CES News (116)
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
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."
Press Statement – 17 February 2015
Relationship & Sex Education (RSE) is essential for young people to learn about the nature of marriage, family life and relationships, taught in an age appropriate way. In Catholic schools RSE must be taught in the context of Church teaching and with the full consultation and involvement of parents.
The Catholic Education Service (CES) submitted written evidence to the Education Select Committee inquiry on PSHE and SRE and were called to give oral evidence. We are pleased that our comments are shown within many of the Committee’s recommendations.
We welcome the Committee’s support for the role of parents in RSE. This is shown in their recommendations that all schools should be required to run a regular consultation with parents on the school’s RSE provision and that the parental right to withdraw their child from elements of RSE should be retained.
We welcome the Committee’s emphasis on relationships within RSE. The CES will continue to highlight the importance of teaching RSE within a context which considers Church teaching, parents’ wishes and the culture of the community that the school serves. We believe in subsidiarity and that Governing Bodies should be able to decide what resources are most appropriate for the school.
We also welcome funding of continuous professional development for teachers and Ofsted’s oversight of the subject. We congratulate The John Henry Newman Catholic School, a secondary comprehensive school in Stevenage, as the best practice example used by the Committee to illustrate what outstanding RSE looks like.
Currently, Catholic schools, like all other schools in England, are required to produce a written policy following the guidance issued by the Department for Education on Sex and Relationship Education (SRE).
Education Select Committee’s Report can be found here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmeduc/145/14502.htm
A summary of the Education Selection Committee’s report can be found here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/education-committee/news/pshe-sre-report/
More information can be found on Ofsted’s website about The John Henry Newman Catholic School as providers of outstanding sex and relationships education in a Catholic context https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/outstanding-sex-and-relationships-education-in-a-catholic-context
Catholic schools make up 10% of the national total of maintained schools. There are 2156 Catholic schools in England educating 816,007 pupils and employing 47,986 teachers.
Press release – Tuesday 10 February 2015
The Catholic Education Service is providing schools and teachers with resources to use in the run up to the general election. The resources follow the theme of ‘Active Citizenship’.
The CES has produced a collection of resources for schools and teachers to use in order to encourage Catholics of school-age to take part in active citizenship. The resources are available to download from the CES website www.catholiceducation.org.uk and include: lesson resources on the political process, lesson resources on the Church and politics, theological resources on what the Church says about ‘active citizens’, saints and prayer cards, profiles of Catholics in public life, and useful links.
The director of the CES, Paul Barber, said, “These resources are an excellent way for schools and teachers to encourage active citizenship in their pupils from a young age. The range is age-appropriate and uses the Catechism of the Catholic Church to reflect the ways in which Catholic values assist and support the objectives of active citizenship.”
As the general election approaches, the work of the CES links to the call of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales for all Catholics "to think about the kind of society we want here at home and abroad." For Catholics over the age of 18 and eligible to vote this means to engage positively in the democratic process, but for Catholics of all ages this means to reflect on and act to ensure we are all active citizens.
The CES has received queries from schools wanting advice on whether they can allow pupils to take part in fundraising activities for Comic Relief and Red Nose Day. 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 Comic Relief. Please see below the response from Comic Relief on these matters.
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):
- To present engagingly a comprehensive content which is the basis of knowledge and understanding of the Catholic faith;
- To enable pupils continually to deepen their religious and theological understanding and be able to communicate this effectively;
- 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;
- To raise pupils’ awareness of the faith and traditions of other religious communities in order to respect and understand them;
- To develop the critical faculties of pupils so that they can relate their Catholic faith to daily life;
- To stimulate pupils’ imagination and provoke a desire for personal meaning as revealed in the truth of the Catholic faith;
- To enable pupils to relate the knowledge gained through Religious Education to their understanding of other subjects in the curriculum;
- 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."