CES News (119)
There are now more than 400 Catholic academies up and running in England according to the latest figures released by the Catholic Education Service.
This equates to 37% of Catholic secondary schools and almost a fifth, 18%, of all Catholic schools in England now achieving academy status.
Of the 404 Catholic academies in England, 280 are primary, 124 are secondary. Catholic schools currently account for 10% of the total number of state maintained schools in the country.
The Catholic Church has managed schools in England for more than a century and has been at the forefront of education innovation, pioneering many of the academy models in use today.
The Diocese of Nottingham has been one of the most enthusiastic supporters of academies with more than 60% of its schools now converted.
Nottingham Diocesan Director of Education, Peter Giorgio commented: “Academies provide schools with the autonomy to cater for the educational needs of their pupils.
“What’s more academy status gives Catholic schools greater freedom to develop their commitment to the formation of the whole child.”
Paul Barber, Director of the Catholic Education Service commented: “We are really pleased with the great work Catholic academies are doing up and down the country.
“Academy status can prove really effective for schools allowing them to adapt elements such as the curriculum and the school day to secure the best education for each and every child.
“However, no two schools are the same so the decision to convert into an academy must be made by the local diocese, in collaboration with parents and the wider community.”
Notes to editors:
The Catholic Church is the largest provider of secondary and second largest provider of primary education in England.
There are currently 2156 Catholic Schools in England educating upwards of 813,000 pupils.
The chair of the Education Select Committee, Neil Carmichael MP, has reiterated his support for Church schools.
Mr Carmichael confirmed his support for faith-based education at a fringe event organised by the Catholic Education Service (CES) in conjunction with the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) at this year’s Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.
The panel also included IEA director, Professor Philip Booth, Schools Week editor Laura McInerney, Daily Telegraph journalist Dr Tim Stanley and CES director Paul Barber.
The panel was unanimous in its support for the continued state funding of Church schools, with many citing the fact that Catholic schools are the most ethnically diverse in England and take higher than the national average of children from the poorest backgrounds.
During the discussion around the subject ‘should the state fund faith schools?’ Mr Carmichael commented on the important role Church schools play in providing parental choice in education.
He said: “Church schools play a big and important role in our wide range of schools.”
Mr Carmichael went on to stress the importance of strong leadership and governance in these schools, especially at the hands of parent and foundation governors.
He added: “It is necessary for Catholics, as well as members of other religions, to understand what they need to cultivate in schools is a culture of strong leadership and governance, and Ofsted has every right to inspect schools on this.”
CES Director, Paul Barber commented: “Our event at this year’s Conservative Party Conference was a great chance for us to promote the fantastic work Catholic schools do and I warmly welcome Mr Carmichael’s comments.
“The panel discussion was really interesting and I’d like to thank all our key speakers for their robust defence of Church schools. I would also like to thank the IEA for co-hosting this event with us.”
Paul Barber, Director of the Catholic Education Service commented: “School admissions are extremely complex and are accompanied by hundreds of pages of legal framework, so the most likely causes of breaches in the code are unintended admin errors.
“The BHA ‘research’ only takes into account a small cross-section of schools and fails to represent the national picture outlined by the Office of School Adjudicator in its most recent report.
“We expect all Catholic schools to comply with the code and local dioceses provide support for schools to do so. It is because of our admissions system that Catholic schools are the most ethnically diverse in England and contain higher than the national average of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
CES responds to Government’s free school announcement
The Catholic Education Service (CES), is disappointed that it’s prohibited from the Government’s push for free schools due to an arbitrary cap on admissions.
The largest provider of secondary education in England and Wales, the Catholic Church, is unable to open new free schools despite significant demand from many thousands of parents.
Whilst the CES welcomes the provision of 9,000 more school places, announced today by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Education, it is concerned why an education provider such as the Catholic Church, with a strong track record of providing high quality schooling, is being stopped from participating in this flagship Government policy.
The cap prohibits any potential Catholic free school from accepting more than half their pupils on religious grounds.
Paul Barber, Director of the CES, said: “Catholic schools are some of the best performing educational institutions in the country and there is a significant demand from parents.
“We are not opposed at all to the principle of free schools, however today’s announcement will be disappointing news to the thousands of parents who are unable to get their child a place at a Catholic school.
“If it is a question of diversity and promoting community cohesion, it would be worth the Government remembering that 36% of pupils at Catholic schools come from ethnic minority backgrounds, six per cent higher than the national average.
“We share the Government’s desire to provide hundreds of thousands of quality school places and its plan to give parents more choice in education.
“Providing high quality schooling is something the Catholic Church already does and the CES would ask the Government to remove the barriers which hinder us continuing to do this.”
Notes to editors
The Catholic Education Service is an agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
83% of Catholic schools have been rated good or outstanding by Ofsted
At GCSE Catholic schools outperform the national average by eight percentage points
At age 11, Catholic schools outperform the national average English and Maths scores by five percentage points
Press Statement - 15 June 2015
"The Catholic Education Service welcomes the Westminster Faith Debates report A New Settlement: Religion and Belief in Schools as an important contribution to the debate on the place of religion in schools. The report acknowledges the important role which Church schools play in the public sector and supports Catholic parents' right to send their children to Catholic schools.
"We welcome the report's support for the admission and employment criteria in Catholic schools. Catholic schools serve first and foremost the Catholic community, reflecting the vast contribution that the community makes in terms of their provision and ownership of the land and school buildings, financial contributions and support given by parents and governors.
"The purpose of Religious Education (RE) in Catholic schools differs from that of community schools. RE is at the core of a Catholic school and must make up 10% of curriculum time. Catholic RE equips students with the skills to discern and deepen their faith and teach them about the faiths of other religious communities in order to respect and understand them. Regular Diocesan inspections of this curriculum holds Catholic schools publicly accountable.
