The Catholic Church in Scotland today (Mon 8 July) presented its submission
to the Scottish Executive's "National Debate on Education". The "Catholic Education Commission" (CEC), the principal advisory body on education to the Bishops of Scotland, welcomed the opportunity to participate in the National Debate.
CEC National Field Office, John Oates, stated;
"To allow wide participation in the consultation process, the process, which the CEC used to create its response, was to organise a National Conference providing a forum for discussion on the major issues identified in the National Debate. The Conference was held at St. MargaretÃ‚ ¹s Academy in Livingston on Thursday 13 June 2002 and attended by over 150 people. They represented a broad range of interests in Catholic education from all over Scotland; parents, pupils, teachers, priests and others interested and involved in education. We feel the resulting document is endorsed by the legitimacy of widespread participation and hope that the views it contains will inform the deliberations and decisions of the Scottish Executive."
Submission's key points:
*PURPOSES OF EDUCATION (Why should our children learn?) We find the statement in the National Document that the purpose of education Ã‚ ³is to prepare them for a creative and productive working lifeÃ‚ ² inadequate as it is merely utilitarian. We consider that there is much more to it than that and believe that the main purposes of education are -
¦ To form young people intellectually, morally and spiritually to enable them to fulfil their full potential, according to GodÃ‚ ¹s purpose for them and for the world in which they live;
¦ To inform young people by providing them with knowledge and skills to make right judgements based on gospel values for their own good and for the good of others;
¦ To enable young people to be transformed by a faith-based education, which encourages them to contribute to a more just and loving world.
Key point The main purposes of education are to form, to inform and to transform.
*VALUES IN THE CURRICULUM (What should our children learn?) We recognise that there is no such thing as value-free education. Our preference is for an education based on Christian values, helping them to understand who they are and why they are here. We expect our schools to pass on the basic Christian values.
Key point: The curriculum of the school should be under-pinned by a set of clearly stated values which permeate the life of the school. In Catholic schools these are Christian values.
*OUR EXPECTATIONS OF OUR TEACHERS (Who should teach our young people?)
We believe that parents are the first educators and have the prime responsibility for the education of their children. This responsibility is shared with others, creating a partnership between; home, school and parish.
The role of teachers is particularly important. As well as imparting knowledge, teachers also impart values. Thus their lifestyles are important as they serve as role models for our young people and example is a great teacher. We recognise that this places a great responsibility on our teachers, who deserve our fullest support.
*We wish to make the point that we regard Catholic schools as good for the Catholic community and good for Scottish society. There is also ample evidence of the fact that Catholic schools are also good for Scottish education. We express the hope that the Scottish Executive, committed as it is to Social Inclusion, will continue to enable the Catholic community, through its schools and in other ways, to contribute to the richness and
diversity of Scottish life.
Key point: We welcome and support the policy of Social Inclusion at both local and national levels. We totally reject the view that Catholic schools are in any way disruptive of Social Inclusion and commit ourselves wholeheartedly to social harmony in Scotland.
*The Catholic Education Commission commits itself to work in partnership with the Scottish Executive for the benefit of everyone involved in Scottish Education. Thus far we have to say that we have not felt part of a partnership in Scottish education under the new Scottish Parliament. Considering that almost 20% of Scottish pupils are in Catholic schools, we do not consider that we are minor partners on the Scottish education scene. We intend, however, to continue to play our part in Scottish education in the hope that the situation will improve.
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Catholic Education Commission