CES News (129)
We welcome the announcement today by the Secretary of State for Education concerning the reform of qualifications at 16. It is clear that the government’s own consultation regarding examination reform showed broad consensus, accepting the need for reform yet rejecting the initial proposals for that reform. That the Secretary of State proposes to reform exams ‘with the help of school and university leaders’ is particularly welcome. Working closely with education professionals will help ensure that any reform will enjoy the widest possible support and confidence.
We are, however, disappointed that Religious Education remains effectively relegated to outside the ‘core’ under these proposals when it is at the very heart of the curriculum in every one of our more than 2000 schools in England. GCSE RE is a valuable and worthwhile subject, but it could be better, and we hope to be able to work with Ofqual and Examination Boards to ensure that it becomes so.
It remains to be seen, of course, how examination reform will now proceed. We are therefore unable to comment further until the detail becomes clear.
Further information of the reforms can be found on the Department for Education’s website (www.education.gov.uk)
For 2013 Future Leaders are looking to recruit 75 secondary Future Leaders from our six regions as well as 25 primary Future Leaders from London for the first time. The Future Leaders programme is for current, qualified teachers, who have the talent and commitment to become headteachers of challenging schools in an accelerated time frame (four years secondary, two years primary). Successful applicants to the programme receive 17 days of residential facilitated training, bespoke career support as they progress to headship, on-going coaching from an experienced headteacher, regular training opportunities, an online social network providing tailored support and best practice and visits to exemplary schools across England. This programme gives participants the skills and resources to lead schools that improve the life chances of children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Applications are open until 19th February for secondary and 19th March for primary. To apply, or for more information visit the Future Leaders website or call 0800 009 4142
The Catholic Education Service along with Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) is supporting Safer Internet Day 2013 (SID2013) on the 5th February.
Safer Internet Day aims to raise awareness of the importance of online safety and the rights and responsibility that come with engaging with online content. For more information please see the SID website.
Education Sunday this year falls on Sunday 27th January and offers an opportunity for schools and parishes to work together to promote Catholic education in their community.
The relationship between parish and Catholic school has been central in preserving the Catholic ethos of the education. Following the re-establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in 1850 the building of schools was often prioritised over the building of Churches, a clear indication of the Church’s commitment to education and its role in the formation and development of the whole person. These schools were often used as the main place of worship with the whole Catholic community gathering together to support each other.
There remain many opportunities throughout the year for schools and parishes to come together to celebrate the faith and ensure the longevity and strength of Catholic education, but Education Sunday shines a spotlight on schools.
This is an opportunity, first of all, for parishioners to give financial, spiritual, practical and political support to our Catholic schools. There is a collection for Catholic education on the Sunday, and worship resources including homily notes and prayers are available from www.educationsunday.org.
But Education Sunday is also an opportunity for schools, their staff and pupils, to share their work, learning and experiences of Catholic education with parishes.
There are many other ways in which all Catholics can get involved in Catholic education from supporting school fundraising events to becoming a school governor.
In the ever changing education agenda, there is often need for parish support at a local political level. School transport remains a key issue in many areas with local authorities cutting provision, a move that disproportionately affects Catholic schools which have larger than average catchment areas. To find out more about home to school transport and how you can campaign in your local areas see www.catholiceducation.org.uk/index.php/campaigns/transport-toolkit
Free Schools Meals is another policy area which especially affects Catholic schools given our primary concern for the poor. The annual census data collected from all Catholic schools in England and Wales show that 20% of pupils at Catholic secondary schools in England live in the most deprived areas compared with 17% nationally. Free school meals are available to children from the lowest income families. They provide a hot meal at lunch which is important in providing both health and education benefits to the child and reducing financial burdens on the child’s family.
The CES remains concerned about the low take-up of Free School Meals in Catholic schools. Research from The Children Society show that of 1.5 million children in England who meet the eligibility criteria for Free School Meals, around 200,000 are not registered, and of those registered, a further 300,000 do not eat the meal. In addition to the health, educational and financial benefits to the child and their families, this also had a direct impact on the schools themselves. Changes in funding arrangements also mean that schools receive addition funding (£500 per pupil) based upon the number of children receiving Free School Meals.
