BY Daniel Harkins | June 8 2018 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

1--STURGEON

Sturgeon: Catholic schools shaped modern Scotland

First Minister praises Catholic ethos in Education Act centenary lecture

The creation of state-funded Catholic schools helped ‘shape modern Scotland for the better,’ the First Minister said on June 2.

Nicola Sturgeon was giving the annual Cardinal Winning Lecture in Bute Hall at Glasgow University. 2018 is the centenary year of the Catholic Education (Scotland) Act that brought Catholic schools into the state system.

Mrs Sturgeon (right) said the act was a ‘national success story’ and a ‘very courageous and far-sighted compromise’ between the Church and state ‘with very few parallels elsewhere.’

“When you consider the immense contribution the Catholic community as a whole has made to Scotland in the last century, it seems to me to be inarguable that the settlement arrived at in 1918 is one which brought benefits, not just to the Catholic Faith, but to all of us.”

She said her main message to the assembled Catholic audience was simple: “The Scottish Government is an unequivocal supporter of Catholic schools. We value the contribution that Catholic schools make to modern Scotland. We want that contribution to continue in the years ahead.”

 

Strength

The First Minister said ‘we should acknowledge and appreciate… the strength and vigour of the Catholic schools sector.’

“100 years on from the Education Act, you are an important and valued part of Scottish life,” she said. “So it is absolutely right that we mark the centenary of that act. As we do so, we should celebrate the progress the legislation enabled. We should appreciate the contribution Catholic education makes to modern Scotland. And we should endeavour to work even harder to raise standards in Catholic schools and all schools.”

 

‘Catholic ethos’

The Cardinal Winning Lecture—named after the late Glasgow archbishop—is hosted each year by the St Andrew’s Foundation for Catholic Teacher Education at the University of Glasgow, with previous addresses delivered by Alex Salmond, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, and Archbishop Rino Fisichella. During her speech, Nicola Sturgeon also praised the ‘ethos’ of Catholic schools which encourages pupils to ‘care and have compassion.’

She said that from her experience in visiting Catholic schools, they concentrate not just on the academic but also on ‘developing the person.’

She highlighted St Albert’s Primary School in her Southside constituency, pointing out that many of its pupils are Muslim and saying it was evidence that ‘educating people in a way which is compatible with the Catholic Faith and Catholic values doesn’t isolate them—it goes hand in hand with encouraging and enabling them to contribute to their wider community.’

Mrs Sturgeon also briefly addressed LGBTI issues in Catholic schools, announcing that the Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES) will from the start of next term ‘offer resources that focus on LGBTI matters at every stage of a child’s time in school’ and that SCES and the Catholic headteachers’ associations for primary and secondary schools have established a working group to ‘develop learning and teaching resources that focus on prejudice-based bullying.’

Cardinal Winning, Mrs Sturgeon said, was a ‘tireless crusader for people who were poor, vulnerable or marginalised’ and she said she always respected his ‘passion for social justice, and his advocacy of the Catholic Faith.’

The First Minister twice quoted St Pope John Paul II, concluding her speech with the Pope’s address to Scotland’s young people that they were ‘the pride of your beloved country and the promise of its bright future.’

In his response to the lecture, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia said he was grateful for the First Minister’s assurances that the ‘visionary and unique settlement of the 1918 Education Act, far from being under threat, is valued and appreciated by the Scottish Government.’

 

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