BY Peter Diamond | November 30 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

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Scottish delegation celebrates 100 years of Catholic education with Westminster friends

ONE HUNDRED years of Catholic state education in Scotland was marked on Wednesday, November 21, when Church leaders travelled to Westminster to celebrate the assent of the 1918 Education Act with cross-party political supporters.

A delegation from the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, led by Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow, President of the Catholic Education Commission, Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh and Mrs Barbara Coupar, director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES) travelled to London to meet David Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland, celebrate Mass at the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster and attend a reception hosted by Patrick Grady MP.

Ahead of the visit, Archbishop Tartaglia said: “The Education (Scotland) Act of 1918, which brought Catholic schools into the public provision of education, was a visionary piece of legislation which gave the Catholic community both social justice and the incentive to create an educational culture fuelled and sustained by the energy and light of Faith.

“This has been and continues to be greatly to the good of the young people of Scotland and of Scottish society as a whole.”


Political recognition

The event, hosted by Patrick Grady MP, attracted many fellow MPs and members of the House of Lords from all parties and marked a historic day in what has been an incredible year for Catholic education in Scotland.

Mr Grady later tweeted that he was “delighted to host Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, Archbishop Leo Cushley and Barbara Coupar in Westminster to celebrate the centenary of Catholic education in Scotland looking at the positive impact Catholic schools have had over the last 100 years.”

The Education (Scotland) Act 1918 made provision for Catholic schools to become part of the state system of education, respecting the right of Catholic schools to retain their own Catholic ethos.

Earlier in the day the delegation met the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, at Dover House, where they presented him a ‘Jesus Our Teacher’ Icon in commemoration of the Act.


‘Huge Pleasure’

Mr Grady, MP for Glasgow North and former SCIAF employee, said: “It was a huge pleasure to welcome Archbishops Cushley and Tartaglia, members of the SCES team and representatives of the wider Scottish Catholic education community to Westminster, 100 years to the day that the Education (Scotland) Act 1918 received royal assent.

“The delegation was able to participate in the regular Wednesday evening Mass in the Crypt Chapel of Westminster Hall, with Archbishop Tartaglia celebrating; special thanks go to Parliament’s Catholic duty priest, Canon Pat Browne for facilitating this.

“Earlier in the day some of the group had watched Prime Minister’s Questions from the special galleries and enjoyed an informal lunch in Portcullis House.

“The archbishops were also presented with special copies of the Early Day Motion lodged in the House of Commons earlier this year to mark the anniversary.

“It was also very good of David Mundell to make time to meet with the delegation.”

Mr Grady added that UK Education Secretary Damian Hinds MP also sent his best wishes for the reception.

“All of this demonstrated the widespread and cross-party support for Catholic education in Scotland,” Mr Grady said.


Good for Scotland

Mr Grady also referred to the Cardinal Winning Lecture given earlier this year by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Quoting her, Mr Grady said: “‘We value the contribution that Catholic schools make to modern Scotland. We want that contribution to continue in the years ahead.’”

The MP, who is a Catholic and attended a Faith school, added: “The theme of the anniversary year has been ‘Catholic Schools—Good for Scotland’, and that has certainly been my experience, from my formative years at St Joseph’s Primary in Inverness, to seeing the contribution of the Catholic primaries and secondaries to the life and community of my Glasgow North constituency.

“There have been many wonderful celebrations throughout the anniversary year, and this was an important opportunity to mark the occasion in the very place where the Act was agreed 100 years ago.”

After the Westminster reception, SCES expressed their gratitude online to all who were involved. Barbara Coupar said: “[It was] a great day at Westminster marking the centenary of the day the 1918 Education (Scotland) Act.

“Many thanks to Patrick Grady MP and his office for arranging our visit; to all the parliamentarians and other friends and colleagues who joined us, and to Canon Browne for inviting us to join the Catholic community of Westminster for Mass.”

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