Catholic schools educate a much higher proportion of pupils from the most deprived backgrounds than other schools, according to the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI), with ten times the catchment area of local schools so less reflective of immediate localities.

Free school meals are an inaccurate indicator for example, they continue after after household incomes exceed the threshold. Catholic schools welcome children with SEND, and parents will want to choose the school that is best for their children’s needs.

For a child with an EHCP, it is the local authority, not the school, that makes the decision about which school the child will attend, based solely on the child’s needs.

If parents decides that the local mainstream Catholic school is not the best fit for their child’s particular needs, they might instead opt for another school, such as a Catholic special school or a Catholic school approved for SEN pupils, of which there are 26 in England and Wales.  

Catholic schools nationally take 50% more children than other schools from the 10% most deprived areas, and about 25% fewer from the 10% most affluent areas: for IDACI figures see page 53 of the 2022 Census of Catholic schools in England

Columbans Biodiversity Matters schools competition webThe Columban Missionaries in Britain announce the launch of their latest Schools Media Competition 2023-2024 which has the title: ‘Biodiversity Matters’. The launch is during the first week of the Season of Creation when Christian communities around the world focus on valuing and protecting God’s creation. And a core aspect of Columban mission is justice, peace and ecology.

The competition is aimed at students aged between 13-18 years old in Catholic schools who are invited to explore Biodiversity – the richness of life forms on Earth and which humanity relies on for health, food and well-being. It is looking for pieces of writing and images that demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the issue of Biodiversity and highlight people, communities and/or organisations trying to build a sustainable future.

Pope Francis has told us that "because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God ... We have no such right" (Laudato Si' #33)

Columbans worldwide see the devastating impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss on people and the environment as interwoven moral issues in need of prophetic responses. Inspiration for action is drawn from the 2015 teaching document by Pope Francis, Laudato Si'.

In his role as Columban Justice and Peace Education Worker in Britain, James Trewby visits young people in schools and sixth forms and runs workshops, retreats and assemblies to promote justice, peace and the integrity of creation.

He said: “I’m delighted that the Columban Schools Media Competition this year focuses on the theme of Biodiversity. In a world of increasing globalisation and environmental degradation, management of biological diversity is one of the most important and critical challenges facing humankind today. The Columbans are keen to nurture the student voice and provide an opportunity for young people to engage with this issue.”

Encouraging creativity and faith engagement with issues in the world today, this year’s competition welcomes both written and image entries until the closing date of 17 February 2024. Winners will be announced on Columban media on 21 March 2024, the International Day of Forests.

Two separate competitions will be judged, one for students in Britain and one for students in Ireland. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winning entrants and the first prize in Britain is an impressive £500.

High-profile judges from the world of journalism have been secured, including Ruth Gledhill of The Tablet and Jo Siedlecka of Independent Catholic News. Also, Catholic experts on environmental protection and education, including Columban eco-theologian Fr Sean McDonagh and environmentalist Mary Colwell.

Winning entries will be published in the Columbans’ Far East magazine, Vocation for Justice newsletter, Columban websites in Ireland and Britain, Columban social media and in other Catholic media.

Schools will find the Columban Competition website a useful resource. It includes information on the theme, examples of Church work on Biodiversity, Catholic Social Teaching on the theme of Biodiversity and information about inspirational Catholics working on the issue. There are also details on submission of entries and a helpful FAQ page. The website provides material suitable for students, teachers and parents.

This is the seventh annual School’s Media Competition. Past themes have included Migrants, Climate Change, Racism, 21st Century Changemakers and Peace.

Find out more

Tuesday, 05 September 2023 08:30

Gathering together for Education Sunday

Bishop Marcus image landscapeThis year, the 10th of September marks the celebration of Education Sunday for the Church in England and Wales.

In our prayer intentions, we will ask Almighty God to bless all people involved in Catholic education, and to bless the year ahead.

The resources provided to schools and to parishes focus on the promise given by Jesus in St Matthew’s Gospel: Where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them (Matthew 18:20).

As students and staff gather for Education Sunday, they can take these words to heart, for our Lord Jesus Christ always keeps His promise: you are gathered together in His name and He is with you as you work, learn, pray, grow and live out your mission.

The great desire of Jesus is to be with us and to invite us to enter into a personal relationship with Him, a relationship of love. When a person knows they are truly loved, a new confidence abounds.

The mission of our Catholic schools, colleges and universities is to provide a holistic education which enables the lives of children and young people to flourish and for them to be formed into the men and women that God the Father has created them to be.

We owe much gratitude to all those who have governed, led, taught and supported the children and young people in our Catholic schools, colleges and universities over the years, and those who continue to create the environments and opportunities for a loving encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Since the 19th century the Catholic Church has become the country’s largest provider of secondary schools and second-largest provider of primary schools. They now outperform national averages for GCSE English, Maths and Religious Education results, while taking in more pupils from the most deprived backgrounds.

On Education Sunday, as we gather in the name of the Lord Jesus and have confidence that He is with us as He promised, let us give thanks to Almighty God for all the ways He has been present to us amidst the joys and sorrows of our life. Let us invite Him to be with us over the coming academic year.

The Right Reverend Marcus Stock MA, STL
Bishop of Leeds
Chairman of the Catholic Education Service

The CES and Ten Ten Resources have produced free, downloadable Education Sunday resources for use by schools and parishes

Foundation governor imageAre you looking for a way to live out your faith and serve your local community at the same time?

Since the 19th century the Catholic Church has become the country’s largest provider of secondary schools and second-largest of primary schools, along with four universities – but now they need your help.

Educational institutions are generally governed by a body made up of different types of representatives, such as parent governors and teacher governors.

Catholic schools and universities also include foundation governors, who volunteer to ensure the Catholic vision and character of the school is upheld. Appointed on behalf of the Bishop, foundation governors should always form a majority.

Since the pandemic Catholic educational institutions have experienced vacancies for foundation governors, and more are needed to sustain their Catholic ethos and leadership.

Paul Barber, Catholic Education Service Director, said: “As throughout history, Catholics must be prepared to support, promote and defend Catholic education.

“Practising Catholics could make excellent foundation governors, or know someone who might be interested, so please find out about getting involved by contacting your diocese.”

Foundation governors come from all walks of life, bringing a mix of skills, knowledge and experience. Catholic school pupils in England and in Wales are from significantly more diverse ethnic minority backgrounds than the state sector, and governing bodies should reflect this.

The main role of a governing body is at a strategic level, holding leadership to account; overseeing financial performance and setting the budget; managing admissions criteria; and being involved in recruiting to the most senior roles.

Being a foundation governor involves attending on average three full governing body meetings per year as well as serving on a committee focusing on issues such as staff pay, or admissions. Free training is provided by the diocese.

The 2,169 schools, colleges and academies in England and Wales continue to be true to their mission, by educating more pupils from the most deprived backgrounds, and also outperform national GCSE English, Maths and Religious Education averages.

Foundation governors are also needed for Catholic higher education, at Leeds Trinity, Liverpool Hope, Birmingham Newman and St Mary’s universities.

To find out more about becoming a school foundation governor please contact your diocese. If you are interested in becoming a governor at a Catholic university please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Page 2 of 13