SNP MP needs to publicly praise his local Catholic schools
This week’s editorial leader
Scottish National Party MP Tommy Sheppard’s comments on secular education will disturb many Catholic parents. Those with children at the excellent Catholics schools in his constituency, such as Holy Rood High and St John’s Primary, will question whether he will really be a champion for those schools and their pupils given his stated desire for them to no longer exist in their current form. It would be a nice gesture if Mr Sheppard was to show a public act of appreciation for those schools and their hard working staff to show that, despite his distaste for Catholic education, those within it are not second class citizens in his eyes. Certainly he could do with spending some time with his colleague Carol Monaghan.
Beyond Edinburgh many more will rightly think Mr Sheppard has let the cat out of the bag. The Humanist Society Scotland and their many allies in politics and the media seek to drive religion out of education. They don’t care about the huge benefits that Catholic schools bring to Scotland or the consistently excellent inspections. There’s is an ideological crusade; there is no argument they will listen to. But they recognise that there is little broader support for their mission, so as Mr Sheppard has helpfully spelled out, they seek bit by bit to chip away at the legitimacy of Catholic schools.
There are entitled to do so—although it’s hard to take their claims they seek equal treatment for all seriously when they engage in this sort of subterfuge. If Scotland decides the days of Catholic education are over then that will be the will of the people. But it should at least be done honestly.
Finally, while it was very welcome that the Scottish Government reaffirmed their support for faith schools and distanced themselves from Mr Sheppard’s comments, the First Minister should be wary.
Her predecessor, whatever his flaws, went out of his way to reassure the Catholic community they were welcome in Scotland, to praise Catholic schools. Ms Sturgeon has not made the same effort. That may well turn out to be a mistake.