"Given the distinctive nature of RE in Catholic schools, any national RE curriculum would not fulfil the purposes of RE in both Catholic and community schools. Catholic schools will continue to follow the RE curriculum as set out by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales."
Press Statement – 17 February 2015
Relationship & Sex Education (RSE) is essential for young people to learn about the nature of marriage, family life and relationships, taught in an age appropriate way. In Catholic schools RSE must be taught in the context of Church teaching and with the full consultation and involvement of parents.
The Catholic Education Service (CES) submitted written evidence to the Education Select Committee inquiry on PSHE and SRE and were called to give oral evidence. We are pleased that our comments are shown within many of the Committee’s recommendations.
We welcome the Committee’s support for the role of parents in RSE. This is shown in their recommendations that all schools should be required to run a regular consultation with parents on the school’s RSE provision and that the parental right to withdraw their child from elements of RSE should be retained.
We welcome the Committee’s emphasis on relationships within RSE. The CES will continue to highlight the importance of teaching RSE within a context which considers Church teaching, parents’ wishes and the culture of the community that the school serves. We believe in subsidiarity and that Governing Bodies should be able to decide what resources are most appropriate for the school.
We also welcome funding of continuous professional development for teachers and Ofsted’s oversight of the subject. We congratulate The John Henry Newman Catholic School, a secondary comprehensive school in Stevenage, as the best practice example used by the Committee to illustrate what outstanding RSE looks like.
Currently, Catholic schools, like all other schools in England, are required to produce a written policy following the guidance issued by the Department for Education on Sex and Relationship Education (SRE).
Education Select Committee’s Report can be found here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmeduc/145/14502.htm
A summary of the Education Selection Committee’s report can be found here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/education-committee/news/pshe-sre-report/
More information can be found on Ofsted’s website about The John Henry Newman Catholic School as providers of outstanding sex and relationships education in a Catholic context https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/outstanding-sex-and-relationships-education-in-a-catholic-context
Catholic schools make up 10% of the national total of maintained schools. There are 2156 Catholic schools in England educating 816,007 pupils and employing 47,986 teachers.
Press release – Tuesday 10 February 2015
The Catholic Education Service is providing schools and teachers with resources to use in the run up to the general election. The resources follow the theme of ‘Active Citizenship’.
The CES has produced a collection of resources for schools and teachers to use in order to encourage Catholics of school-age to take part in active citizenship. The resources are available to download from the CES website www.catholiceducation.org.uk and include: lesson resources on the political process, lesson resources on the Church and politics, theological resources on what the Church says about ‘active citizens’, saints and prayer cards, profiles of Catholics in public life, and useful links.
The director of the CES, Paul Barber, said, “These resources are an excellent way for schools and teachers to encourage active citizenship in their pupils from a young age. The range is age-appropriate and uses the Catechism of the Catholic Church to reflect the ways in which Catholic values assist and support the objectives of active citizenship.”
As the general election approaches, the work of the CES links to the call of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales for all Catholics "to think about the kind of society we want here at home and abroad." For Catholics over the age of 18 and eligible to vote this means to engage positively in the democratic process, but for Catholics of all ages this means to reflect on and act to ensure we are all active citizens.
The CES has received queries from schools wanting advice on whether they can allow pupils to take part in fundraising activities for Comic Relief and Red Nose Day. These activities are often popular but concerns have been expressed that some of the money raised may be spent on either providing or promoting abortion services. The CES has raised these concerns recently with Comic Relief. Please see below the response from Comic Relief on these matters.
Press Release - 15th December 2014
St Benedict's Catholic School in Bury St Edmunds was shocked to learn that the school has been placed on an Ofsted list of schools that are not dealing effectively with extremism and radicalism, despite Ofsted inspectors highlighting none of these concerns in their recent no-notice inspection in September.
Mr O'Neill, Headteacher of St Benedict's, said, "I can only suppose that the inclusion of St Benedict's on the list was the result of the first "flawed" inspection report. I could just about understand how that error might have occurred. What worries me is that Ofsted were informed of the mistake two weeks ago, and have failed to provide an adequate response. It is also very disturbing that, if they do maintain that the dangers of radicalisation and extremism still exist at St Benedict's, they have done nothing to inform me, the governors or the Diocesan Education Office of the danger.
"We have had to accept that the no-notice inspection was not triggered by the "Trojan horse" affair, but was a routine inspection- despite the fact that it took place less than 18 months after our previous inspection. The continuing accusation that this school is one of a handful identified with radicalisation and extremism concerns is hugely disturbing. I think parents and the local community deserve to know why St Benedict's Catholic School remains at the centre of this Ofsted focus, when their Senior HMI, Asyia Khazmi, assured both me and the governors that she was satisfied that no such concern remained.''
Paul Barber, Director of the Catholic Education Service, said, "We are extremely concerned that Ofsted is publicly listing St Benedict's as one of the eleven schools which 'were not preparing pupils for life in Britain today.' These concerns cannot be found in the School's Ofsted report. This is an unjust and unsubstantiated accusation and we hope Ofsted will clarify this matter and apologise to the school and parents for the confusion and upset caused.
"We are proud that Catholic schools promote values that are both Catholic and British, including: respect for the individual, democracy, individual liberty, respect, tolerance and inclusiveness. Our schools promote cohesion by serving more ethnically diverse and poorer communities. Catholic schools provide high standards of education which are popular with parents from all social, economic and faith backgrounds.
"We welcome the role of Ofsted in ensuring accountability, transparency and inclusive education for all, regardless of belief. However it is essential that Ofsted provides support and clarification for their own staff on the matter of British Values to prevent mistakes like this from reccurring."