Bishop Joseph Devine, Bishop of Motherwell, responds to North Lanarkshire Council's proposals for Education to 2010.
"While I recognise the need for North Lanarkshire Council to rationalise the provision of Catholic education due to falling rolls, the proposals of the council for Education to 2010 concern me in a number of areas:
Firstly, neither the concerns of the Diocese nor the responses of parents to the consultation exercise have been sufficiently acknowledged by the council. In particular, while I recognise that the council supports the Catholic communityÃ‚ ¹s preference for a free-standing Catholic secondary school in Coatbridge, I feel that the question of the location has still to be resolved and should be done so by agreement with all of the parents concerned.
I support the parents of Chapelhall in their wish to have a newly built, free-standing school to provide Catholic education. This support is founded on demographically and economically valid reasons. Where I have agreed to shared campus primary schools, I have done so for demographic, educational and economic reasons.
Finally, the soon-to-be-opened shared campus in Cumbernauld does not meet the requirements for respecting and promoting the ethos and vision of Catholic education. Nor does it give due consideration to respecting the identity and contribution of both schools working side-by-side. Therefore, it should not be presented as a model for the shared campus schools in the Diocese of Motherwell. The Diocese will provide the council with detailed objections to the current arrangements in due course.
I trust that North Lanarkshire Council will endeavour to find a more suitable plan for any shared campus schools in the Diocese of Motherwell and would welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue with the Director of education or other council leaders."
NB: The Council's proposals were discussed at a full council meeting today (17 December 2002).
Further information obtainabale from: Mr. Frank Cassidy, Chancellor, Diocese of Motherwell, 01698-269114.
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