Scottish Parliament to debate the “Positive Contribution of Catholic Schools”
Monday 25 November 2019
The Scottish Parliament will tomorrow Tuesday 26th November 2019 debate Motion S5M-19246, on the Positive Contribution of Catholic Schools to Scotland. The motion proposed by Elaine Smith, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, states that
“the Parliament recognises the positive contribution that Catholic schools have made to Scotland’s education system, in particular since the historic Education (Scotland) Act 1918 came into force, when the schools became part of the state education system in return for, among other things, the right to retain their Catholic ethos; acknowledges what it sees as the contribution and the positive impact that it believes that this has had on society; considers that denominational schools continue to play a vital role in Scottish education”
The motion which has already received cross party support, also states;
“that sectarianism predates the existence of Catholic schools and that they are not a cause of it and instead they contribute to an open, tolerant, diverse and inclusive education system in Central Scotland and across the country; considers that anti-Catholicism has no place in Scotland, and acknowledges the calls that it must be challenged in all its forms.”
Commenting ahead of the debate, Elaine Smith said:
“Given the evident increase in intolerance towards the Catholic Community in Scotland, it is important that the Scottish Parliament leads the way in fully supporting and recognising the beneficial contribution of Catholic Education, and ensures that faith schools will be a valued part of our education system for the foreseeable future.”
Responding to the motion, Director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service, Barbara Coupar said:
"Between the feasts of St Margaret, Queen of Scotland, and St Andrew, Catholic schools are celebrating how they promote Gospel values in their local communities and across Scottish society. It is fitting that our elected members join in marking Catholic Education Week to share their experiences of the positive contribution the Catholic schools in their constituencies make.
MSPs have a unique opportunity in this member's debate to be present and to add their voice to those publicly challenging the untruths that Catholic education cause segregation and separation. In doing so they'll show those who choose Catholic education, from all faiths and none, that they support them in their choice."
Catholic Media Office
5 St. Vincent Place
Tel: 0141 221 1168
Mob: 07968 122291
ISDN: 0141 204 4956
Note to Editors:
This debate takes place during Catholic Education Week 2019, the theme of which is ‘Promoting Gospel Values’.
CATHOLIC EDUCATION IN SCOTLAND
Current pupil population of Catholic schools in Scotland:
Primary School 72,926;
Secondary including Independent and ASL 51,610
Education (Scotland) Act 1918 – enshrined in law a historic concordat between the Catholic community and the state. Catholic schools (there were 224 at the time) transferred into the public provision of education and in return:
Guaranteed state funding
Statutory right to retain distinct Catholic ethos and identity; the right to define the distinctive culture and virtues of the Catholic school
Teachers require Church approval regarding “religious belief and character”
The Catholic community paid for the land and the building of over 60% of the schools we have today.
Scotland is home to an open, tolerant, diverse, inclusive system of education, reflecting the right of parents to choose an education for their children which responds to their convictions. With this system of education, Scotland is a welcoming place for denominational schools. It is democracy in action in the provision of education.
The choice to send a child to a state funded faith school is a choice that is present in over 100 countries across the world.
State funded faith schools are an indication of the state of a nation – they are the thermometer of a healthy democracy. They are a sign of an inclusive society that embraces diversity and a country where freedom of choice and speech are part of the culture.
Articles 28 and 29 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that everyone has the right to an education, that it shall be free (at least in the early stages), that it should be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Article 2 of the First Protocol of the Human Rights Act states that ‘no person shall be denied the right to an education’ and that ‘the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.’
THE ETHOS OF A CATHOLIC EDUCATION
A Catholic education respects the role of parents as first educators; a right that is essential, original and primary, irreplaceable and inalienable. Yet parents are not the only educators of their children; their responsibility to educate is done in co-operation with others.
The four values of Catholic Social Teaching should play a significant part in the life of every Catholic school; the values of truth, love, justice and freedom.
Earlier this year official figures revealed that Catholic schools are more likely to educate pupils living in deprived areas and at the same time are more likely to hit government exam targets compared to non-denominational schools.
Twenty per cent of schoolchildren in Scotland attend Catholic schools. Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and those of no faith choose Catholic schools for their children’s education. Catholics schools are appealing beyond the Catholic community.
EQUALITY AND INCLUSION EDUCATION
Catholic schools welcome all their students as members of their school community. This is evident in the way that all are valued, treated with respect and encouraged to participate fully in the life of the school. While Catholic schools must be aware of their duty to promote the distinctive beliefs, values and practices of the Catholic community, they are expected to bear witness to this attitude of respect for, and appreciation of, all people.
Schools must also operate within the terms of current legislation to ensure an atmosphere where all members of the community can feel safe in learning what it means to live and learn with others, including those who may not share their faith.