Bishops rock the boat on national debate

IN a hard-hitting defence of its schools, the Catholic Church in Scotland has rejected the rationale of the national debate on education as inadequate and utilitarian.

The Church's submission to the debate was formulated by the Catholic Education Commission (CEC), principal advisory body to the Roman Catholic bishops in Scotland, following a conference at St Margaret's Academy in Livingstone last month.

The submission also hits out at the failure of the Scottish Parliament to include the Church as a partner in education. John Oates of the CEC commented: "Considering that almost 20 per cent of Scottish pupils are in Catholic schools, we do not consider that we are minor partners on the Scottish education scene."

Addressing the Scottish Executive's contention that the purpose of education is to prepare young people for a creative and productive working life, the commission says this goal is as "inadequate as it is merely utilitarian". It stresses the purposes of education as being to "form, inform and transform" as part of a faith-based education.

Mr Oates said the Church recognises that there is no such thing as a value-free education and that the curriculum of the school should be underpinned by a set of clearly stated values which permeate the life of the school. "In Catholic schools, these are Christian values."

The submission warns teachers that their lifestyles are an important example to young people in imparting values.

Mr Oates defended Catholic schools as "good for the Catholic community, good for Scottish society and good for Scottish education". The commission "totally rejects the view that Catholic schools are in any way disruptive of social inclusion".

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