Letters extra: Catholic conundrum

16th May 2003 at 01:00
It is with little surprise but much frustration that I have just read of the difficulties in recruiting heads and deputies in Roman Catholic Schools.

I am a practising Roman Catholic who was educated in Catholic primary and secondary schools and attended a Catholic College of Education from which I obtained a Catholic Teacher's Certificate (RE qualification) in addition to my teaching qualification. To date, I have taught in non-catholic primary schools and have gained a wide range of experience and professional development, culminating in the recent award of NPQH via the 'fast track' route.

I am currently applying for headships but, unfortunately, I am not "allowed" to be head of a Catholic School. I was advised of this 'ban' by the then Birmingham Diocesan director of education, who informed me (when I was applying for deputy headship in Catholic schools) that in spite of the excellence of my application, experience and qualifications, the fact that I had never taught in a Catholic school was an incontrovertible contra-indication. I was sorely aggrieved and tested the water again recently when I applied for two headships. The situation remains unchanged. I am not a 'fair weather' catholic - I am a committed and active member of my parish, well-known to my parish priest. Perhaps things would be different if I were a divorcee, or even a non-practising catholic already in the catholic school sector (yes, there are quite a few!). I recently sent for details of the headship of a local Jewish school and, ironically, its governing body would "warmly welcome" my application.

I read with interest that in some cases diocesan authorities are appointing non-Catholic heads to work under the guidance of neighbouring Catholic heads! Are two heads really better than one? The Catholic education Service must get its act together before it's labelled as the Janus of the current recruitment crisis.

Maureen Hinckley

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