Please visit our new website for the Year of Catholic Education 2010-2011 and update your bookmarks accordingly.


The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education, praised the contribution of the Catholic Church to society in his foreword to the programme distributed to all participants at ‘The Big Assembly’, the celebration of Catholic education during ‘The Big Assembly’. He wrote:

“We can all learn from the Catholic Church, which recognises the importance of building strong communities who work together to help one another, particularly those less fortunate. The Catholic Church wants to improve the lives of all children, a goal shared by the Government.”

The Secretary of State’s foreword is reprinted in full below.

Foreword to ‘The Big Assembly’ programme

I am delighted to welcome you all to the ‘Big Assembly’. I am pleased so many of you have been able to take part in Pope Benedict’s first visit to the UK – a truly historic event. Today is particularly significant because it marks the importance that education plays in the lives of children around the world. Being able to go to school is something that many of us in the UK take for granted but in many parts of the world children do not have this opportunity.  The Government is supporting the UN’s Education Millennium Development Goal initiative which aims to ensure that all children have the right to an education, a goal which I know is particularly close to Pope Benedict’s own heart.

We can all learn from the Catholic Church, which recognises the importance of building strong communities who work together to help one another, particularly those less fortunate. The Catholic Church wants to improve the lives of all children, a goal shared by the Government. Today we will hear from children from St John Vianney Basic Cycle School in Gambia on how going to school is helping them build a better life not just for themselves but for their families and communities. We will also hear how the school’s links with Holy Cross Catholic School, in Plymouth through the Government’s Global School Partnership programme, is helping children from both schools learn more about each other’s culture, beliefs, and challenges preparing them to become active global citizens in our increasingly interdependent world.

Today is a day many of us will never forget and I hope that you all enjoy the ‘Big Assembly’.

The Right Honourable Michael Gove MP
Secretary of State for Education

Posted by: CESEW | 23/09/2010

‘The Big Assembly’ news coverage

St Mary’s University College have collated some of the news coverage from ‘The Big Assembly’. Click here to visit their website and hear what different broadcasters had to say about our celebration of Catholic education!

Posted by: CESEW | 23/09/2010

Some photos – please keep sending them in!

Thanks to all those schools who have sent photos in so far. A selection is below, along with some of our behind the scenes photos. Keep sending your pictures, videos and press clippings in and we’ll continue to upload them!

Bishop Malcolm McMahon OP and Andy Akinwolere in the Thursday rehearsal

‘The Big Assembly’ team started work very early on Friday morning! Here’s the stage at 5.30am

Students from St Winefride’s, Leicester, with Bishop Malcolm McMahon OP at ‘The Big Assembly’

The three books presented to the Holy Father

St Joseph’s Specialist School and College from Cranleigh baked a cake to celebrate the Holy Father’s visit

Staff and students from St Mary’s Combined and St Edward’s Secondary schools (complete with their goodie bags!) prepare to leave Strawberry Hill after ‘The Big Assembly’

Several local schools played host to staff and pupils from schools around the country as they gathered early on Friday morning – here are some pupils eating their breakfast at St James’ Catholic Primary School in Twickenham

The Holy Father looked back on his Apostolic Journey to the United Kingdom this morning during his general audience. You can watch it in full here.

Looking back on ‘The Big Assembly’, he said:

“Upon arriving in London, I met thousands of Catholic students and schoolchildren at a very joyful celebration, reminding all of us of the excellent and essential work being done by Catholic schools and teachers throughout the land.”

Thank you again to everyone who helped to make ‘The Big Assembly’ such a success!

Posted by: CESEW | 21/09/2010

Thank you!

…to everyone who helped to make ‘The Big Assembly’ such a success! Whether you were with us in Twickenham on Friday or watching remotely, we hope you and your students enjoyed the celebration.

You can watch ‘The Big Assembly’ again online by clicking here. You can also access the Holy Father’s address at ‘The Big Assembly’ by clicking here.

If you have any photos or videos of your children at Twickenham, or celebrating around the country, we’d love to see them! Please send them to and we’ll upload some of them to the blog.

Posted by: CESEW | 16/09/2010

Photos shortly available

Photos from the rehearsal day today, including pictures of all of our lead participants, will shortly be available online on our Flickr site:


The programme for ‘The Big Assembly’ is now available to download as a pdf. All participants will be given hard copies of this tomorrow when they arrive on site. To download the pdf, just click here.

Posted by: CESEW | 15/09/2010

The final live link up notification

All schools should have received their final instructions for accessing the live link up today, including some technical info to help you in case you encounter difficulties. Please read the instructions carefully and make sure you test the link up before Friday morning!

We are also delighted that the warm up for ‘The Big Assembly’ will now be broadcast LIVE online as well from 9-10am – details can be found in the email about the live link up.

If you haven’t received the email about the link up, please contact your Diocesan co-ordinator, as they have all received the same information as schools and should be able to help. Please note that all of ‘The Big Assembly’ core team will be working on site from now until the Holy Father’s arrival so we won’t be able to respond to emails directly.

Posted by: CESEW | 15/09/2010

2 days to go! Bishop George Stack writes…

2 days to go!

Today we hear from Bishop George Stack, Chairman of the Board of Governors at St Mary’s University College, about how he is looking forward to ‘The Big Assembly’ on Friday:

“As Chair of Governors of St. Mary’s University College, Twickenham, I am delighted and honoured to welcome Pope Benedict on his first engagement in England. That he should come to St. Mary’s is appropriate as the College has been engaged in the formation of Catholic teachers for over 150 years.

Latterly, it has expanded its academic work and now prepares undergraduates  for a wide range of professional careers.  His Holiness will  meet  in the chapel  with Religious who have education as their charism and with diocesan education officers.  Then he will be driven in the Popemobile to meet with over 3500 schoolchildren for ‘The Big Assembly’.  This will be streamed into  schools via the internet and will be watched not only in the United Kingdom but  also viewed by Catholic schools in Europe.  Finally, the Pope will be taken to a different part of the campus where he will meet with men and women of different faiths who are influential in the social, political and economic life of our country.  A wonderful privilege for St. Mary’s University College at the beginning of these historic days.”

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