School News (145)

Press Release- 25th April 2014

On Wednesday 2nd April Thornton College School for Girls hosted an inset training event for staff from all members of the Milton Keynes Liaison Group of Catholic Primary Schools.  

There were over one hundred attendees including Head Teachers, Religious Education coordinators and staff from six schools in the Milton Keynes area of the diocese including: St Bernadette's, St Thomas Aquinas, St Mary Magdalene's, St. Monica's and Bishop Parker.  The theme of the afternoon was 'Pass It On,' and the focus was on how to make bible stories relevant to everyday life.  

The event began with afternoon tea, a chance to catch up with old colleagues as well as making new acquaintances.  The group then went to the chapel where they had a prayerful reflection by Sister Mary James, the School Chaplain at Thornton, on the theme 'We are God's Instruments.'

This was followed by an inset training session by Matthew van Duyvenbode from the Bible Company and this time the theme was 'Pass It On'.  His talk was thought provoking and provided a great deal of insight which can now be used to make bible stories relevant to children in our RE lessons.  

Mrs Rose Darwin, Assistant Head and Junior School RE Coordinator at Thornton College said; 

"We were delighted to welcome staff from the schools in the Milton Keynes area of the diocese to Thornton College.  Colleagues were able to share ideas for assemblies and lessons and everyone commented on how helpful the afternoon has been."


For further information please contact: Kirsty Hassan 01280 812 610

Champion Irish dancing sisters Niamh and Roisin Redmond are looking forward to the challenge of their young lives when they take part in the Irish World Dancing Championships at the Hilton Metropole in London this weekend.

The Davyhulme duo who both attend St. Antony's Catholic College in Urmston will be among 3,000 competitors at the global event which starts on April 13th.

Both girls started dancing when they were just four years old and have won a host of regional and national awards.  Niamh has previously qualified as North-West irish dancing champion while Roisin has been runner up.  The world championships however, is Irish Dancing's blue ribbon event.  

Niamh, 15, said, "My aim is to get a recall for the final set dance and hopefully make it into the top twenty," while Roisin, 12, added, "If I could get into the top fifty I'd be pleased."

Both girls want to become Irish dancing teachers and work in the growing number of touring worldwide productions pioneered by the legendary Michael Flatley.

Mum Bev, who works at St. Antony's, said: "This is Irish Dancing's showcase and anyone who is anyone will be there, including Michael Flatley, who will officially open the event."

Bev added, "The girls have never competed against each other because they are in different age groups but have always been very supportive of each other, and for us its a family affair.  All six of us will be going down to London and looking forward to a great few days."

The girls, who both train at the Morgan School of Irish Dancing in Manchester, complete up to five training sessions per week.  With all that training in technique and endurance under their belts, the girls are confident but not complacent ahead of the event.  

Niamh said, "We have trained and trained and have the necessarry technique and stamina, but it's all about getting it right on the day."

St. Antony's Catholic College Headteacher fiona Wright has said: "The girls have performed at a number of school events and always mesmerise the audience with their flawless routines.  Everyone in the school community will be cheering them on."



Press Release - April 2014

This week the SSAT announced that The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School (CVMS) in London's Holland Park has been awarded with two SSAT Educational Outcomes Awards. The prestigious school is one of the highest achieving state comprehensives in the country and this latest recognition proves the school's success and commitment to improving student results at every level.

In 1914 the school opened its doors as a national memorial to Cardinal Vaughan who was appointed as the third Archbishop of Westminster by Pope Leo XIII in 1892.  Since then, CVMS has continued to grow from strength to strength with its Catholic ethos and sound Catholic teaching preparing its pupils to meet their responsibilities as Catholics in society.

The school was identified for the SSAT awards by the significant added-value its teaching offers to pupils' education.  In-depth analysis of official Department for Education data was conducted on all state-funded schools in England, with CVMS scoring in the top 20% of national schools for progress made by pupils between their key stage 2 results at primary school and their performance at GCSE.  Headmaster, Mr P Stubbings, said:

"I'm delighted: coming top of national tables is always nice, but what is so pleasing about this particular award is that it recognises the hard work of the teaching staff to make sure that our pupils make the best of themselves, whatever their starting point.  We never rest on our laurels, but are always seeking to improve- and that goes for the pupils, too."   

