CES News (152)

Monday, 15 December 2014 00:00

OFSTED confusion over British Values

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."


Press Release – 28 November 2014

Today the Catholic Education Service (CES) published its annual census of Catholic schools and colleges in England and Wales. This year the response rate from Catholic schools reached 100% making this data the most accurate ever.

Paul Barber, Director of CES, said “It is a testimony to the hard work of all involved that this year’s census had a 100% return rate. This means that our data is much more reliable than many other sources of national data and provides a clear indication of the important role that Catholic schools play in the education sector. As the largest provider of secondary schools and the second largest provider of primary schools, we will continue to work to raise education standards and provide an inclusive education for all.”

The Census revealed a growth in the size of the sector with an increase of 3795 pupils educated in Catholic maintained schools and an increase of 1322 teachers working in Catholic maintained schools in England since last year. The Catholicity of pupils and teachers remained constant from previous years.

The Census also showed that Catholic schools continue to serve more diverse communities and there has been an increase in the proportion of pupils from ethnic minorities. 35.9% of pupils in Catholic maintained primary schools are from ethnic minority backgrounds (29.5% nationally) and 31.4% of pupils in Catholic maintained secondary schools are from ethnic minority backgrounds (25.3% nationally).

The proportion of pupils from deprived areas has also increased from last year. 17.9% of pupils at Catholic maintained secondary schools live in the most deprived areas (12.0% nationally). In primary schools the gap has widened considerably since 2013.  19.2% (18.4% in 2013) of pupils at Catholic maintained primary schools live in the most deprived areas (10% (13.8% in 2013) nationally).

Note to editors

The Catholic Education Service (CES) is an agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

The CES Census digests for England and for Wales and a Key Facts summary bookmark can be found on our website http://www.catholiceducation.org.uk/ces-census

Press Release-  Friday 7th November 2014

The Catholic Education Service (CES) has welcomed the Government’s proposals for a new academically rigorous Religious Education GCSE and Religious Education A Level. The proposals, which are out for public consultation, put forward a more academically rigorous GCSE which includes the teaching of two religions. The widely welcomed A Level reforms propose increased religious content to ensure the right breadth and depth of study to support students progressing to higher education.

The Most Reverend Malcolm McMahon OP KC*HS, Archbishop of Liverpool, and Chairman of CES said: “Theologically rigorous RE is a core part of Catholic education. These reforms to GCSE RE and A Level RE provide us with an opportunity to ensure that Religious Education at GCSE and A Level in Catholic schools is academically and theologically rigorous in accordance with Canon Law.

“Catholic schools account for 25% of the entries at RE GCSE and 20% of the entries at RE A Level. As the single largest provider of entries to both RE GCSE and RE A Level, we have worked in partnership with the Government to ensure that these proposals are fit for purpose in Catholic schools.  We welcome the assurances from the Secretary of State that these proposals do not undermine the autonomy of the Catholic Bishops to determine and inspect religious education in Catholic schools.

“All Catholic schools are required by Church teachings to raise pupils’ awareness of the faith and traditions of other religious communities in order to understand and respect them. These new proposals will facilitate Catholic schools in this duty.”

RE must make up at least 10% of curriculum time in a Catholic school and is inspected separately under long-standing arrangements currently set out in the 2005 Education Act.



Notes to editors

The Catholic Education Service (CES) is an agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Catholic schools represent 10% of state maintained schools and currently make up 25% of all entries to GCSE RE and 20% of all entries to RE A Level. (Source: Department for Education ‘KS4 qualification and subject data’ KS5 qualification and subject data http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/performance/download_data.html )

Church teaching on the requirement for all Catholic schools to teach interreligious-dialogue can be found in the following Vatican and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales documents:

  • Congregation for Catholic Education (for Institutes of Study), Educating to Intercultural Dialogue in Catholic Schools Living in Harmony for a Civilization of Love, Vatican City (2013)
  • The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Meeting God in Friend and Stranger, CTS, London (2010)
  • The Department of Catholic Education and Formation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Religious Education Curriculum Directory (RECD), 2012,

