Young staff quit Catholic schools

16th March 2001 at 00:00
YOUNG teachers are quitting Roman Catholic schools because they are unable to cope with the Church's "heavy-handed" attitude on morality and marriage, a London diocesan education officer has revealed.

He claimed that more and more young teachers were finding it difficult to cope with some of the theological aspects of working in Catholic education.

The officer told researchers from the University of North London that difficulties arose particularly "in issues relating to morality, marriage and so forth where the Church is inclined to be heavy-handed".

Academics conclude that when there were instances of marital breakdown or - in the eyes of the Church - "illicit" arrangements, teachers often quit.

No figures are given in their study but they say that just a third of newly-qualified teachers in Catholic schools are now Roman Catholics.

The research highlights the state of recruitment in both Anglican and Catholic churches - and the pluses and minuses of working in London.

It provides a snapshot of teacher supply and retention in the London boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Islington, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and Lewisham.

And it exposes a "strong Catholic mafia" with news of vacancies passed around by word of mouth as well as the jobs being advertised.

Deputies in line for promotion are often sent personal invitations for traning courses. One diocesan adviser with a list of deputies ready for promotion calculated he had filled six headships after phoning candidates and telling them to apply.

Some aspiring heads have had to undergo "double immersion" - the standard national preparation for the job and the diocesan-organised courses. Others have been rejected because, despite being practising Catholics, they could not "articulate the vision".

The research warns of difficulties in filling senior posts in both Catholic and Anglican schools.

It suggests that staffing in Church of England schools is not secure. It claims, too, that Anglican schools employ a significantly smaller proportion of non-white teachers than their council-run counterparts. Less than 8 per cent of teachers in C of E primaries are from black, Asian or other backgrounds compared with almost 12 per cent in other schools in the same education authorities.

Tom Peryer, director of the London diocesan board of education, said the sample had been small.

He added: "Given that the Church of England at the very least would expect teachers in its schools to be sympathetic to the Christian ethos, this would be an issue for some Asian teachers and those from Muslim and Hindu backgrounds.

"It's not really surprising then, that the number of teachers from those groups is lower than that at county schools."

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