The school has been invited to receive their award at a regional celebration ceremony hosted by SSAT at The St Marylebone CE school in London on 6th May.

The Chief Executive of SSAT, Sue Williamson, said:

"The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial RC School should be congratulated for their exceptional achievement.  They have proved themselves to be leading the field in improving GCSE outcomes for their students.  There is so much good practice that this school could share, and I hope many schools will join us at the celebration ceremony for the chance to network and share strategies with award-winning schools."

"These results are testament to the commitment and hard work of the students, teachers and leadership team at the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial RC School, and show what can be achieved when skilled teachers have high expectations and ambition for every young person.  I am proud that this school is a member of the SSAT network."

Tuesday, 08 April 2014 09:38

A Fantastic DASH for Saint Paul's

March 2014- Press Release

Staff and pupils from St. Paul's Catholic High School in Wythenshawe took part in the first DASH (Diocesan Association of Secondary Headteachers) and Mini DASH meeting to be held at St. Paul's.

17 Headteachers and 80 pupils from the Diocese of Shrewsbury secondary schools attended the event.  This was the largest gathering of pupils since Mini DASH first started.

The event is organised by the Diocese of Shrewsbury with the aim of getting together pupils from a number of schools to share ideas and work on ideas for future collaboration.

Visiting headteachers and pupils were welcomed by the school's prefects and then the day started with breakfast.  Following this, the pupils completed some ice breaker activities enabling the pupils from the different schools to get to know one another.  

Pupils then looked at the words of Pope Francis and Bishop Mark Davies on the meaning of Lent and its great importance to Christians leading up to Holy Week and Easter.  

Each group was given a Station of the Cross to focus on and was asked to select some contemporary pictures that reflected the suffering of people in the modern world.  A prayer was then written by each group that related each station to the problems of today.

The Headteachers then joined the pupils who led all present in a very thoughtful and moving reflection.  The Headteachers were delighted to see the amazing collaborative work that had been carried out by pupils in such a short time.  Other staff present thought that a very meaningful and prayerful atmosphere had been created and it was apleasure to be a part of it.  

Mrs Lisa Baille, Assistant Headteacher and Head of RE at Saint Paul's, explained: "The pupils shared and discussed a wide variety of ideas and suggestions and were encouraged to take the ideas back to their own schools, passing them on and developing them.  All involved thoroughly enjoyed the day which culminated with all the pupils being presented with goodie bags containing items such as a prayer book and prayer card of St. Paul.  Many new friendships were made with pupils promising to remain in touch with each other."

"I was very proud of our pupils who were excellent ambassadors for the school and several people commented that the pupils who represented Saint Paul's were outstanding representatives and a credit to us," added Mrs Baillie.  

"It's important to meet as a Diocese, because, whilst all the people who met together are very different, we all have one thing in common: our faith.  The mini DASH is also a good chance to build up leadership skills, as the pupils in Mini DASH helped to plan the event," said MRS Fiona Minshall, Head Teacher at Saint Paul's.

"It was an excellent opportunity for the pupils to mix with pupils from different schools to get together and share their thoughts."

Press Release- 7th April 2014 

In the presence of his Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Friday 28th March saw the official launch of the 'The History of St Edmund's College' written by Father Nicholas Schofield, Diocesan archivist and parish priest at Our Lady of Lourdes and St Michael, Uxbridge.

St Edmund's College is England's oldest Catholic school and both the Archbishop and Father Schofield spoke movingly about the rich history of this special institution, so key to the preservation of the thriving Catholic faith in England.

The book traces the fascinating journey from the College's 16th Century roots in Northern France and Hampshire to the flourishing community which exists today thanks to the efforts of such luminaries as Cardinal William Allen and the Douay Martyrs, Challoner, Stapleton, Talbot, Poynter, Douglass, Ward, Bourne, Knox and many, many others.