The Religious Education Curriculum Directory states the aims of Religious Education (p6):

  1. To present engagingly a comprehensive content which is the basis of knowledge and understanding of the Catholic faith;
  2. To enable pupils continually to deepen their religious and theological understanding and be able to communicate this effectively;
  3. To present an authentic vision of the Church’s moral and social teaching so that pupils can make a critique of the underlying trends in contemporary culture and society;
  4. To raise pupils’ awareness of the faith and traditions of other religious communities in order to respect and understand them;
  5. To develop the critical faculties of pupils so that they can relate their Catholic faith to daily life;
  6. To stimulate pupils’ imagination and provoke a desire for personal meaning as revealed in the truth of the Catholic faith;
  7. To enable pupils to relate the knowledge gained through Religious Education to their understanding of other subjects in the curriculum;
  8. To bring clarity to the relationship between faith and life, and between faith and culture.

The outcome of excellent Religious Education is religiously literate and engaged young people who have the knowledge, understanding and skills – appropriate to their age and capacity – to reflect spiritually, and think ethically and theologically, and who are aware of the demands of religious commitment in everyday life.

5 November 2014
Press Release - For immediate release

The Church of England Education Division and Catholic Education Service have called for action on Religious Studies GCSE

The Church of England's Education Division and the Catholic Education Service (representing over 6,000 schools and 1.7 million pupils) have welcomed the Prime Minister's commitment to launch a new set of criteria for Religious Studies qualifications at GCSE and A-Level without delay.

The two religious bodies have worked closely with Department for Education officials to draft the new criteria, which ensures that Religious Studies offers pupils breadth, rigour and a rich understanding of systems of thought held by three quarters of the world's population.

The Church of England's Chief Education Officer, Rev'd Nigel Genders, said: "Looking at the world today, it is hard to overstate the importance of equipping the young people of this country with a challenging and rigorous education which includes religious literacy. This new set of criteria will provide qualifications which do exactly that, and I hope the government will act to launch them publically as soon as possible."

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, Chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference Department of Education and Formation, said: "In Catholic schools, Religious Education forms the core of the curriculum which is why we have worked closely with the Department for Education in developing a rigorous set of criteria. We are therefore excited about the opportunities that these will give our schools in delivering an academic study of religious education which conforms with the Bishops' requirements, and look forward to the imminent launch of the consultation."

Thursday, 23 October 2014 11:29

Children in Need 2014

The CES has received queries from schools wanting advice on whether they can allow pupils to take part in fundraising activities for Children in Need. 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 Children in Need. Please see below the response from Children in Need on these matters:


"You can find information and guidance on the type of projects BBC Children in Need funds in the Guidance section of our website. BBC Children in Need does not fund projects for pregnancy testing; or advice, information or counselling on pregnancy choices."


The Catholic Education Service has today responded to the Department for Education (DfE) consultation the 'Proposed New Independent School Standards'. The consultation document can be found here

A number of schools have contacted us with queries relating to the consultation. Please be assured that we do not consider the proposed requirements to present any problems for Catholic schools.

Catholic schools are already required to comply with the requirements of the Equality Act and, as public bodies, specifically with the Public Sector Equality Duties. These are set within the context of the freedoms that apply to schools with a religious character. (Please see CES guidance on the Equality Act and the Public Sector Equality Duty)  

The CES has already engaged in discussions with the DfE about 'British values'. In the regulations this consultation refers to, these values are set out as; "democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs". None of these ought to be problematic in our schools.

The CES is aware that the DfE is intending to make the same requirements of all schools and will be updating guidance to help schools to understand what this should look like. The CES is of course engaging with the DfE in relation to the production of that guidance.

On the announment of Monsignor Marcus Stock appointment as new Bishop of Leeds, CES said:

"We are delighted to hear about Monsignor Marcus Stock's appointment as the new Bishop of Leeds. Mgr Marcus brought great expertise and was a supportive leader of Catholic education during his time as Assistant Director and Director of Schools in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, and as Acting Director of the Catholic Education Service. We wish Mgr Marcus all the best for his new post and we will keep him in our prayers."


