BY Daniel Harkins | April 13 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Model yourself on Christ, Catholic teachers are told

‘Catholic teachers must model themselves on Christ and teach the whole person,’ was the message given at an international education conference hosted by Glasgow University.

The Association of Catholic Institutes of Education (ACISE) brought teachers from across the world to the university to hear from leading figures in education.

The event was hosted by the St Andrew’s Foundation for Catholic Teacher Education, located in the School of Education at Glasgow University.

Keynote speaker Dr Maureen Glackin, head of the school of education, theology and leadership at the Catholic St Mary’s University in London, painted a stark picture of teaching in the UK.

She said there had been a 21 per cent drop in secondary school teaching applicants in England and Wales in the last year, and a 36 per cent drop for primary schools.

There is chronic shortage of RE teachers, with only 405 vacancies recently filled, far short of a target of 643, she said.

Only 61 per cent of Catholic primary school teachers south of the border are Catholic, and only 41 per cent of secondary school teachers. Just five per cent of teachers in Catholic secondary schools have achieved a Catholic teaching certificate.

However, she said that research shows that the education profession is good at recruiting teachers who see their career as a vocation—giving Catholic schools an advantage.

“The prime drive of teaching is vocational,” she said. “For the Catholic educator we must model ourselves on Christ.”

Faith witness brings the content of religious teaching to life, she added, saying that the effective Catholic educator is someone who ‘grows the whole person.’

“They must be teachers of what it is to be human,” she said. “This is what [pupils] want: to find themselves.”

Dr Glackin also said teachers do not necessarily need to be Catholic to be good RE teachers, saying she had met many a terrible RE teacher who was strong in their Faith. And she urged senior leaders in schools to continue teaching in classrooms as it keeps them grounded.

70 people attended the three-day conference. Also speaking at the event was Professor of political and social philosophy at the University of Basque Country Daniel Innerarity, and vice-principal of Glasgow University Professor James Conroy. Mr Innerarity spoke on ‘Towards a Truly Inclusive Democracy,’ while Mr Conroy spoke on ‘Religious Education: An Important Challenge, a Pressing Imperative.’

Mass was celebrated throughout the conference, including by Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, president of the Scottish Catholic ­Education Service, on Wednesday, April 4 (above).

Leonardo Franchi from Glasgow University’s School of Education said: “We were delighted at the quality of presentations and the level of international participation.

“For a few days, Glasgow became a major centre of Catholic thinking on education! I said at the start of the conference that any gathering on Catholic education had to be centred on three things: good Liturgy, high academic standards and fine hospitality. Hopefully we managed to achieve all three.’

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