Paulo Durán, Headmaster, said, "This is the first step in what is a special phase for the College as we move towards our 450th anniversary in 2018. I am incredibly grateful for all the work that has been done by so many to produce such a fine book, particularly Father Schofield and David Kay, Old Edmundian and President Emeritus of the Edmundian Association'.

The book is for sale via or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


For further information contact: 

Melanie Burke This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Saint Paul's Catholic High School in Wythenshawe. together with UHSM (University Hospital South Manchester), joined local authorities, community groups and charities throughout the UK to mark Commonwealth Day. The school choir and Head Boy, George McIlroy, and Head Girl, Mary Jayne Chadwick, joined in the celebration event which was held to show appreciation of the values of the Commonwealth and the opportunities offered to its citizens around the world.

UHSM was the only hospital in the UK invited to fly a Commonwealth flag because of its links with a hospital in Uganda.

Outside Wythenshawe Hospital's main entrance, UHSM staff and Members of the Trust Board observed George and Mary Jayne raise the Commonwealth flag, and were serenaded by the school's choir. There was also a Commonwealth Affirmation and a message from Her Majesty The Queen.

"The children showed a great deal of maturity and their behaviour was excellent throughout the morning. We all enjoyed the songs they sang, and of course, the head boy and head girl raising the flag up the pole; it made for a memorable event, "commented Mr Paul Thorpe, Deputy Head of Communications at UHSM.

"Commonwealth Day is an opportunity to promote understanding on global issues, international co-operation and the work of the Commonwealth's organisations, which aim to improve the lives of its citizens," explained Mrs Fiona Minshall, Head Teacher at Saint Paul's. "We hoped that through our involvement with the celebrations we would be able to give our pupils the opportunity to celebrate the unity, diversity and linkages of the modern Commonwealth and foster greater understanding of the Commonwealth's achievements and role."

Tuesday, 25 March 2014 14:11

Saint Paul’s Pupil Sings at Twickenham!

Saint Paul's pupil, Ben Gill, was delighted to have been selected to perform the National Anthem alongside Laura Wright, England Rugby's official anthem singer at the RBS 6 Nations clash. Ben, who is in Year 10 at Saint Paul's Catholic High School in Wythenshawe joined pupils from other secondary schools to sing in front of a crowd of 82,000 fans as the England and Welsh teams lined up on Twickenham's hallowed turf.

Ben had been selected to represent the school as he was instrumental in starting off the Saint Paul's after-school Rugby club as the school joined the Rugby Football Union's All Schools programme.

The pyrotechnics at the ground illuminated his distinctive rugby shirt which he, and other Saint Paul's pupils, designed at a Canterbury kit design workshop. Canterbury, the official kit supplier to England Rugby, runs the workshops for each school to get pupils interested in, and actively involved in, rugby for their school. They use their school colours, emblems and mottos to inspire their drawings, before the kit manufacturer produces the final shirts that are worn with pride by the school's new rugby team.

England Head Coach, Stuart Lancaster, said: "The anthem is a powerful force of unity and on a match day is crucial in building support from the crowd to get behind the team before kick-off. Having created a shirt myself at one of the Canterbury workshops, where the students were also learning about the game's core values, I'm looking forward to seeing the huge variety of designs on show on Sunday."

Ms Laura Wild, Head of PE at Saint Paul's explained: "Whilst designing their shirts, the pupils were able to learn about the core values of rugby, the pride associated with the shirt and the importance of colours, logos and emblems."

"The Rugby Football Union's All Schools, which has Prince Harry as its Patron, is a fantastic programme which we are proud to support," added Ms Wild.

Mrs Fiona Minshall, Head Teacher at Saint Paul's commented: "There was an amazing atmosphere at Twickenham and we were proud for our school to have been involved. It was fantastic to see the newly designed shirts make their debut at such a prestigious venue and event."

