Head teacher savours first year at helm of St Edward's

Stephen Morris in profile

It is no surprise to hear a principal sing the praises of their school. Yet when Stephen Morris, reflecting on his first term at the helm of St Edward's College, describes the Liverpool school as "unique", this is no mere soundbite.

After all, as a man who had his own schooling at Hereford Cathedral School and arrived in Liverpool after eight years as head of Llandaff Cathedral School in Cardiff, he can speak with some authority about what makes his new school different. "St Edward's College is unique," he begins. "It is the only secondary Catholic cathedral school in England."

And for this Catholic convert, the factor of faith brings a "distinctiveness" worth cherishing, as he explains: "These are schools that were founded not to be secular schools with crosses on the wall but actually to be schools that promote a Catholic worldview because central to their life are the scriptures and prayer and the holy Mass. There is a great joy at encountering that distinctiveness and, on my part, a determination that it should always be renewed and treasured."

St Edward's relationship with the Metropolitan Cathedral certainly helps to maintain this, and leads, he adds, to "a very strong sense of Catholicity ... a sense of being deeply part of the mission of the Church".

Additionally, of course, it provides a wonderful platform for learning for its 36 choristers. "It gives a musical excellence. After all, we have boy and girl choristers plus retired choristers who form their own choir, who've been creating liturgical music of the very highest standard and doing it at an amazing rate. No sooner do they finish with one thing then a few hours later they are performing the next, so there is a very high degree of professionalism and endeavour."

Those who attended a Christmas service at the Cathedral will likely concur, and Stephen continues: "What cathedral schools generally do is quite extraordinary and I think you would not find anything quite like it anywhere else in the world."

There is something else which appeals to the Theology graduate, whose CV includes spells teaching at four independent schools – Bedford School, Brentwood School and Reading Blue Coat School as well as Llandaff in Cardiff. "Because this is an academy rather than an independent school," he explains, "there is a joy in not having to charge fees to parents to attend and to benefit from this fantastic education. The fact we have a much wider range of abilities and types of child is great."

Stephen is a father of three boys himself and, with his wife Becky, he is enjoying life beyond the school gate too as the family get to know their new surroundings. "Liverpool is a very warm place and welcoming. I think it has great sense of its own distinctiveness and a pride in that, which is wonderful, and a sense of being outward-looking as well."

They are a family who became Catholics in 2011, inspired by Pope Benedict XVI's visit to this country. Previously an Anglican, Stephen says: "There is a clarity in the Catholic Church over some of the issues that other Churches spend a great deal of time thinking and worrying about." He was drawn, he goes on, by the "continuity" and "authority" offered by the Church, and now has his own opportunity to help sustain these virtues at one of Liverpool's great schools.