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7-TEACHER

Primary headteachers discuss the future of Catholic education

Primary headteachers from across Scotland gathered for the annual Catholic Primary Headteachers Association (CHAPS) conference, where they took part in two days of events exploring the theme of ‘Catholic Schools: Good for Scotland.’

The conference focused on two areas: the idea of serving the common good, and exploring the impact of the 1918 Education Act, which brought Catholic schools into the state system.

Delegates meet at the Fairmont St Andrews Hotel on September 7 where they prepared to hear from the line-up of interesting speakers.

All joined for the opening prayer of the conference, before hearing from Bishop John Keenan of Paisley, who ­commended the work of Catholic educators and schools.

The group of about 200 headteachers and 20 or so invited guests then heard from Leonard Franchi and Raymond McCluskey from the school of education at Glasgow University, who spoke on the history of Catholic education in Scotland and the impact it has left on today’s society. Mr Franchi and Mr McCluskey made reference to the work of the Sisters of Notre Dame and their outstanding work in Catholic education, and illustrated to the current headteachers, with an age gap of almost 30 years between some, that there is still a lot to think about and a lot to do with regards to Catholic education.

Isabelle Boyd CBE, the assistant chief executive of North Lanarkshire Council and former chair of the Catholic Headteachers Association of Scotland (CHAS), then gave a presentation on the Catholic dimensions within schools, adding a personal point of view by exploring this through the lens of her long career in education.

An update on the work of the Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES) was then given by director Barbara Coupar, before those gathered took part in a workshop.

This allowed headteachers to evaluate the Catholicity of schools in Scotland, using an evaluation tool put together by SCES and some CHAPS members, celebrating success at Catholic schools while working within the existing system.

Mass was concelebrated by Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow and Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh, with the chair of CHAPS James McCrory noting the conference was ‘very blessed’ to have three bishops attending, and to have had ‘great support’ from the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland.

The day’s events ended with the first of two panel discussions from heads of service, with questions afterwards.

The following day began with morning prayer before Andrew Morley gave a lecture on Catholic education, particularly in connecting with people, which was ‘very well received.’

After a second discussion panel, David Wells, a catechist and author, took to the floor. He inspired his listeners with a presentation on Catholic education, being a ‘man of strong Christian conviction’ who was able to get this across in an engaging, funny, and at times emotional way.

“I think the conference was a great success this year,” CHAPS chair James McCrory said. “It certainly brought an awful lot of positive responses.”

He added that many left feeling ‘inspired and motivated.’

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