BY Peter Diamond | August 16 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

4 schools

Conservatives to vote against Green attack on Catholic schools as key decision hangs in the balance

A vote which could undermine Catholic education in Edinburgh City will meet opposition from Conservative councillors, the SCO understands, though the Church has stressed that parents must keep up pressure ahead of the final decision.

The Catholic Church has said they are encouraged that a number of councillors in Edinburgh intend to oppose a motion to remove voting rights for church representatives on education committees.

The Scottish Conservative group in Edinburgh told the SCO they intend to oppose the motion put forward by the Green Party, while a Labour councillor suggested the party may call for a ‘pause’ on the decision.

 

Final wording

Callum Laidlaw, education spokesman for Conservative group, said: “We will wait to see the final wording of the motion next week but we expect it will remain the same. If so, the Conservative Party will be proposing to keep voting rights on the committee.”

Earlier this year, Perth and Kinross Council became the first local authority in Scotland to remove the voting rights.

Councillor Laidlaw said he understands that Catholic reps only vote on issues which affect Catholic schools.

 

‘Key player’ in education

“The Catholic Church is a key player in delivering education in Edinburgh and that is absolutely something we support and as a key player they should have the right to represent their communities and schools on decisions which affect them,” he said.

“I have had a lot of good correspondence from the general Catholic population who have expressed their concerns about this motion.”

The Catholic Church has welcomed the decision but urged parents and parishioners to continue voicing their concerns.

 

Encouragement

Barbara Coupar, director of Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES), said: “We are encouraged to hear some councillors in Edinburgh have decided to oppose this motion.

“However, not everyone has responded to their constituents to say that they will vote against the proposal.

“There is still time to contact your local councillor, Many are willing to listen and act on your behalf, but they can only do so if you get in touch.

“The postcards are still available from your local parish, or you can phone or email your councillor directly, letting them know that the church representative on the education committee is vital for the Catholic community.”

 

Removing Faith education

Last month Archbishop Leo Cushley described the motion as ‘the first step in a process to remove faith education from schools in Scotland altogether.’

The Labour Party who are currently in coalition with the SNP at Edinburgh City Council, have also revealed they intend to propose the debate is ‘paused.’

 

Scott Arthur

Labour councillor for Fairmilehead, Scott Arthur, said: “The Labour group are going to argue that this entire debate be taken offline in order to invite Faith groups and those of no faith to hold discussions with the council and engage with each other in order to ease tensions.

“In some quarters the debate has been quite sour and the Catholic Faith has been characterised in such a way that isn’t actually fair.

“It is also damaging that so much of this debate has been played out within the media and for that reason we believe the council has to press pause on this issue.

“The Archbishop’s letter was clear that they want a say into how Catholic education is run in Edinburgh so we should have that discussion before any decision is taken on the matter.

“I have received about 30 to 40 correspondences from concerned constituents who wish for education representation of Faith groups to remain the status quo.”

 

Lib Dem support

The SCO understand the Liberal Democrats will support the Green Party motion.

Edinburgh City Council has 17 Conservative councillors, 17 SNP, 11 Labour, eight Green, six Liberal Democrats, and four Independents.

The motion will be put to a vote on Thursday August 22.

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