The CES will be running a campaign this year to increase the take up of Free School Meals in Catholic schools and will be encouraging schools, parents and parishioners to spread the word on the role that Free School Meals have in ensuring the healthy development of children. Full details on how to claim Free School Meals and who is eligible can be found at www.catholiceducation.org.uk/campaigns/free-school-meals.
The CES together with CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network) are also supporting The Children Society’s Fair and Square campaign, who are petitioning the government for all children living in poverty to receive Free School Meals. To find out more about the campaign see www.childrenssociety.org.uk/fairandsquare.
Education Sunday also remains an opportunity to thanks those in parishes and staff in schools whose work ensure high standards of Catholic Education we have in schools today.
STATEMENT FROM ASSOCIATION OF CHURCH COLLEGE TRUSTS ON SUPPORT FOR TRAINING TO TEACH RE IN 2013
Training to teach Religious Education in 2013:
Candidates can train to teach Religious Education (RE) through a PGCE course in 28 universities in England, 2 in Wales and 2 in Scotland. Although the government no longer provides a bursary for RE, there are other sources of support. For 2013-14, trainees in secondary RE could be eligible to apply to one of the Church College Trusts for a grant towards course expenses or living expenses. Candidates can check www.cstg.org.uk/acct for details of the trusts and foundations to which they can apply.
Educating children and young people with a sound understanding of Church teaching on relationships, sexual morality, love, marriage and family life remains one of the most challenging issues for any Catholic school. Problems arise: How we do we speak to children in their own language and culture but avoid reinforcing it? Beyond the rules and regulations, what exactly is the Church teaching? How am I supposed to teach it if my own life and values don’t live up to the ideal?
It was within this environment six years ago that Ten Ten Theatre – an award-winning Catholic theatre company – began devising, writing and producing a programme of Catholic Sex and Relationship Education which has now been established in hundreds of primary schools, secondary schools and parishes throughout the UK.
We take our inspiration from Blessed John Paul II’s teaching known as The Theology of the Body. It has been our task over the last few years to identify some of the core values of the teaching and write accessible, contemporary stories to explore these ideas. Karol Wojtyla himself was a keen actor and dramatist who believed passionately in the power of story and character to examine the human person. At Ten Ten we aim to do the same, encouraging our children and young people to reflect on their own lives and experiences in order to understand more deeply their Call to Love.
So, for example, the play “Chased” for the 13-14 age group follows the story of Scott and Carly who are so confused by the world they inhabit – pressure from friends, influence of the media, physical development – that they almost lose sight of their core dignity. And yet through the story they begin to understand the deepest longings of the heart: to be honourable, to be cherished, to be loved and to love as Christ loves. By taking the characters on this journey, and following it up with discussion, sharing, reflection and prayer, the young people understand what it means to be “in” the world but not “of” the world.
What about primary school children? How can we promote these values without corrupting children with sexual imagery and inappropriate information?
One example is “The Gift”, a lovely play for 7-9 year-olds. It tells the story of twins Harry and Kate who learn about the preciousness of gifts: Kate’s treasured musical box, given to her by her Auntie who passed away, is accidentally smashed to pieces by Harry. Harry doesn’t understand why Kate is so upset. “After all,” he says, “you can get another one from the pound shop… for a pound!” Through the story, both Harry and Kate (and the children watching) learn about the true value of gifts, what it means to make a gift of yourself and the importance of forgiveness. These are precisely the same values we promote through the play “Chased” but at an age-appropriate level.
In the follow-up workshop to “The Gift”, the actors ask the children to think more deeply about the best gift they have ever been given, who gave it to them and why is it so special. Sometimes the responses are material: Playstations and puppies are always very popular. Other responses tell of something deeper: my life or my baby brother. However, a few weeks ago at a school in Merseyside, one particular response really touched us.
“What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?” we asked.
“My mum,” said the boy.
“And why is she so special?”
“Because she adopted me and without her I wouldn't have been brought up happy,” said the boy.
The boy’s mother, in fact, also taught at the school. Later that day, when she was told what her adopted son had said, she crumbled into tears.
I can understand why. This woman has likely given her entire life as a gift to the boy, making a decision to love him, protect him and care for him with all of her heart. Surely this is one of the greatest gifts that a person could choose to give. And yet it is a gift that people throughout the world make moment after moment, day after day. Now, as a result of the visit of Ten Ten, this particular mother knew that her seven-year-old adopted son valued and appreciated the great sacrifice she has made.
