Friday, 24 May 2024 10:00

Election 2024 - education

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:14-15

Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.

Proverbs 4:13

The political community has a duty to honour the family, to assist it, and to ensure especially: … the freedom to profess one’s faith, to hand it on, and raise one’s children in it, with the necessary means and institutions…

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2211

Background

As a religious community we value our partnership with successive governments in England and Wales in the provision of Catholic education. Its fruit is the more than 2,100 nurseries, schools, special schools, independent schools, colleges, and universities which make the Catholic Church the second-largest provider of education in the country, and with the biggest network of academies.

Catholic schools exist to support parents as the primary educators of their children and welcome anyone who seeks a Catholic education for their child. Rapidly expanded in the 19th century to meet the needs of the growing urban population, today Catholic schools make up 9% of the state-funded sector and are considerably more ethnically diverse than the national average. They take in more pupils from the poorest households and outperform state schools by up to seven percentage points at GCSE English, Mathematics and Religious Education.

The Catholic community provides a significant financial contribution to the government in rent-free provision of land and buildings for schools, and by contributing to capital costs saves taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds.

This 177 years of partnership with the State has resulted in a legal foundation which protects the core principles of Catholic education. Amongst these are the ability to give priority in admissions to Catholic children; the right of bishops to appoint a majority of school governors; the right to reserve senior leadership posts for Catholics; and the legal right to teach, inspect and set the curriculum for Religious Education in Catholic schools.

Catholic education is popular with parents and successful in preparing pupils for life in modern Britain. However, there are campaigns to get rid of schools with a religious character, and to change the curriculum so that our schools would no longer be Catholic.

Action

The sector is successful because of the hundreds of thousands of teachers, leaders, parents and volunteers but it still requires a Government to safeguard a Catholic approach:

  • The Government should support Catholic schools through policy and legislation which protects the legal foundations of this historic sector.
  • The Government should work closely with the Catholic sector to use best practice and ensure that the existing Catholic approach to governance, admissions, inspections, and the curriculum continues to flourish.
  • Whilst acknowledging the essential work of educational practitioners, the Government should recognise that parents are the first and primary educators of their children and ensure that this right permeates through all education policy.

What are your candidate’s views?

You may want to consider these questions when speaking to candidates seeking election.

  • Do they support the creation of new Catholic schools, including new Catholic Special Schools, through the removal of the cap on faith-based admissions?
  • Will they protect current admissions arrangements in Catholic schools?
  • Do they recognise the importance of Catholic leaders, teachers and governors in maintaining the Catholic school ethos?
  • What support will they give to raising the importance of Religious Education?
  • How will they safeguard parents’ rights as the primary educators including their right to withdraw their child from Relationships and Sex education and Religious Education?

Resources


Christ at the Centre – Why the Church Provides Catholic Schools


Catholic Education in England and Wales


Catholic Schools: Partners in Formation – Celebrating 175 Years of the Catholic Education Service


The Code of Canon Law: Catholic Education

“Catholic parents also have the duty and right of choosing those means and institutions through which they can provide more suitably for the Catholic education of their children, according to local circumstances.”

Code of Canon Law 1983, canon 793 §1

For further information on the election, please visit the Bishops' Conference website.

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