BY Peter Diamond | November 23 2018 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Deputy First Minister praises value of Christ’s message in schools as increase in Catholic teacher numbers is revealed

John Swinney says education based on the teaching of Jesus can equip children with 'goodness, resilience and strength.'

The centenary of state-funded Catholic schools was celebrated in Edinburgh last week with the announcement that there has been a 23 per cent increase in the number of Catholic teachers in Scotland in the last year.

Deputy First Minster John Swinney made the comments during a celebration of the Education (Scotland) Act 1918 at Edinburgh Castle, where he told the SCO that the teaching of Jesus in schools helps equip young people with the goodness, the resilience and the strength for life.

Wednesday November 21 marks the centenary of the act which brought Catholic schools into the state system. Ahead of that anniversary, the Scottish Government hosted the Catholic Church and schools on November 14, with the deputy first minister addressing pupils, teachers, the Nuncio of Great Britain and Scotland’s bishops in the Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle.

Mr Swinney welcomed and thanked those who had made it on a blustery evening and thanked the Episcopal Primus, Bishop Mark Strange and Rabbi Rubin of Giffnock Synagogue who were also there to celebrate their schools during inter-faith week. There are three Episcopalian schools in Scotland and one Jewish.



The Deputy First Minister said: “I was saying to some people as I arrived tonight that it seems that most of these events in the Catholic tradition have been marred by inclement weather.

“The wind was too strong for the schools Mass in June, when of course Scottish weather should be calm and finite, and here we are in November and you’d be forgiven for thinking the castle was about to blow away.

“But it doesn’t darken or dampen our spirits and enthusiasm to commemorate this significant occasion because the statutory framework which has been developed 100 years ago for the congregation of Catholic education into the Scottish education system has sustained in partnership between the Catholic Church and within Scotland, guaranteeing a comprehensive right to publically fund an education for young people in the Catholic tradition and protecting the denominational character and ethos of these schools.”


No intention to change

The cabinet Secretary for Education reiterated the government stance that it has ‘absolutely no intention of changing the current position’ where Faith aspects of the curriculum of Catholic schools is determined by the Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES).

The success of the partnership between the government and Glasgow University was also highlighted as Mr Swinney revealed that there are 320 new students expected to achieve the Catholic teaching certificate in 2018 and 397 students undertaking the certificate in 2019.

Mr Swinney said: “There are many challenges that we often face in Scottish Education and we hope to address many of those challenges.

“We have a very strong partnership with the University of Glasgow in relation to developing and increasing the Catholic Education Teaching certificate and we have partnerships with five other professional teaching universities in supporting this objective.”

He added: “If we can increase Catholic teachers going through the education system by 23 per cent in one go I will take that as a hearty achievement of our ongoing work.”


Good for Scotland

When asked by the SCO in the Grand Hall of Edinburgh Castle why Catholic schools were good and how teaching children about Jesus Christ benefits Scottish schools, the Deputy First Minister said: “Catholic schools I feel are an essential part of our education system.

“They deliver education, anchored within values and that values based education is very visible within Catholic schools and a really welcome part of the education approach.

“It is a choice for individuals to make, and my wife and I have made the choice that our son will be educated within that tradition.

“And that matters to us because we believe he will have an education based on the teaching of Jesus, and we think that will equip him with the goodness, the resilience and the strength he needs for his life.”



When asked what the message to secularists who criticise state funding of Faith schools in Scotland, Mr Swinney said: “I think we’ve got all the evidence that demonstrates that there is strength and quality in the Catholic education system.

“From the Scottish Government’s perspective we feel that it’s important that parents have the opportunity to send their children to Catholic schools. We’ll continue that tradition and it’s a vital part of the quality of the education system.”

The Nuncio of Great Britain Archbishop Edward Adams had travelled from the Apostolic Nunciature in London to witness and speak at the historic landmark in Edinburgh Castle.

Archbishop Adams said: “We are here to share the joy of our Catholic community in Scotland as it recalls the Education Act of 1918. It is a happy and important anniversary for the Catholics of this country and I would say for all Scots.”

The Nuncio expressed that the ‘extraordinary educational partnership’ that has developed a concept since over the last 100 years ‘has been good for all.’

He added that the teaching of the Gospels in schools addresses every form of poverty in society.

Archbishop Adams added: “Catholic education seems to nourish each generation not only by cultural and technical notions but also and above all by love and we can say by the love that is the message within the Gospel of Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.

“It is precisely this type of education which takes to heart and addresses every type of poverty among young people; moral, physical and above all spiritual, that spiritual poverty, which is the root of every serious human problem.

“So with these sentiments and as the representative of Pope Francis in this country I offer to all who are celebrating the centenary of the Education Act of 1918, congratulations, greetings and the blessing of the Pope.”



Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow said: “I want to offer a word of thanks and appreciation to cabinet secretary for education John Swinney and the Scottish government for providing this wonderful reception in this magnificent hall for this our celebration of the centenary of the 1918 Education Act.

“I’m also very pleased to see representatives of other Faith traditions here and one of their schools.

“I was with Bishop Mark Strange, Primus for Scottish Episcopal Church yesterday and Rabbi Ruben of Giffnock Synagogue at an inter-faith event and we were talking about the importance of Faith communities to our civic society in Scotland and our schools are a particular example of that.

“The 1918 Education Act was an incredibly visionary settlement and it was based on social justice for community.

“We are delighted that the Scottish Government sees that this settlement is important, not just for Catholic community, which has thrived, but also for Scotland.

“Catholic schools are good for Scotland, and we’re grateful to the government for their assurance of support.”




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