Roman Catholic School Statistics

Roman Catholic schools have long formed a key part of the state school system in Great Britain, accounting for about one in ten of all maintained school places in England and Wales. These schools receive 100% of their running costs and 90% of their capital funding from the state.

Over and above any reporting which these schools have to make to Government, there has been a much more detailed annual census of Roman Catholic schools, teachers and pupils carried out from within the Church since 1959, successively by the Newman Demographic Survey (NDS), Catholic Education Council and Catholic Education Service (CES) for England and Wales.

The results of these censuses were substantively published until the CES assumed responsibility for their administration. Although the CES has latterly issued digests for 2007 and 2008, it has allegedly declined researcher access to all its school statistics for 1992-2006 and to the unpublished data for 2007 and subsequent years.

One researcher who has regularly sought access to these hidden data has been Tony Spencer, founder of the NDS and currently Honorary Secretary of the Pastoral Research Centre (PRC), of which the present writer is also a non-Catholic trustee. Tony’s overall contribution to the development of Catholic statistics is summarized at:

Tony has now written up the full story of his (as yet unsuccessful) attempts to persuade the CES to grant access to these school census data in a paper published by Russell-Spencer Ltd on 8 October and entitled Secrecy in the Catholic Church: The Case of Catholic School Statistics in England and Wales (ISBN 978 1 905270 52 1).

Copies of this paper, and of an accompanying press release, are available from Tony Spencer, Stone House, Hele, Taunton, Somerset, TA4 1AJ; telephone 01823 46169; email

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