CISC Response to Schools that Work for Everyone (Government Consultation). The Catholic Independent Schools’ Conference is a registered charity which represents 135 Catholic independent schools in the UK and beyond who are subscribed members. In England and Wales there are 129 Catholic independent schools in CISC, educating 40,504 pupils  at no cost to the state, although the parents who send their children to independent schools support the state system through taxation. The schools vary considerably in size and include primary, secondary, all through and independent special schools. In addition, CISC represents 9 non-maintained Catholic special schools.
CISC schools share the same values as all other Catholic schools. As the Bishops of England and Wales said in their 2014 document, Catholic Education in England and Wales, “whatever their status – Voluntary Aided, Academy, Non-Maintained Special, Sixth-Form College or Independent – Catholic schools and colleges are established to support Catholic parents in their responsibility for the academic, physical, spiritual, moral and religious education of their children in accordance with the teachings of the Church. Catholic education endeavours to make the person of Jesus Christ known and loved, and to place Him and the teachings of the Catholic Church at the centre of the educational enterprise. In placing ‘Christ at the Centre’ , Catholic education seeks to invite all into a life of discipleship within the Body of the Church. This means
that Catholic Schools are committed to promoting:
- The search for excellence
- The uniqueness of the individual
- The education of the whole person
- The education of all
- Moral principles” 
These are the principles upon which our Catholic independent schools are built and the perspective by which we view any proposals for educational change. In specific terms, we offer the following comments on sections of the Green Paper.
 Digest of 2016 Census Data for Schools and Colleges in England, Catholic Education Service
 Christ at the Centre, Catholic Truth Society, 2nd Edition, 2012
 Catholic Education in England and Wales, Catholic Education Service, 2014
We welcome in principle the Government’s proposal that independent schools should offer even greater benefit to the wider community. Catholic schools are committed to the common good of society and to fostering Gospel values in their students which benefit the wider community. Many of our Catholic independent schools were founded by religious orders on the principles of service to the whole human family.
We welcome in principle the proposal that independent schools with the capacity and capability should sponsor academies or set up a new free school in the state sector. It should be noted, however, that it is not possible for Catholic independent schools to establish new Catholic schools. It is the Diocesan Bishop who holds canonical responsibility for the provision of Catholic education within his diocese, and who has strategic responsibility to commission sufficient places in Catholic schools to meet the needs of baptised Catholic children resident in his area. Catholic independent schools should be given credit for the work that they do in collaboration with dioceses in establishing new Catholic schools, and supporting existing Catholic schools, as well as other schools in the community.
In the examples below, one CISC school (New Hall, Chelmsford) is already a sponsor of a local school which was in special measures and is now rated as a Good school. We would however stress the point that only those schools with the capacity and capability should be expected to take on such system leadership and the schools themselves are the best judge of this, rather than any arbitrarily imposed measure.
We welcome in principle the proposal that more fully funded bursaries should be offered to pupils. Catholic independent schools are already committed to a generous programme of bursaries for students, which contributes significantly to the development of social capital and social mobility in this country. We would, however, caution against an overly prescriptive benchmark for deciding which schools meet any new test for bursaries. Smaller independent schools in particular would struggle with the imposition of such benchmarks. There are hidden costs related to bursaries which need to be considered. Many schools feel that the fairest way to assess the eligibility of families for bursaries is to use third party agencies which is a cost to the school. Therefore, we would not see strictly quantitative benchmarks as the best way forward but a more flexible encouragement for increasing bursaries.
Below are some examples across the range of our schools where a commitment to partnership benefits the state school system and the wider school community:
South Clifton Catholic Hub
The South Clifton Catholic Hub, consisting of three Catholic independent schools, one maintained secondary school and nine maintained primary schools, was established in 2010. The Hub acts under the terms of a ‘soft’ federation or collaboration, with an executive committee of headteachers and a strategic body of governors and headteachers. The Hub has set up a number of programmes and sub-groups in recent years, including a co-ordinators group for RE teachers.
This year, Prior Park School in Bath hosted all the Hub school for a Laudato Si’ day, in which the pupils used the school’s historic landscape gardens and chapel to explore in some depth the encyclical letter of Pope Francis on care for our common home. The day marked the beginning of a year-long project in the schools, with older pupils working with younger pupils to help draw up action plans for what could be done in school. The headteachers group will monitor impact and progress throughout the year and the project will conclude with another day at Prior Park to celebrate the work of the schools.
Stonyhurst College, Lancashire: Christian Heritage Centre
The Christian Heritage Centre project at Stonyhurst ( http://www.christianheritagecentre.com/ ) is an excellent example of partnership between an independent school and a freestanding charitable project. Not only will it rescue the ruins of a grade two listed building in the grounds of Stonyhurst College, it will provide a residential resource for scholars, retreats, and leadership formation. Stonyhurst is home to Collections of more than 60,000 books and 50,000 artefacts, some of which are currently being exhibited in Washington DC. The CHC charity wants to make the Collections more accessible to a wider audience and to College students. Earlier this year, the CHC charity was able to provide over £200,000 for the new exhibition areas in the restored Old Chapel Museum.
£2.7 million has now been raised towards the restoration of the Old Mill Building which will be known as Theodore House: St. Theodore was a Syrian Christian, sent to Britain as Archbishop of Canterbury. Theodore House will provide over 30 units of accommodation, enabling visiting scholars to study the unique historic Collections. There will be opportunities for schools to use the facility for retreats and Theodore House will also help to form and sustain Christian leaders in professional and civic life.