Click here for full press release.

Press Release 8 September 2014

The Catholic Education Service is delighted to announce the launch of a new document, revised and approved by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, celebrating the important impact that Catholic education has on our communities.

The document, which was approved at the Bishops' Conference Plenary meeting in May, outlines the distinctive nature of Catholic education, which is currently responsible for almost 800,000 pupils in England and Wales.  It also explains the way in which Catholic schools work in partnership with the Government to provide outstanding academic standards, a diverse education and a cohesive and welcoming environment for all. 

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster said: I welcome this document which highlights the distinctive nature of Catholic education to make Christ known, to assist parents in their role as primary educators of their children and to be of service to society. The high demand for places at Catholic schools is testament to the high regard of parents for the distinctive nature of Catholic schools and also the high standards achieved. 

“I commend the staff, pupils and parents across all Catholic schools and offer my prayers for their continued endeavours.”

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP, Chairman of the CES, said: “Supporting the education of our young people is not just a responsibility for the Church, but also a privilege.  This new document outlines the fantastic contribution of Catholic education to our communities across England and Wales and I hope that it encourages people to celebrate and support the work of our Catholic schools and colleges.”     

The Catholic Church is responsible for 10% of the total maintained education sector in England and Wales.  It employs over 48,000 teachers and 38,000 education support staff.  

The document is available to download below.

Catholic Education in England and Wales

Monday, 08 September 2014 08:26

Jim Dobbin MP RIP

We are saddened and shocked to hear of the death of Jim Dobbin MP. Our thoughts and prayers are with Pat and all of Jim's family. Parliament will be a poorer place for his passing for Jim was a brave voice, respected on all sides of the House. In many ways he was the outstanding Catholic parliamentarian of his generation and we will greatly miss his commitment to social justice combined with his gentle sense of humour.

When I first arrived at Oxford University I was thrilled to discover that there was a Catholic church – the Oxford Oratory – less than two hundred metres away from my college. Even the small city of Oxford can seem dauntingly large to a new student, and so the Oratory quickly became the church which I regularly attended. I enjoyed many wonderful masses at the Oratory; however, I couldn't help feeling that there was a distinct lack of a student community there, which, as a local parish church isn't really that surprising.

As I began to explore Oxford further, I occasionally went to other college masses, and my interest in the University's Catholic Chaplaincy grew. I gradually started to attend weekly talks there, but some part of me always felt that I had left it too late to become involved with the community itself. When I started my Master's degree last year, I was thrown into an experience of Oxford which I had not anticipated – most of my friends had left the city and I no longer lived in college, meaning that my nearby haven of the Oratory suddenly seemed a lot more distant. As with many unexpected or difficult situations, this was a blessing in disguise as it opened my mind to the large number of other churches in Oxford which had previously been second in line to the local Oratory.

As a result of being one of a small group from my college who stayed on in Oxford, the start of my Master's year was rather lonely, and I felt compelled towards the Chaplaincy. My reluctance to become involved during my undergraduate degree for fears of it being "too late" were immediately assuaged as I felt a sense of openness and acceptance, and I felt that I had finally found the sort of student community for which I had been searching over the last three years. Here was a group of like-minded students who were experiencing similar daily life in Oxford, but who also understood my commitment to the Catholic faith and the important role it plays in one's life as a student. I quickly became involved in helping with the weekly CAFOD soup lunches and met many wonderful people. As I started going to the chaplaincy more often, I realized how much I appreciated my experiences of the Oratory, and I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to alternate between churches and communities during my last year in Oxford.

One of the greatest privileges about experiencing this city as a Catholic student was the huge choice of churches and masses which were right on my doorstep. During the past four years, and especially over the last nine months, I have had such a wonderful experience of the Catholic communities in this city; and, be it the Oratory, the Chaplaincy, or college masses, I have always felt supported and able to speak to people in times of need, or just as a friend.


Stephanie has just completed a Masters in Musicology at the University of Oxford

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