'Approval' to teach denied

Anne McShane

In last week's article on the Catholic Church's right to "approve" the fitness of teachers to work in denominational schools, you referred to my own case, McShane v GCC. I would like to make the following points.

I had never been told I was being placed in St Thomas Aquinas to support my professional development. I was told by the personnel department it was because there was nowhere else. I believed it was supernumerary. It was a routine placement.

I was also told that personnel could place me in the school for two weeks while I sought approval. I asked the priest in my mother's parish, to which she had belonged for 40 years, but he said he did not know me and that to gain approval you had to be actively involved in the mass and with the liturgy.

I was placed in St Thomas Aquinas in January 2010 and immediately told the depute head of the situation. The head informed me that I had to seek Catholic approval by 28 January. When I explained why the priest would not give approval, he said the priest was wrong and he only needed to see me at mass to qualify. He also told me that non-practising Catholics can apply for approval on the application form, giving a lay person's reference such as a lawyer's.

I took his advice but my application was turned down. The Archdiocese said I could not provide a reference from my parish priest confirming my attendance at mass. My lawyer described me as a Catholic on the form, but I believe this related to my previous history. I appealed against the decision and my request was refused.

I had taught in Catholic schools for 15 years and had never been asked to seek approval. I had voluntarily sought it when applying for a permanent job some years previously, and had won approval from a former priest of my mother's parish.

Anne McShane, Glasgow.

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Anne McShane

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