In addition, the Christian sculptor, Stephen Broadbent, has been asked to design a set contemporary stations of the cross (The Northern Stations) in the adjacent woodland (Fox Hall Wood) and to give them contemporary themes of suffering and crucifixion (exploring issues such as suicide, mental illness, loneliness, persecution, conflict, abandonment). Stephen is keen to involve young people – particularly those currently unemployed and from the north and with an interest in sculpture and the arts – to develop skills while working on the project.
The project’s Royal Patron is the Queen’s cousin, Lord Nicholas Windsor. Among the CHC’s other Patrons are four Cardinals, Bishop Nicholas Reade (the former Anglican Bishop of Blackburn) Lord Shuttleworth (Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire), Professor David Khalili (the Jewish philanthropist and academic), Field Marshall Lord Guthrie (former head of our armed forces) the Rt. Hon Ann Widdecombe, Ilyas Khan KSG and John Studzinski CBE KSG. Other Patrons include Parliamentarians such as Frank Field MP, Sir Edward Leigh MP, Baroness (Caroline) Cox, Nigel Evans, Lord Hennessy and Lord Brennan QC. To learn more visit: http://www.christianheritagecentre.com/
Diocese of Middlesbrough Teaching School Alliance
Ampleforth College in Yorkshire has been successful in its application to co-lead, with All Saints in York, the Diocese of Middlesbrough Teaching School Alliance. The alliance, in partnership with Leeds Trinity University, will take on its first student teachers onto its School Direct programme in September 2017. The benefit of the School Direct (salaried) route is that the school, in conjunction with Leeds Trinity, can develop a programme with a focus on core values which will lead to a PGCE and QTS status. The staff at Ampleforth will be able to offer academic subjects which are being lost to the curriculum, such as Classics.
Steve Sandwell, the Operations Manager for the Diocese of Middlesbrough Teaching School Alliance, said, “Our Teaching School Alliance will harness the strength and talents of those colleagues within the partner schools to ensure outstanding outcomes for the young people in our care. We offer an extensive range of opportunities through our Alliance including: a School Direct Teacher Training Programme, CPD provision for both primary and secondary colleagues and a network of experienced and specialist staff who can put together bespoke CPD and support packages for schools as required.”
New Hall sponsorship of Messing-cum-Inworth Primary School
In 2013, New Hall School near Chelmsford became the first independent school to set up a Multi-Academy Trust to help turn around the fortunes of a local primary school, a revolutionary move that has now been imitated by a number of other independent schools. Messing Primary School faced closure, in special measures with only 31 pupils. Two years on, with a roll of over 80, it is oversubscribed and is rated ‘Good’, with ‘Outstanding Leadership and Governance’ by Ofsted. New Hall Governors have significant expertise in Multi-Academy Trusts; they generously advise many schools in the maintained and independent sectors. Governance at New Hall is consistently assessed ‘excellent’ by ISI, Ofsted and Brentwood Diocese: “Governance of the school is excellent, pupils’ achievement and personal development demonstrate high levels of success in accordance with the school’s aims.” (ISI).
St Vincent’s School, A Specialist School for Sensory Impairment and Other Needs
The staff and pupils of St. Vincent’s in Liverpool have been working on innovative technology to benefit visually impaired young people, who have much higher levels of unemployment and isolation than their peers. Their most recent project has been the Sightbox, a collection of technology to enable better participation by VI young people in sports. The technology being developed includes a rugby ball with a bell, a running line to enable VI young people to run without the aid of a sighted guide and a grid to allow VI young people to take part in bowls. Working in partnership with local businesses, St. Vincent’s will be distributing the Sightboxes to VI communities locally, nationally and internationally. This will not only benefit the VI young people who participate but there will be a social enterprise benefit as training and employment opportunities are developed.
The impact of these projects, in different ways, will be to increase social capital among those taking part, whether that is by exposure to enhanced learning environments and rare artefacts, finding pathways into a values-based teaching career, directly improving the quality of education offered in a school or providing innovative equipment to help overcome the obstacle of visual impairment.
We welcome the Green Paper’s recognition of the contribution of Catholic schools to our society and the proposal to allow the creation of more Catholic schools by removing the 50% cap. The Paper acknowledges the growing demand for Catholic schools and we support any plan to expand the Catholic sector as a major contribution to diversity of choice for parents. Our schools promote British values but we are rooted in Gospel values which means we are committed to the common good and the service of the wider community. Our schools promote the formation of the individual person and we are fully committed to academic excellence in the context of a rounded education, or life to the full. We would add that the planning for any new schools, or expansion of existing schools, should include a careful assessment of the impact on the existing provision.
We broadly support the requirements to replace the 50% rule, noting that the demand for new Catholic schools is well established and Dioceses are experienced in researching such demand. There are many examples already in existence of twinning arrangements and partnerships between Catholic schools and other schools in the community. Catholic schools already very often have a governor from a different faith background, whether they are a Local Authority governor, a parent governor or a member of the local business community.
With regard to the proposal to set up mixed-faith multi academy trusts, we would point out that it is not possible for this to happen, since the Diocesan Bishop would not recognise a school as Catholic unless the governance arrangements provide that control is vested in the Catholic Church. Non-Catholic schools can, however, join a Catholic multi academy trust, and the articles of association used by Catholic multi academy trusts allows for this possibility.
In addition to the above, we support the consultation response submitted by our colleagues at the Catholic Education Service. We look forward to working constructively with Government on the next phase of the proposals.