"The staff at Saint Paul's have a passion for rugby and would like to use this to help build the skills, confidence and aspirations of the pupils. We now look forward to seeing them in action in their new shirts on the rugby pitch!" added Mrs Minshall.

For more information please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

For immediate release – 24 March 2014


Newman University continues its celebration of full university title with the installation of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor as its first Chancellor. As formal head of the University, he will take on a largely ceremonial role, carrying out ambassadorial and representative duties.

Commenting on his appointment, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said: "It is a great honour for me to be invited to become the first Chancellor of Newman University. In accepting, I am conscious of the admiration and devotion of so many people to the university Patron, Blessed John Henry Newman and I look forward to working with the University."

Addressing the congregation, the Cardinal continued: "To Newman, the university was about more than just qualifications, it was for a gentleman and gentlewoman to have "eyes on all (his/her) company; (to be) tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd; (s/he) can recollect to whom he is speaking; guards against unseasonable allusions, or topics which may irritate; s/he is seldom prominent in conversation, and never wearisome."*

"In other words, a university education's primary objective is to shape the whole person; to cultivate the virtues and to leave an indelible mark on the mind and soul. I know that this is what Newman University does - it prides itself on developing the whole person and prepares you for life after graduation – and I pray that it will leave a mark on your soul and get you ready to have "eyes on all (your) company" when you leave the shores of this campus to pursue whatever your definite purpose in life may be."

Archbishop Bernard Longley, led the opening prayer and Archbishop Kevin McDonald preached the homily at the Mass of Celebration and Installation.

In his homily, Archbishop McDonald, Chair of the Bishops' Conference Committee for Other Faiths and of the Committee for Catholic-Jewish Relations, drew attention to the fact that Newman University is a popular choice for young people of other religions:
"Newman University is a Catholic foundation but one which welcomes students who belong to other Christian Communions, other faiths and people without religious affiliation. What I find both interesting and encouraging is that Newman University is, I understand, a popular choice for young people of other religions. I would like to think that part of the reason for that is the outreach and openness to other religions that has developed within the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate, the 50th anniversary of which we celebrate next year."

And concluded by affirming the University in its choice of Chancellor: "Cardinal Murphy O' Connor is someone who over many years has sought to inspire people and communities to grasp opportunities and to have a vision for the future. He is the right person to be Chancellor of Newman University. With the election of Pope Francis, it seems to me that the Catholic Church is finding its bearings and finding new confidence in its role in the world."

* Taken from Cardinal Newman's 'The Idea of a University'

Photos from the Mass of Celebration and Installation of Chancellor



Full homily – Archbishop Kevin McDonald
Homily for the installation of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor as first Chancellor of Newman University in Birmingham
20th of March 2014

I would like to begin, if I may, by congratulating everyone at Newman University on the fact that this institution has now become a University in its own right. I likewise congratulate Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor on being appointed its first Chancellor. As someone who was originally a priest of the diocese of Birmingham and who has visited Newman many times for many reasons I recognise that this is a particularly welcome and auspicious development.

While I was pondering how to address this new situation and, indeed, how to address this congregation, my mind returned to two occasions on which I have visited the city in recent years. One was the last occasion on which I addressed a University assembly. It was during the summer of 2005 when my own University, the University of Birmingham, was kind enough to award me an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity. That was a rather special experience for a bishop - an opportunity to address faculty, students and their families in a secular institution and offer words of encouragement and challenge to people of many faiths and none from a Christian and Catholic perspective.

Today is different. Newman University is a Catholic foundation but one which welcomes students who belong to other Christian Communions, other faiths and people without religious affiliation. What I find both interesting and encouraging is that Newman University is, I understand, a popular choice for young people of other religions. I would like to think that part of the reason for that is the outreach and openness to other religions that has developed within the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate, the 50th anniversary of which we celebrate next year.

Relationships between religions have changed significantly in recent decades. When I was parish priest of English Martyrs in Sparkhill, the number of Muslim children in our school increased dramatically. Sometimes people would ask me: don't the Muslim parents object to having their children attend Christian prayers and RE lessons. I was happy to reply that, on the contrary, they were only too happy for their children to be taught in an environment of faith.

