LONDON, JAN. 11, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Catholic schools in England and Wales were seen to provide a better education than other institutions on all levels, particularly in the personal development of students.
These were some of the conclusions in two publications released Monday by the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CESEW).
The CESEW published a “Digest of 2009 Census Data for Schools and Colleges” as well as a report titled “Value Added: the Distinctive Contribution of Catholic Schools and Colleges in England.”
The report noted that according to the governmental Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), “Catholic schools rated consistently better than average on all criteria.”
Bishop Malcolm McMahon, CESEW chairman, stated, “These two publications make it very clear that Catholic education continues to make a very important contribution to the future of our society.”
“Furthermore,” he added, “they show just how well taxpayers’ money is spent when it is channeled into Catholic schools.”
Oona Stannard, CESEW chief executive and director, noted: “I am particularly pleased to note that our achievements are also matched by conspicuously high scores for personal development, including enjoyment of school.
“To have such happy and successful outcomes doesn’t just benefit the pupils — nearly 30% of whom are not Catholic — but also shows the Church making an investment in the future well being of society through Catholic schools.”
In the area of personal development and well-being, the report noted, “The most striking difference was in the assessment of learners’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, but Catholic schools also did much better on the criteria relating to learners’ enjoyment of their education, their behavior and the extent to which they made a positive contribution to the community.”
This category, in which the Catholic schools showed a significant advantage over their counterparts, measured other elements such as healthy lifestyles, safe practices, attendance, behavior and economic well-being.
In terms of overall effectiveness, 73% of Catholic secondary schools were shown to be outstanding or good, compared to 60% of schools nationally. For primary schools, 74% of Catholic schools were judged outstanding or good compared to 66% nationally.
The report added that these results also reflect social diversity within Catholic schools, as these institutions have the same proportions of children eligible for free school meals as schools nationally.
As well, the Catholic schools showed more ethnic diversity than their national counterparts.
In the report’s forward, Stannard stated that “perhaps the most revealing part of the survey is the short section exploring the value added by the schools.”
“This clearly shows that our schools do exceptionally well both in terms of objective measures of attainment and when contextual factors such as levels of disadvantage are taken into account,” she added.
Stannard continued: “Three findings of the survey are particularly encouraging and should motivate us to engage in a spirit of confident cooperation with our community neighbors.
“The first is the maintenance of high quality from the early years right through the secondary phase of education. The second is the good quality of all aspects of leadership.
“Perhaps most important of all, the third concerns our contribution to the community, which is consistently rated far above average in both primary and secondary phases.”
Stannard asserted, “In facing the challenges of education in the 21st century we can confidently confirm that Catholic schools are part of the solution, not the problem.”