To all teachers, parents, support staff, governors and pupils in Catholic schools
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In what has been arguably one of the most challenging periods of time in a generation, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all who are working in Catholic education.
True to their vocation, the leaders, teachers and support staff in our Catholic schools and colleges have worked selflessly and outstandingly, often at great personal cost and with potential risks to themselves and their families. By keeping schools and colleges open for vulnerable pupils and children of key workers, providing home-learning resources, teaching lessons remotely, maintaining the spiritual and pastoral care of pupils, keeping in touch with families and so much more, our education workforce have rendered a great service both to the nation and to their communities in this time of need.
We should pay tribute also to the parents of pupils who, along with all of the day to day challenges they have had to face during this pandemic crisis, have exercised their role as the first educators of their children within their homes. Nevertheless, many parents are worried about the amount of school-time their children have missed and how this will impact on their development and their future.
We know too, that this crisis is disproportionately affecting the disadvantaged. Our Catholic schools have a special mission to care for the poorest and most vulnerable children and young people in society, and they have significantly more pupils from the most deprived backgrounds than other schools. It is critical therefore that every effort is made to enable more pupils to resume their education in school as soon as it is safe to do so.
Recently, the Government announced that it has commenced the very slow process of gradually lifting the restrictions which were implemented to protect the lives of all of our country’s citizens. To assist headteachers and governing bodies with their planning on how to re-admit more of their pupils back to the school premises once conditions allow, the Catholic Education Service has sought to work closely with the Government to ensure that proper support and clear information is given to dioceses, religious orders, multi-academy trusts and schools. Ultimately though, the safety, health and wellbeing of both pupils and staff must be our foremost priority.
Our society will have to live with the legacy of this crisis for many months and years to come but the fortitude and resolve demonstrated by our Catholic schools’ sector during this emergency has been extraordinary and is something of which we can be rightly proud.
As we face the challenges ahead of us, please do continue to pray for our schools and colleges, their leaders, teachers, parents and pupils.
With the assurance of my prayers and every blessing, I remain
Yours in the Lord
The Right Reverend Marcus Stock
Chairman of the Catholic Education Service
Bishop of Leeds
21st May 2020