Mr Paul Barber, currently the Director of Education for the Diocese of Westminster has been appointed as the new Director of the Catholic Education Service.
Commenting on the appointment, Bishop Malcolm McMahon, Chairman of the Bishops’ Conference Department for Education and Formation, and the Chair of the Catholic Education Service, said: ‘I am delighted that Paul Barber has accepted the appointment of Director of the Catholic Education Service. He will bring to the post his considerable experience and a proven track record of commitment to the furtherance of the Church’s vision for Catholic education.’
Mr Barber will take over after Easter 2013 from Monsignor Marcus Stock who has been the Acting‐Director of the Catholic Education Service since November 2011.
Paul Barber MA (Cantab), MA (Canon Law), JCL
Paul Barber is the Director of Education for the Diocese of Westminster, a post he has held since 2003.
Paul read Law at Jesus College, Cambridge, won an Exhibition to the Middle Temple and was called to the Bar in 1992. He taught law at Sussex University, King’s College, London and Westminster University, where he was also a Visiting Fellow. He has studied canon law at Cardiff, Heythrop College (MA with distinction) and Louvain (JCL summa cum laude) where he is currently undertaking a doctorate on temporal goods in the Church in England and Wales.
Paul served as the national Legal Officer for the Catholic Education Service for five years before moving to the Diocese of Westminster. He is a committee member both of the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland and the Ecclesiastical Law Society, and a member of the Editorial Board of the Christian Law Review “Law and Justice”. He is frequently involved in legislation policy at national and European level, and is a member of the Legal Affairs Commission of the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union. His current research interests include the canon law of education, jurisdiction and comparative canon law.
Each year the Catholic Education Service conducts a Census of every Catholic school and college in England and Wales. The data collected includes Catholicity and ethnicity of staff and pupils, staff qualifications, take-up of free school meals and data on RE teaching. In 2012 the response rate was nearly 98%, including both maintained and independent schools.
The majority of schools complete the Census using SIMS, a Management Information System (MIS). SIMS answers 80% of the Census questions automatically and therefore ensures a high degree of accuracy. Schools that do not use SIMS complete an Excel spreadsheet. The completed Census returns are processed by the CES who produce spreadsheet reports and raw data that are used by the CES the diocesan education offices.
In 2007, in response to requests that the CES Census data be made more widely available, the first Digest of Census Data for Catholic Schools and Colleges was published. The digest contains most of the summary data that is sent to the dioceses, presented in tables and graphs. However, it goes much further, by providing comparisons with national data and also by including additional data not included in the Census, specifically graphs representing information from the Income Deprivation Affecting Children (IDACI) index. It is now possible to identify trends in the data since 2007 and each year the digest includes comparisons with figures from previous years.
In addition to the digest, the CES also produces a Key Facts card the size of a bookmark. This is popular with some politicians and journalists who need access to recent figures on Catholic education in an overview format. The 2012 Key Facts card shows that, on the 2012 Census day there were 2166 Catholic schools in England, educating 808,207 pupils and employing 45,607 teachers. The CES Census data, when supplemented with other, value-added data, shows the quality of education that Catholic pupils are receiving. For example, 75% of English Catholic primary schools have Ofsted grades of good or outstanding, compared with 64% nationally. At GCSE, Catholic schools outperform the national average English and Maths SATs scores by 6%.
The Census gives the CES the authority to work with the Department for Education and Catholic MPs, Peers and Welsh Assembly members, Unions and other organisations with vested interest in Catholic schools and colleges. For example, to be able to quote figures from the 2012 Census which state that 34% of pupils in English Catholic maintained schools are from ethnic minority backgrounds, compared to 28% nationally, helps to argue against the charge that Catholic schools are ethnically selective.
Despite the evidence of the data, it is sometimes unwise to quote the results without looking at the broader picture. For instance, figures for take-up of free school meals suggest that there are fewer pupils in Catholic schools who are in receipt of free school meals than there are in all schools nationally (free school meals are available to children from parents who are working under 16 hours a week or are earning less than £16,190 a year). However, there is evidence to suggest that, although they are entitled to free school meals, some ethnic groups with a large representation in Catholic schools, are unwilling to take up their entitlement. The CES is looking to conduct further research using IDACI data to obtain an accurate measure of hardship in Catholic schools.
