Pastoral Letters

Education Sunday

Education Sunday is that special time of year when we celebrate and support our Catholic schools.

Sunday, September 16, 2018
Office of the Bishop
Right Reverend Patrick McKinney

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Last week, the Catholic Church in England and Wales celebrated Education Sunday. However, as this was also the weekend of Adoremus - the National Eucharistic Congress, I decided to delay my Pastoral Letter on Education until this weekend.

Education Sunday is that special time of year when we celebrate and support our Catholic schools. Coinciding with the beginning of the academic year, it is an opportunity for us to give thanks for the important work that our schools perform, and to acknowledge the commitment of thousands of teachers, support staff, governors and directors who play such a crucial role in making our schools among the most successful in the country.

In the gospel reading for last week, our Lord spoke the words, ‘Ephphatha – be opened’. This reminds us that Catholic schools are to be open, welcoming places, where children and young people’s minds are opened to the revelation of Christ’s teaching and his love for us all. Like Peter in our gospel today, we desire that they are given opportunities to encounter Jesus personally, and come to recognise Him as the Christ, the anointed Son of God.

In my Pastoral Letter for Education Sunday last year, I described the changes that would be taking place in our diocesan schools over the coming year. I am pleased to tell you that this major work has been completed, and that we now have four Catholic Multi-Academy Trusts under the patronage of Our Lady of Lourdes, St Thérèse of Lisieux, St Thomas Aquinas and St Ralph Sherwin. The remaining voluntary-aided schools have been converted to academies, with a very small number due to be converted at the beginning of October. Each Trust is led by a Chief Executive Officer and a number of other staff to provide support in the areas of Catholic Life, standards, finance, and human resources. A newly constituted board of directors will oversee and challenge the work of each of these Trusts.

This major change will now mean that all our diocesan schools will be part of a Trust, which will provide both challenge and support to enable each school to provide an outstanding Catholic education to the young people it serves. There will also be far greater possibilities for schools to collaborate and support each other in a much more structured way, so that no school is left in an isolated or vulnerable situation. Over time increasing amounts of the administrative and compliance work, that occupies a great deal of Headteachers’ workloads, will be taken on by the Trusts so that school leaders can devote themselves more fully to leading both the Catholic Life of the school and teaching and learning. Over the past year, I have also made clear my strong desire that our four Trusts work in close collaboration with each other and that our schools recognise that, first and foremost, they are all part of the Diocese of Nottingham and that they are charged with carrying out the educational mission of the Church here in our Diocese.

You may recall that in my Pastoral Letter on Education last year, I appealed for members of our community to consider the possibility of becoming a Foundation Director on one of the new boards; I am delighted at the very positive response to this, and would like to thank all of our new directors for their generosity in accepting the invitation.

This year, I would like to issue a similar appeal, but this time for Foundation Governors. The role of a Foundation Governor continues to be an extremely important one. The fundamental duty of a Foundation Governor is inextricably linked to me as the diocesan bishop. It’s about ensuring that both the Catholic Life of the school and the academic standards within it are as high as they possibly can be. The role of Foundation Governors will now enable them to devote themselves more completely to these core tasks, whilst also providing a much-needed link with the local parish communities.

So, I ask you now to consider the possibility of carrying out this important role in support of our local schools and the diocese as a whole. If you are interested in finding out a little more about the role, please ask your parish priest or contact the Diocesan Education Service.

Please don’t think that this role is just for those who have a knowledge of education. Our local governing bodies need to have committed Catholics, from all walks of life, who wish to support Catholic education in their local area. Good training and support will be provided.

Please join me in seeking the prayerful intercession of Our Blessed Lady, and Saints Thérèse of Lisieux, Thomas Aquinas and Ralph Sherwin, to watch over and guide our schools, their pupils and staff, so that they and we may all come to encounter ever more deeply in our lives, Jesus as the Christ, who loves each and everyone one of us, and who invites us to serve him generously.

With my prayers and blessing to you all,

Right Reverend Patrick McKinney

Bishop of Nottingham

Read more

Latest news from

Office of the Bishop

See all