Heywood joint church school opens doors

Date published: 19 September 2007

Holy Family College in Heywood, the first ever joint Roman Catholic and Church of England secondary school in Greater Manchester, will be opened by the Bishop of Manchester and the Bishop of Salford on Thursday 20 September at 11am.

The Bishops will lead a short service of dedication before blessing the school building in the presence of pupils, teachers, governors and guests.

The school is the result of years of collaboration between the Catholic and Anglican communities in Heywood. In 2003 the Bishops of Manchester and Salford set up a working party to explore the possibility of St Joseph’s Roman Catholic high school becoming a joint Roman Catholic and Church of England high school.

At the time, St Joseph’s had served the catholic population of Heywood for 46 years.  Even thought it was the smallest secondary school in the local authority of Rochdale, the high quality of education it provided was recognised and valued by the local community, the diocese and the local authority.

However, there was no secondary provision within the borough of Rochdale for students who attended Church of England primary schools. If they sought a faith-based education they had to travel to neighbouring towns.

The working party addressed issues of governance, staffing, student admissions, religious education and worship.  It worked with great enthusiasm, and realised that the two denominations had more common elements that united them, than differences that divided them.

The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, said, ““I am delighted to be sharing with the Bishop of Salford in this historic opening of Heywood College. This is the first time the Church of England and Roman Catholic dioceses here have cooperated in such a project. I pray that this new secondary school will provide excellent education within a Christian ethos that will benefit both its pupils and the whole community.”

The Bishop of Salford, the Rt Revd Terence Brain said, “The opening of the Holy Family College at Heywood is the fulfilment of some years of collaboration between the Diocese of Salford and the Diocese of Manchester, which has involved the Catholic and Anglican communities in Heywood and the Governors and Staff of Holy Family College.  I am very happy to be sharing this exciting new venture in Christian education.”

The headteacher, Mrs Susan Casey said, “As we gather together to pray for the future of our new school, we reflect on our motto ‘Ut Unum Sint’, ‘that we are one’.  We are a unique school in both the dioceses, and as we embark on our exciting journey together we are full of hope that we will be successful in our mission to flourish together as a Christian Community.”

Maurice Smith, Director of Education for Manchester Diocese, said, “The Church of England in Manchester supports 182 primary and 11 secondary schools, including two Academies.  We are very excited about further developing our links with our Catholic colleagues to provide a distinctive Christian education at Holy Family College. 

“Staff in church schools have a long history of successful leadership and management of education firmly grounded in Christian values. Such an ethos has a positive, measurable impact on educational standards and gives young people the care, support and guidance they need from our secondary schools.  Parents understand this and, I’m sure, will choose to apply for places at Holy Family.”

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