 25 June at Leeds Trinity, click here:
For Wednesday 26 June at Liverpool Hope, click here:
For Wednesday 3 July at Newman, click here:
The revised edition of the Religious Education Curriculum Directory has a planned publication date of September 2020.
Paul Barber, Director of the Catholic Education Service commented: “We welcome this commitment by the Government to improve Relationships and Sex Education in all schools.
“Catholic education is centred on the formation of the whole child and age appropriate RSE is an essential part of this. It is essential for creating well rounded young people, for equipping students to make good life choices, and for keeping our children safe.
“As such, the Catholic schools’ sector is the only one in the country to have a comprehensive and holistic RSE curriculum for ages 3-19. The proposals announced by the Government today are compatible with the Catholic model curriculum.
“In fact, the Government’s own statutory guidance recognises the Catholic RSE curriculum as an excellent example for schools to use and is one of the few external organisations the guidance referenced as best practice examples.
“The Catholic Church teaches that parents are the prime educators of their children and we are pleased to see the Government sharing this fundamental principle.”
A spokesperson for the Catholic Education Service commented: “As a leading provider of Religious Education, we welcome the laudable efforts of the Commission to improve the quality of RE in all schools. However, for this noble aim to be achieved, there needs to be consensus among the RE community on what high quality RE looks like. Disappointingly, this report fails to produce such a consensus.
“Any attempt to improve the quality of RE in all schools must be applauded and we are committed to working with the RE community to achieve this. However, this report is not so much an attempt to improve RE as to fundamentally change its character. The proposed name change to include ‘worldviews’ means that the scope of the subject is now so wide and nondescript that it would potentially lose all academic value and integrity. As we have always maintained, the quality of Religious Education is not improved by teaching less religion.
“RE in Catholic schools is academically rigorous, rooted in the 2000-year-old theological tradition of the Catholic Church, and inspired by the greatest thinkers, from the theology of St Thomas Aquinas to the humanism of St Thomas More. This is why at GCSE, pupils in Catholic schools account for a fifth of all entrants and continually outperform the national average.
“The Catholic Church will always welcome any move to improve the quality RE, our praise of the new, more academically rigorous GCSE is proof of that. Moreover, the Commission’s recommendation for the DfE to review the impact of excluding RE from the Ebacc is something we wholeheartedly agree with.
“The quality of RE in all schools needs to be improved and there are many ways this can be achieved. Including it as an Ebacc subject is one, succumbing to this contentious redefinition of Religious Education is not.”
Notes to Editors
The Catholic schools sector account for a fifth of all GCSE RE entrants and consistently outperform the national average.
10% of the curriculum in Catholic schools is dedicated to the teaching of RE.
The RE curriculum in Catholic schools is stipulated by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales and is set out in their Religious Education Curriculum Directory.
Religious Education in Catholic schools draws predominantly on the academic discipline of theology, and is essentially a school level version of the theological discipline taught in most universities. In non-denominational school contexts the approach to RE is largely sociological.
Catholic RE is pluralistic and covers the teaching of all the world’s major religions as well as concepts such as atheism and humanism
The Catholic Church has welcomed the Government’s move to improve Relationship Education in primary schools, Relationship and Sex Education secondary schools and Health Education in all schools.
Catholic schools already perform high quality Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) and the Catholic sector is the only one with a model curriculum covering ages 3 -19.
The Catholic Church also welcomed the fact that the Government had used the Catholic model curriculum as examples of best practice.
Catholic education centres around the formation of the whole child, therefore the teaching of healthy relationships is an essential part of this.
Fundamental to Catholic belief is that parents are the primary educators of their children and the Government’s recommendations are clear that the right for parents right of withdrawal will be maintained.
Also welcomed was that schools with a religious character will continue to be able to approach Relationship and Sex Education within the tenants of their own faith.
The Most Rev Malcolm McMahon, Archbishop of Liverpool and Chair of the Catholic Education Service commented:
“Catholic schools already teach high quality and age-appropriate Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) and will continue to do so. Catholic education revolves around the formation of the whole child; RSE is key to this and we welcome the Government’s commitment to improving it in all schools.
“The reason why Catholic schools do RSE well, is because they teach it in full conjunction with parents who are the primary educators of their children. It is good to see that the Department for Education will continue to support parents and teachers to ensure that RSE provision in all schools will be of a high quality.”
Notes to editors
There are more than 2200 Catholic schools in England and Wales
RSE in Catholic schools is faithful to the Church's vision of human wholeness whilst recognising the contemporary context in which we live today. It provides a positive view of human sexuality and dignity of the human person and equips young people with the ability to make practical judgments about the right thing to do in particular circumstances. It is delivered in an age appropriate way and involves parents as they are the primary educators of their child.
The model Catholic curriculum and guidance can be found here: http://www.catholiceducation.org.uk/schools/relationship-sex-education