Church has the right of approval

17th April 2009 at 01:00

What I find "hard to believe", in your correspondent's phrase last week, is that The TESS would publish an anonymous article which makes serious allegations about the supposed involvement of the Catholic Church in the appointment process of a particular council, without seeking comment from either the church or the council. So much for a balanced view.

When the state entered into a concordat with the church to manage Catholic schools "in the interests" of the church, it was agreed that the church would retain the right to approve the teachers appointed by education authorities. This guarantee, coupled with statutory authority over the content of religious education programmes, assured the Catholic community that the identity, mission and ethos of Catholic schools would be respected and supported.

This assurance continues today and has been re-stated on various occasions in recent times by First Minister Alex Salmond and Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop.

When parents choose to enrol their children in a Catholic school, they have a right to expect that it will provide an education informed by values which are faith-based and rooted in the Catholic tradition. Parents expect Catholic schools to have teachers who are committed to these values, teachers who are able to communicate the religious and moral teachings of Catholic Christianity, teachers who can be witnesses in faith and in life for young people.

The current approval system allows for the appropriate staffing of Catholic schools, including teachers who are not Catholic. Why is that so "hard to believe"?

Michael McGrath, director, Scottish Catholic Education Service, Craigpark, Glasgow.

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