Over the past three years there has been a very gradual decline in the percentage of Catholic pupils in Catholic schools, particularly in secondary schools. Again, the reasons cannot be taken at face value and require further analysis. The rising pupil population in Catholic schools show that the quality of teaching and results in Catholic schools are attracting larger number of pupils from a range of faith and non-faith backgrounds, with raw figures of numbers of Catholic pupils remaining relatively constant. However, this statistic will require constant monitoring in future Census analysis as the CES remains concerned over the withdrawal of free school transport by many local authorities and the financial implications for many Catholic parents who wish to send their children to Catholic schools.
Whatever interpretations may be put on the Census data, the key facts speak for themselves: more children are being educated in Catholic schools and are achieving results that compete with the best schools nationally.
The 2012 Census digest will be available on the CES website (catholiceducation.org.uk).
Robert Rushworth is the Data Manager and Census Coordinator for the Catholic Education Service
Sharing Sunday’s Gospel
The Wednesday Word is a 21st Century mission for Catholic primary schools, and a simple mid-week habit of prayer and reflection on the Word of God for parishioners and Catholic school families. Linked to the celebration of Sunday Mass, this is a new way to share the Gospel and the teaching of the Catholic Church, rooting the partnership between home, school and parish in the Word of God.
THERE ARE TWO VERSIONS OF THE WEDNESDAY WORD LEAFLET:
The Primary School version and the Parish version.
In support of the New Evangelisation, the President of the Bishops’ Conference in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, has endorsed The Wednesday Word: a new and lively, mid-week (Wednesday) contact between the Church and primary school families. The enthusiasm of so many Catholic headteachers, school governors, RE coordinators, teachers and parish priests around the country to share the Word of God in this new way has been overwhelming – it’s ‘Good News’ for families.
‘GOOD NEWS’ FOR FAMILY FAITH
The best and most memorable stories in life are true. They are usually about some significant happening that has made a big difference in a person's life. The Wednesday Word mission (to send God’s Word into primary school family homes each week) started through a Catholic school family’s awakening and growth in faith - through reading the gospels together. Dannie (a married father of 3 children) was a lapsed Catholic for many years. He rediscovered his faith and returned to the Church after being encouraged to read the gospels. Over time, wanting to share what he had found with his family, he started to read the gospel with his wife and children too. Together they talked about the gospel’s meaning and relevance for their lives together. This special ‘Gospel Family Time’ proved to be a great way for the family to discuss faith and many other aspects of their lives - deepening their relationship with Christ, their local parish church and, indeed, strengthening their family relationships.
SCHOOL MISSION - SOWING SEEDS
Evangelisation for school parents:putting the Word of God, each week, into the home of every child in a Catholic primary school From very small beginnings, The Wednesday Word primary school resource developed.
Primarily, The Wednesday Word is an agent for the New Evangelisation, gently informing non-churchgoing parents about the ‘Good News’ and the relevance of the Christian faith. With its focus on the Sunday Gospel, this primary school resource is an attractive and colourful double-sided A4 leaflet which is designed to sow the seeds of God's Word; especially among the majority of parents who do not take their children to church. Statistics tell us this can be as high as 80% or above in many schools. The children receive the primary school version of The Wednesday Word, as a gift, in school each week for them to carry into the family home to read with their parents. In this way the Word is sent out by the school, just as (in the Parable) the Sower sends out the Seed, and so The Wednesday Word makes the Word of God present in thousands of school family homes each week, creating a new and powerful opportunity for the evangelisation of school parents.
GOSPEL FAMILY TIME CUSTOM
A new family habit of prayer and reflection based on the Sunday Gospel.
It is the parents who are the primary educators in their children's faith and The Wednesday Word helps them in this role, and also acts as a regular reminder of and invitation to Church. The resource also seeks to evangelise through a special ‘Gospel Family Time’ section on the back page. We suggest a particular day for ‘Gospel Family Time’ to help parents connect the name of the resource with the day on which they receive it from school (Wednesday). Since most of us are creatures of habit, nominating the same day each week helps families develop a new family custom of mid-week prayer. Moreover, Wednesday is the day which the Catholic Church dedicates to St Joseph, who is the Patron Saint of Families and Protector of the Church.
