Perennial truths in a time of change

The beauty of Catholic Education in schools

Saturday 20th October 2018

This conference seeks to set out afresh some of the key principles which underpin Catholic education. Michael Merrick will speak primarily about formation of the intellect informed by grace whilst Robert Teague will focus more on formation of the will, similarly informed by grace. We hope the conference will be an occasion for many people involved in secondary education to exchange their experiences of promoting Catholic education in schools.


3.00pm Arrival and Registration. Tea/coffee

4.00pm Introduction and welcome. Dr Noel Russell

4.15pm The case for Catholic schools. Dr Leonard Franchi

4.45pm The pursuit of Truth: what’s different about the Catholic curriculum? Michael Merrick

5.15pm A life well lived: teaching the true meaning of happiness.  Robert Teague

5.45pm Q&A

6.15pm Refreshments

7.00pm Thornycroft Dinner


The Thornycroft Dinner is served in the dining room of Thornycroft Hall from 7pm. The meal provides an informal opportunity to meet and talk to conference participants. Toward the end of the dinner, Dr Noel Russell, the chairman of The Thornycroft Conferences, will invite comment and discussion on matters raised in the Conference.


There are only 25 places available at the Thornycroft Dinner. Places for the dinner will be allocated on a first come first served basis.


Fill in the booking application here.


Conference fee £20

Conference fee & Thornycroft Dinner£40


Dr Noel Russell, emeritus senior lecturer at Manchester University, studied agricultural economics at University College Dublin and University College Galway before undertaking research work at Cornell University leading to a PhD. He has been at Manchester since 1979, apart from brief stints as Visiting Research Fellow with Defra (London) and USDA (Washington DC), and short visits to university and government organizations in Italy, Mongolia and Australia. He has published numerous papers and reports on economic issues related to food production and environmental impacts of agriculture, and is author of Economics of Feeding the Hungry (Routledge, 2018). 


Dr Leonardo Franchi has been a member of the Department of Religious Education of the University of Glasgow since 2005. From 2012 until 2016 he was the inaugural head of the St Andrew’s Foundation for Catholic Teacher Education. Dr Franchi is currently a member of the Creativity, Culture and Faith research and teaching group, specialising in Religious Education. He currently teaches on the MEduc, PGDE and MA in Religious and Philosophical Education. He has written extensively on Religious Education. He is the author of Shared Mission: Religious Education in the Catholic Tradition (Scepter, 2016). Along with Ronnie Convery and Raymond McCluskey, he co-authored Reclaiming the Piazza: Catholic Education as a Cultural Project (Gracewing, 2014), and edited Reclaiming the Piazza: The Catholic School as a Centre of the New Evangelisation (Gracewing, 2017). He is currently working with Richard Rymarz, Broken Bay Institute, Australia, on a new book (due May 2019) on the preparation of teachers for Catholic schools.


Michael Merrick lives in North Cumbria with his wife and six children. He works in education and has taught various subjects and ages since joining the profession in 2010. He was a contributor to the Blue Labour book of essays, which has sought to reclaim an authentic conservative legacy within the now liberal-dominated Labour Party, and was involved with research and writing for its close kin, Red Tory. He has written for various outlets and takes an interest in the ways in which values clash is shaping education, politics, and the character of an increasingly fraught civic space in the UK.


Robert Teague has been the Headmaster of the Cedars school in Croydon since 2013. Before that he was Assistant Headteacher at Wallington County Grammar School and Head of Mathematics at Magdalen College School, Oxford. Robert co-wrote the Cambridge Pre-U specifications in Mathematics & Further Maths. He is a Senior Research Associate at the Thomas More Institute. Robert is originally from Merseyside.