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
On 22 June 2015, four children from Our Lady of Pity Primary School in years 5 and 6 won the UK Mathematics Challenge at Birkenhead School against other local Wirral Primary schools.
The UKMT Team Challenges promote mathematical dexterity, teamwork and communication skills. They also give pupils the opportunity to compete against pupils from other schools in their region. Activities included a group round, cross-number and a mathematical relay.
Singapore mathematicss techniques are currently being implemented at Our Lady of Pity and the children had great fun using Singaporean methods to answer the questions.
Katie Hogan, a trainee teacher who led the children from Our Lady of Pity said, 'this was a fantastic opportunity for the children to demonstrate their mathematics skills in a competitive environment. All of the children thoroughly enjoyed the day and we would like to thank Birkenhead School for organising the event.'
Notes to editors:
Following an invitation from the School Parliament, local MP Mike Kane visited Saint Paul’s Catholic High School in Wythenshawe where he spoke to a group of Year 9 and Year 10 pupils about his role as an MP.
After talking about his experiences, Mike then opened the floor to questions from the students. As expected from Saint Paul’s, the questions dispelled any lingering myths about political apathy amongst the young. Topics covered a wide range of current affairs with the pupils showing that they have a very lively interest in politics and what is happening in the world.
Ms Una McCaughey from Saint Paul’s said: “The question and answer session was fantastic, it was a heated debate and an amazing experience. Mike Kane said he'd happily take some of our pupils to be part of his future campaigns!”
“The pupils asked some very thought provoking and apt questions; they engaged really well and I was proud of them,” commented Mrs Fiona Minshall, Head Teacher at Saint Paul’s. “They had obviously given some thought to their questions and I think it’s excellent that they are interested in, and have a passion for, politics and current affairs.”
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Notes for Editors
- Saint Paul’s received congratulations from the Rt Hon David Laws MP Minister of State for Schools when they were recognised as one of the 100 most improved schools in the country.
- On 1st April, 2013 Saint Paul’s Catholic High School joined with St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School and St John Fisher and Thomas More Catholic Primary School to form the Wythenshawe Catholic Academy Trust (MAT – Multi Trust Academy). St Elizabeth's Catholic Primary School later joined the Trust.
- Saint Paul’s was the first school in Manchester to be awarded Engineering College status.
- The work of Saint Paul’s drama teacher, Ms Ellie Brookes, was recognised with her winning the much coveted North West Teacher of the Year Award. Also Head of Humanities at Saint Paul’s, Ms Ursula Gallagher, gained third place in the Outstanding New Teacher of the Year category of the Northern Area Teacher of the Year.
- Lively approaches to teaching maintain vigour and ensure that firm foundations are established for higher level work. The school has a modern approach to learning supported by a programme of constant refurbishment and development of its facilities and resources.
- The aims of the school are to:
- Teach and foster a Christian perspective in all that it does
- Provide teaching of the highest calibre
- Promote excellence in all areas
- Develop the ability, talents and character of each pupil, enabling them to make their own unique contribution to school life
- Encourage boys to play their part in helping the community run smoothly and effectively, by taking on responsibility and leadership
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."