I would like to think that something analogous to that would characterise the ethos of Newman University. The future of our society and indeed of peace in our world depend crucially on the development of a culture of peace between religions. Pope John Paul's invitation to members of other religions to bear witness to peace with him in Assisi in 1986 continues to be an icon of the role and responsibility of the Catholic Church in facilitating understanding between the different religions present in our cities and in our increasingly globalised world.

I mentioned another occasion on which I came back to Birmingham and that was for the visit of Pope Benedict when he beatified Cardinal John Henry Newman and visited Oscott College. Cardinal Newman wrote a famous meditation which I think it is fitting to recall and apply today in this University which is named after him.

This is part of it:

God has created me to do him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission - I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught, I shall do good, I shall do his work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place while not intending it - if I do but keep his commandments.

There is, of course a message for each one of us in those words, but applying it to today's occasion, I want to say that any school or university should be a place where everyone matters and where people are able to identify and to develop their own particular gifts. It should also be a place in which people come to understand more fully that they have a role and a responsibility in the society in which they will live when they leave. Receiving a University education is a privilege but what is received in a University is not just received for one's own benefit. Rather it should shape and make possible the particular and unique contribution that each person has to make to the Common Good. And here in this University I can invoke Blessed John Henry Newman to say quite explicitly that each of us has a vocation within God's purposes and the more clearly we identify it the more we will fulfill it. In particular, that passage is a good antidote to what I would call the culture of choice. By that I mean the attitude of mind that focuses primarly, on my choices on what I want. We are called to be more than that.

The Word of God which we have heard gives indications and admonitions for today's occasion which may well be uncomfortable but are all the more urgent for precisely that reason. Each of the three readings questions us in turn about personal integrity, about prayer, and about faith. We all needed to hear them.

The second reading from St Paul's letter to Timothy interrogates us at this moment when we meet to pray in this chapel. It says "In every place, then, I want people to lift their hands up reverently in prayer, with no anger or argument." If this chapel situated as it is in the heart of this University were to be genuinely a place of prayer, that I think would significantly enhance the case for its being a separate and distinctive institution. If people of different religious backgrounds were to see this institution as one in which freedom to cultivate a life of prayer was fostered then it would certainly be special. People say we live in a very secular environment. I'm not sure that's true. But I do think that many people don't know how to pray even though many of them want to, they are not sure what it is.

The gospel tells us that no man can serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and money. The ambition to pursue a career simply in order to make yourself rich is not a choice for life. A decision to use your gifts to serve God, humanity and our environment is precisely a choice for life.

Birmingham is a vibrant city with great potential in all sorts of ways and not least spiritual potential. We should not listen too much to the siren voices that tell us that young people are not interested in faith or religion. Recently I was staying in a community in Austria where I met many young people from Central Europe with real passion for Jesus Christ but that was because there was someone to enthuse and inspire them. People just need to be inspired and to be led. What the future will bring to Newman University I do not know but I would encourage you to dream dreams and to look for vision and I am quite sure that there are people here who can nourish and inspire.

Cardinal Murphy O' Connor is someone who over many years has sought to inspire people and communities to grasp opportunities and to have a vision for the future. He is the right person to be Chancellor of Newman University. With the election of Pope Francis, it seems to me that the Catholic Church is finding its bearings and finding new confidence in its role in the world. That role and that profile is changing and developing not least because these have been times of purification and painful growth. There is a phrase from the Second Vatican Council that points to that development, where it says that the Church is as a "sacrament or instrumental sign of intimate union with God and of unity for the whole human race."

The Church is not here to impose itself on people but to be a sign and a witness to what human community is all about. We are here for everyone. The Church needs to be a place of freedom, of justice, and of worship. It seems to me the Newman University can be very much at home in that Church and will have a vital contribution to make to it. Everyone here today will join me in wishing every blessing to the new Chancellor, the Chair of Council, the Vice-Chancellor and all who work and teach and study here.

