BY MURRAY WHITE
CATHOLIC SCHOOLS SCORED top marks in the annual round of the controversial league tables published this week. Although Catholic schools make up only around 10 per cent of all secondary schools, they took around 20 per cent of the top 300 places in the most widely-used GCSE table. Top Catholic comprehensive among the list was the Ursuline Convent, Brentwood, Essex, where 77 per cent of pupils obtained five or more GCSEs at grades AC. The school was 12th overall nationally. Eve Ranzetta, headmistress at the Ursuline Convent, was "delighted" with the high placing, but added that the tables "don't tell the whole story. There are schools lower down the list which have worked very hard to improve themselves over the past 12 months."
Mrs Ranzetta put the success of Catholic schools down to "more single-sex 'schools, more parental involvement and an ethos that is conducive to the work ethic".
The five next highest ranking Catholic schools were Coloma Convent, Croydon; Loreto College, St Albans; St Gregory's, Bath; St Mary's, Ilkley; and St Paul's, Haywards Heath, W Sussex. Two Catholic sixth form colleges, Aquinas, Stockport, and Notre Dame, Leeds, were among the top 20 nationally for A-level results. The results were released as the Catholic bishops sought this week to bolster standards in RE with what amounted to new attainment targets for the subject. "Broad Areas of Attainment in RE" sets out what children should be taught at each key stage of the National Curriculum. The document, prepared by seven diocesan RE advisers, picks out four major themes from VaticanII, suggesting what content should be taught each year. • It was a mixed week for educational establishments connected with the Oratorian order in England. While the London Oratory School (no longer run directly by the Order) was declared one of the best in London by the Evening Standard newspaper, the former Chair of governors at the Birmingham college run by the Oratorians was being lambasted by his former press secretary. In an astonishing outburst, Peter Jennings, former press officer 'to the clergy of the Birmingham Oratory, denounced Fr Guy Nichols for being at the heart of a lengthy and bitter dispute which last week led to a damning national report on St Philip's Sixth 'Form College. Mr Jennings said that the Oratory would "not recover from this deeply deplorable episode in its history until Fr Guy Nichols leaves the community for good". Although Fr Nichols resigned from the governing body in September pre-empting the findings of the report by Sir John Caines, Mr Jennings said this week he was "extremely disappointed" that Fr Nichols had made no public apology "for the tremendous damage he has done".
Responsible Governors? Behind the St Philip's saga, page 9.