Every Catholic school in England and Wales has been invited to begin the forthcoming Year of Faith by having a week of prayer and service inspired by a young saint.

The joint initiative of the Bishops’ Department for Education and Formation, and also Evangelisation and Catechesis, is called ‘Little Way Week’ and is being run from 6 - 12 October. It aims to encourage everyone in the school community to pray and to serve one another and their local communities doing at least one activity, every day for a week. The initiative is inspired by the example and spiritual teaching of of St Thérèse of Lisieux, a French Carmelite nun who died when she was just 24 years old. Thérèse came to understand that everyone can grow in holiness and witness to God’s love by doing little things for love of Him and others every day.

Bishop Malcolm McMahon, Chair of the Department of Education and Formation of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said: “I am delighted to commend the ‘Little Way Week’ and I hope very much that all of our schools will use it as an opportunity to follow the example of St Thérèse of Lisieux in undertaking simple acts of loving witness. Following her ‘Little Way’ teaches us to do the ordinary things of life with extraordinary love. At the heart of this is our faith that Jesus is the power for love and goodness in our lives, and so the Little Way Week will provide the best possible start to our celebration of the Year of Faith in our schools and communities.”

Meanwhile Bishop Kieran Conry, Chair of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said: “Little Way Week is a wonderful initiative that the whole school community can participate in to witness to God’s love through service. Let us imitate St Thérèse as someone who found deep and lasting joy and happiness in doing little things for Jesus and those around her.”

The Week will coincide with the opening of the Year of Faith on 11 October which Pope Benedict XVI has initiated. The Year marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and also coincides with a gathering of bishops from across the world in Rome for a synod themed, ‘The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith’. One of the key emphases of the Year of Faith is to know better the Catholic Faith. Everyone is invited to participate in this year of celebration and mission, mindful that faith is not meant to be private, but professed and shared.

Free downloadable resources for schools include: lesson plans, teachers’ leaflets, scripture reflections, videos, assembly formats and there is also a national art competition being offered in partnership with Premier Christian Radio. The materials are available from: http://www.catholicnews.org.uk/little-way-week Information about the art competition is available from: http://www.premier.org.uk/littleway

The Week is being coordinated by the Bishops’ Conference Home Mission Desk, in partnership with the Catholic Education Service.

 

Today the Catholic Education Service (CES) welcomed the OFSTED review of Pupil Premiums as an opportunity for the Government to ensure disadvantaged children receive the additional support. 

Currently Pupil Premiums are calculated using the number of children receiving Free School Meals.  Annual census data from Catholic schools in England show that the number of children receiving Free School Meals does not reflect the proportion of children from deprived areas highlighted by the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI). 

IDACI data provided by the Department for Education highlights that despite a lower than average take-up of Free School Meals in Catholic schools, 19% of Catholic Pupil (compared with 14% nationally) come from the most deprived 10% of areas. Likewise the data shows that Catholic schools have consistently smaller proportions of pupils from least deprived areas.

The CES is keen to promote a pupil premium calculated from a number of indicators which take into consideration addition indicators including Free Schools Meals and IDACI. 

Greg Pope, Deputy Director of CES said “We support the government’s aim to ensure that funding for children from disadvantaged families is available to support them in their education.  This review provides the Department for Education with the opportunity to evaluate how Pupil Premiums are calculated to ensure that all children from disadvantaged backgrounds will receive this support. A basket of indicators is preferable as our evidence highlights that there are many children from deprived areas who, for whatever reason, do not take up Free School Meals.” 

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OFSTED’s review on Pupil Premiums can be found at www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/pupil-premium

Responding to Michael Gove’s education reforms, the Catholic Education Service (CES) has called for Religious Education (RE) to remain a priority in schools.

The reforms suggest that greater focus is required in ‘the core academic subjects of English, mathematics, sciences, history, geography and languages.’ The CES will continue to work with the Department for Education to ensure RE is not excluded from this new model, and that standards and rigour applied to examinations in core subjects will be extended to RE.

Father Tim Gardner OP, CES’s RE advisor said “RE lies at the heart of the curriculum in Catholic schools, and is an essential part of the curriculum in all schools. We will work with the Government and other faith groups to ensure that good quality RE remains a priority. We agree that the current RE GCSE requires reform to raise academic standards and the EBacc offers us the opportunity to ensure that RE is a rigorous and academic subject which stimulates and enriches children’s education. We will continue to promote RE as a core academic subject, which should take its rightful place among other humanities such as History and Geography.”

The Department for Education’s consultation on “Reforming Key Stage 4 Qualifications” offers the CES and other education stakeholders the opportunity to respond to the Government’s proposals.

Twenty new Catholic Voluntary Academies opened on 1 July 2012, bringing the total number of Catholic academies now open to 110.

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