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Lib Dems to consider adopting policy to end Catholic education in Scotland

The Church and several LD party members have condemned the motion. — By Ryan McDougall

The Scottish Liberal Democrats will discuss adopting a policy to end Catholic education in Scotland at their conference this Saturday—though some in the party will seek to defeat the proposal.

A motion to be discussed at the conference will call on the Scottish Government to ‘pursue a single secular model of state-funded education,’ ‘remove religious belief as a placing criteria for Scottish state funded schools,’ ‘remove faith as a criteria for selecting or recommending teachers for employment or promotion,’ and ‘remove the non-elected church positions from local authority education boards and replace with elected positions open to residents residing in the local authority.’

Teachers in Catholic schools currently need approval from the local bishop, while some over-subscribed Catholic schools prioritise pupils with a Baptism certificate.

Local authority education boards are currently required to reserve three places for religious representatives.

Ahead of the conference, Paisley Liberal Democrat councillor Eileen McCartin, a Catholic and former president of the party, told the SCO she and others plan to challenge the motion, which will be heard on Saturday, September 8.

Ms McCartin has previously condemned criticism of Faith schools, stating that ‘Catholic education is quality education, and it’s here to stay, as long as the Catholic communities want them.’

She said that she and several of her peers will be speaking ‘very positively’ about the role of Catholic schools in Scottish communities’ at the conference and that they hope to fight the divisions surrounding the subject within the party.

The Church in Scotland has condemned the Liberal Democrat move, and criticised the party for avoiding using the word Catholic in their motion. All but three denominational schools in Scotland are Catholic.

A spokesperson for the Church said: “This deeply illiberal motion shows contempt for religious freedom and discriminates against parents who choose to send their children to Catholic schools.

“Strangely, whilst specifically targeting Catholics and Catholicism, a minority population in Scotland, the motion fails to use the word ‘Catholic’ at all.”

The Scottish Lib Dems currently have five MSPs and and four MPs. The party was in government in Scotland in a coalition with the Labour Party from 1999-2007, and formed a coalition with the Conservative Party in the UK Government from 2010-2015.

Members of the Scottish Liberal Democrats who are in favour of Catholic schools have said they plan to release a full statement after the conference.





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