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)