PARISHIONERS PRAYER CUSTOM
Forming hearts and minds to hear and understand the Word of God on Sunday
The success of the school mission is supported through parish prayer. The Parish version of The Wednesday Word is available free-of-charge on The Wednesday Word website (www.wednesdayword.org). This is a black and white resource which is designed for parish priests to download and print on the parish bulletin (or as a stand-alone leaflet) each week. It is offered as a gift for all parishioners to take home to be prayed on the following Wednesday, either individually or with other family members at home, or in small groups in the parish or the home. With its focus on the following Sunday’s Gospel, the Parish version invites all adult parishioners to encounter Christ regularly through this new Wednesday habit of prayer and reflection on the Word of God. This is a fruitful way to prepare for the hearing of the gospel at the following Sunday Mass. Moreover, it encourages parishioners to support the school mission by praying for (and in solidarity with) the families of our primary schools, thereby enhancing the spiritual communion between home, school and parish.
STRENGTHENING THE HOME, SCHOOL & PARISH PARTNERSHIP
When schools, parents and parishes work together, they deliver the best possible start for the faith-life of the children. A deep spiritual communion, based on the Word of God, between parishioners and school families on the same day each week will help build up the Body of Christ in school and in church and in the home. For more information please see: www.wednesdayword.org
‘May the choirs of angels come to greet you. May they speed you to paradise.’ A small group of pupils from years 5 and 6 of St Laurence’s Primary School, Cambridge, sang the gentle response, beautifully led by their headteacher cantor. They were helping the congregation of relatives and friends in St John the Baptist Cathedral, Norwich, bid a loving farewell to Fr Ben Grist, whom they had known during his student placement. Fr Ben had recently received the gift of ordination at the end of the fourth year of his studies, as he moved through the final stages of cancer.
Two weeks earlier, the same Cathedral, full to overflowing, had been the venue for a great celebration by the Diocese of East Anglia of the opening of the Year of Faith. At the end of Mass, people from across the Diocese watched as representatives from all the Catholic schools came forward to accept gifts of the Catechism and learning resources.
The presence of pupils at these celebrations demonstrated some of the ways in which our schools proclaim the gospel. It showed the determination, on the part of the staff of our schools, to remain true to their mission of educating children and young people in faith and helping them to understand the way in which that faith is celebrated. Long liturgies in cathedrals may not be the most accessible experience even for adults who are familiar with the ‘language’ of faith, but the children’s conduct showed that their teachers had prepared them carefully.
It also made evident the support which is often given to schools by the clergy. The children and young people were provided with all the facilities they needed, and it was clear that much thought had been given to what would be helpful to them. At the celebration for the opening of the Year of Faith, the Diocesan Administrator, Fr David Bagstaff, preached a homily which engaged their interest while still giving the adults plenty of food for thought. At the end of the celebration, the children processed out before the rest of the congregation, ensuring they were able to get to a different kind of food without delay!
The presence of the children at Fr Ben’s funeral highlighted the way in which Catholic schools and colleges develop, from the earliest years, the recognition of death as not only a time of loss and sadness, but also of joy for the person who is experiencing transformation into risen life. Making a commitment to this perspective on death is not easy in a society where belief in eternal life is uncertain. The comment of a monk of Ampleforth, that where all schools prepare their pupils for life, ‘we prepare them for death’, brings us up sharply against a truth which to many in our culture appears to be a paradox.
Our schools and colleges stand at the interface of deeply committed faith and a society and culture which finds it increasingly difficult to acknowledge the reality of God. They have to play the game according to the rules of government, Department for Education, Ofsted and Local Authorities, and, as we would expect, achieve the highest standards of professionalism in teaching and learning and standards of achievement. But through all of this, they do not forget the fundamental reason for their existence – through the education of children and young people, to proclaim the gospel, in all its challenge and joy.
There are no other countries where the system of education offers the Catholic community comparable opportunities for evangelisation. Our schools form an integral part of our national education system, and we can use that position to engage with, challenge, influence and support society itself. As a Church, we can sometimes overlook this and assume our business is the parish. But as Pope Benedict explained with such clarity in his address in Westminster Hall, ‘the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilisation.’ The existence of our schools and colleges, and their commitment to proclaiming the gospel, provide a superb foundation and catalyst for this dialogue.
Dr Dilys Wadman DSG is the former Director of Education for Archdiocese of Southwark