Elliot Heald, a 10-year old from St Elizabeth's RC Primary School, Wythenshawe, has beaten over 6,000 budding young designers from across the country to win a nationwide sock design competition.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first Fairtrade products sold in the UK, the Catholic aid agency CAFOD – a founding member of the Fairtrade Foundation – teamed up with SockShop to launch the special competition for 7-11 year olds to design an exclusive Fairtrade-themed sock.

Designs were submitted by more than 6,000 pupils from a staggering 142 schools, but Elliot, a Key Stage 2 pupil, was selected as the winner thanks to his beautifully creative design, and understanding of Fairtrade. The panel of judges impressed by Elliot's design included award-winning actress Jo Joyner, formerly Tanya Branning on Eastenders, and a senior designer from SockShop. As a prize, Elliot will receive a £100 voucher to spend at SockShop and will see his design made into a limited edition sock which will be sold on the SockShop website.

On finding out that he had won the competition, Elliot said:

"We learned about Fairtrade in school and I really enjoyed it because it's interesting to see how you can help other people. When I was designing my sock, I remembered that Fairtrade is about paying people a fair wage for things that they produce. It's about making people happy. So that's why I designed a sock with a smiley face made out of fruit.

"I can't believe that I won the competition. It really is amazing and I'm so excited that my design has been made into a sock and is being sold by SockShop. There are no words to describe the feeling!"

Jo Joyner said:

"I know it's a cliché but it truly was so difficult to choose the 10 finalists and then even harder to choose a winner. There was so much thought, time and creativity that had gone into the designs. Some of the slogans were worthy of a top ad agency! Most impressive was the fact that all the children seemed to have grasped completely the concept of fair trade.

"Elliot's design impressed the judges because it said so much in such a simple way. The smiling face out of the fruit demonstrating the happiness that fair trade brings. Crucially, in terms of a design, the colours, the fact that the design is on the ankle of the sock and the sense of humour displayed made Elliot's a really wearable sock. Congratulations!"

CAFOD Schools Programme Team Leader, Monica Conmee, said

"We are absolutely thrilled at the number of schools and individuals who entered the competition from all over the country. It's clear that the children have loved learning about the important issues surrounding Fairtrade in an interactive and creative way, whilst taking part in a unique competition. This has been the perfect way to celebrate 20 years of Fairtrade products in the UK."

CAFOD works with children, young people and young adults in England and Wales to deepen an understanding of the causes of global poverty and injustice, and offers ways to take action to bring about a just and sustainable world.

Visit to view the designs from all the runners up and the competition winner.

For more information please contact Ellie Wilcock at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / on 020 7095 5451 or 07540 265 715

Year 6 pupils at St Benedict's Catholic Primary school in Atherstone are celebrating the completion of their new classroom in a new block exclusively for the school's oldest pupils.

Following on from being re-confirmed by OFSTED as a "Good" school and achieving excellent SATs results, the school has looked to increase the number of pupils it can accept each year. But there simply wasn't enough space to do this and provide much needed before and after school care as well.

In November 2013 Warwickshire County Council endorsed the school's plans for the future and allocated £165,000 to fund the new facility. Only one other school in Warwickshire was awarded funding at the time.

School head teacher Mrs Susan Shannon said; "This new classroom in its own block gives our Year 6 pupils a little independence and a taster of life at secondary school. We have decorated to look more 'grown up' and the children have new state of the art white board, air conditioning and wifi."

She continued: "I am delighted that Warwickshire County Council has considered our school to be a priority for spending at a time when funding is tight and take this as a great vote of confidence in our ability to provide a fantastic education for children from Atherstone and the surrounding villages."

To mark the official opening of the Year 6 block the building was blessed by Fr Michael Miners at a ceremony attended by pupils, parents and a number of invited guests from, local schools, the Local Authority, City Sites who built the room and the Diocese.

For further information please contact:

Mrs Susan Shannon, Head Teacher – 01827 712320


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