The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families this week paid tribute Catholic schools at the CESEW annual Parliamentary Reception to celebrate, promote and affirm Catholic education. The Rt Hon Ed Balls MP joined headteachers, principals of Catholic sixth form colleges, diocesan officers, MPs, Peers and other friends of Catholic education to celebrate the success of so many Catholic schools and colleges in providing an excellent education for more than 800,000 children, young people and mature adults in England and Wales. Guests also expressed their thanks to Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the former Chairman of CESEW and welcomed new Chairman Bishop Malcolm McMahon.
The Secretary of State congratulated Catholic schools on “a commitment to standards but also a commitment to wellbeing, to supporting the wider cultural and spiritual and moral development of children” noting that these schools “disproportionately take children from more disadvantaged backgrounds than the average, disproportionately take children with greater ethnic diversity than the average, and consistently achieve results which are above average”. Mr Balls also praised the contribution of Catholic schools to community cohesion and citizenship, saying that “many of our Catholic schools are at the cutting edge of promoting community cohesion and we have a lot to learn from those schools”. He went on to thank CESEW for their "strong support" noting that "We’ve learned a lot from the Catholic Church and the approach of the CES to education. I value this relationship and I look forward to working with you more in the years to come."
In his first speech as CESEW Chairman, Bishop Malcolm McMahon described his new role as “a great joy and a great challenge” and reflected on the many gifts Catholic education in particular can offer the world of education in general, saying that it was time for Catholics to “step forward”. Seeking to define the ethos that makes Catholic schools so special, Bishop Malcolm said that Catholic education can speak a “word of truth” and a “word of grace”, teaching the world to “seek goodness”. Bishop Malcolm related this contribution to the upcoming visit of the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux to England and Wales, offering the saint as an “example of how to seek goodness in the simple things of life.”
Acting as host Jim Dobbin described the reception as “a celebration of Catholic education in all its forms, locally, nationally and internationally” expressing his hope that the Catholic education system would continue to go “from strength to strength” saying that this would be “not just for the benefit of Catholic education but for the benefit of education in total”.
Photos from the reception are available on our Flickr photostream (please credit: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)
• This is the fifth annual CES Parliamentary Reception held in the House of Commons. Guests enjoy the opportunity to meet and share their experiences of Catholic education in different parts of the country and the occasion is a public celebration of the distinctive and diverse nature of Catholic education. The Reception affirms providers’ commitment to Catholic education and acknowledges their role in educating around 800,000 young people in England and Wales from a wide variety of backgrounds.
• Attendees included, among other, head teachers and members of school senior management teams, principals of Catholic Sixth Form Colleges, diocesan officers and Parliamentarians.
• Jim Dobbin MP was the main host for 2009 (previous hosts have been Labour MPs, including Geraldine Smith MP in 2007 and Lady Morris of Bolton in 2008).
• This year’s event celebrated the continuum of Catholic education “from cradle to grave”, with a particular focus on further and higher education, sectors in which the Church has a significant presence.
• Guests were presented with a special PowerPoint presentation produced by CESEW for the upcoming visit of the relics of St Therese of Lisieux. This presentation will be distributed to every school in England and Wales, and will be available from www.cesew.org.uk from Monday 29 June 2009.