BY Peter Diamond | May 18 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Deputy First Minister says Scotland’s education system can learn from the values of Catholic schools

John Swinney: Catholic education provides young people with resilience

Scotland’s education system can learn from the foundations and values provided by Catholic schools, Deputy First Minister John Swinney told the Catholic Headteachers Association Scotland (CHAS) conference last week.

MSP John Swinney, cabinet secretary for education, addressed the annual meeting where Scotland’s Catholic headteachers meet up with various church education agencies and clergy including Archbishops Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh and Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow.

Nicola Sturgeon’s deputy was quick to champion the great work and service that goes on across Catholic Schools in Scotland and paid tribute to 100 years of the Education Act that brought Catholic schools into the state system.

Mr Swinney, said: “The Catholic tradition gives young people the foundations, the values and the attitudes to help work out what on earth five years in the future is going to look like and how they can relate to it based on deeply set personal and Christian values.

“That’s what the education system has to achieve across the board for young people and that won’t be achieved by prescription from me, it will be achieved by inspiration from the teaching profession.

“I’m here to give you the absolute assurance of the commitment of the government to maintain the Catholic education tradition in the years to come.”

Mr Swinney (above) added: “The First Minster is looking forward to deliver the Cardinal Winning speech on June 2 and there she will say more on the most senior government platform the significance that we attach to the Catholic education system and the protection of that system within Scottish education.”

A number of events have yet to take place in 2018 to celebrate the centenary of Catholic education as part of the state in Scotland.

The Caritas awards and national schools Mass both take place next month before an event at Edinburgh Castle which the deputy first minister hopes to attend.

Mr Swinney said: “These are all occasions where we can come together as a government and as a Catholic church with our schools network around the country to recognise publically and openly the significant and valued contribution that Catholic education has made to the fabric of Scottish society.”

The deputy first minister said that his son Matthew attends a Catholic primary school and he has first-hand knowledge of the meaningful contribution to society by Catholic education.

“I can see the ethos the values and the substance and guidance of the Catholic Faith being conveyed in such a meaningful way to young people within our society,” Mr Swinney said. “Providing them with one approach to make sure they have the resilience and are equipped to deal with the pressures and challenges of modern life.”

Prior to Mr Swinney’s speech, Archbishop Cushley led a prayer service which included a reading from Corinthians (1:26-29), something the deputy First Minister touched upon in his speech.

He said: “I think our reading this morning was very appropriate to reflect on at the conference of Catholic headteachers in Scotland because your calling is something on which our country depends.

“Because what you do, what you’re able to lead, what you’re able to shape, is the future of our country and nobody else can do it apart from you, and your colleagues in schools across Scotland.”

One headteacher, Christopher Smith of Our lady of St Patrick’s High School in Dumbarton, questioned the deputy first minister after his speech, asking what the government will do when societies and political parties try to discredit and question the Catholic education system in Scotland.

Mr Swinney said: “I would be very happy to share publicly and openly the type of contribution I’ve made here at the conference this morning.

“That is a message that I think has to be heard and reflected within Scotland. You will hear that when the First Minister delivers the Cardinal Winning lecture—she will be reflecting on many of the same themes and topics in the contribution that she makes there and also in wider questions in relation to education.

“In the year that we have to mark the enormous contribution that Catholic education has made to Scotland I think it is essential to reinforce the strapline that SCES selected to mark this year that ‘Catholic Schools Good for Scotland.’

“There is a simplicity about that but it simply captures the essential contribution that they are making towards this country —they are good for Scotland—and is something I heartedly endorse on behalf of the government.”

Following the speech, Archbishop Tartaglia thanked Mr Swinney for his warm words of support for Catholic schools.

The archbishop said: “I just want to say that we are very gratified by your supportive and appreciative comments on the Catholic education system and its tradition.

“We are grateful for it, we think we’ve earned it as well and we look forward to it being sustained into the future.”

Jokingly, the archbishop added: “I just hope that the message of yours and the First Minister’s and your government filters down into political and civic society in Scotland soon, and if not soon, eventually. And if not eventually, sometime before the Second Coming!”

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