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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

CES reminder of community role in child’s education

Catholic parents, carers, schools and parish communities all play a major role in a child’s development, the Catholic Education Service (CES) has insisted.

The statement comes following a report from the UCL Institute of Education which claims that a religious home background is actually more important than a faith school education for academic success.

IOE researchers analysed data on more than 10,000 people born in England and Wales in a single week in 1970, who are taking part in the 1970 British Cohort Study.

The research looked at whether faith schools, across both the state and private sectors, gave an academic advantage to their pupils at O level, A level, and at university.

After taking into account childhood cognitive scores, social background and religious upbringing, as well as school sector (private, comprehensive, grammar or secondary modern), the researchers found that a faith school education was only associated with better academic results in the short term.

At O level, even after taking religious background into account, pupils from Church of England and Catholic schools had a small advantage over their peers from non-faith schools, amounting to about a third of an O level on average.

However, at A level and degree level, there did not appear to be any academic benefits of a faith school education compared to peers who had a religious upbringing and other similar characteristics, but did not go to a faith school.

Professor Alice Sullivan, the study’s lead author, said: “Pupils who were raised in religious homes were more likely to succeed academically than those from non-religious backgrounds, whether they went to faith schools or not, and any small academic advantage that could be due to faith schools themselves was short lived.

“The much-vaunted ‘Catholic school effect’ was mostly explained by the fact that Catholic school pupils were usually from Catholic homes.”

However, the CES stressed that a pupil’s academic success is not only due to one factor but a mix of their Catholic parents, carers, schools and parish communities.

“The successful formation of a Catholic child is based on the relationship between Catholic parents and carers, Catholic schools and the wider parish community,” a CES spokesperson told The Catholic Universe.

“Catholics would venture that this shared sense of educational purpose produces an environment where their children can feel spiritually nourished and therefore confident enough to pursue their academic goals.

“This is underlined by the popularity of Catholic schools among Catholic families where over two-thirds of pupils in state schools are Catholic.”