Deputy First Minster John Swinney made the comments during a celebration of the centenary of state-funded Catholic schools in the majestic surroundings of the Grand Hall of Edinburgh Castle on November 14th. As a storm raged around the Castle, the Deputy First Minister joked: “You’d be forgiven for thinking the castle was about to blow away. But it doesn’t darken or dampen our spirits and enthusiasm to commemorate this significant occasion.”
He also spoke from the heart as a parent: “Catholic schools I feel are an essential part of our education system.They deliver education, anchored within values and that values based education is very visible within Catholic schools and a really welcome part of the education approach. It is a choice for individuals to make, and my wife and I have made the choice that our son will be educated within that tradition.
“And that matters to us because we believe he will have an education based on the teaching of Jesus, and we think that will equip him with the goodness, the resilience and the strength he needs for his life.”
No intention to change
The Cabinet Secretary for Education reiterated the government stance that it has ‘absolutely no intention of changing the current position’ where Faith aspects of the curriculum of Catholic schools is determined by the Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES).
The success of the partnership between the government and Glasgow University was also highlighted as Mr Swinney revealed that there are 320 new students expected to achieve the Catholic teaching certificate in 2018 and 397 students undertaking the certificate in 2019. Mr Swinney said: “If we can increase Catholic teachers going through the education system by 23 per cent in one go I will take that as a hearty achievement of our ongoing work.”
When asked what the message is to secularists who criticise state funding of Faith schools in Scotland, Mr Swinney said: “I think we’ve got all the evidence that demonstrates that there is strength and quality in the Catholic education system. From the Scottish Government’s perspective we feel that it’s important that parents have the opportunity to send their children to Catholic schools. We’ll continue that tradition and it’s a vital part of the quality of the education system.”
The Nuncio of Great Britain Archbishop Edward Adams had travelled from London to speak at the historic landmark event in Edinburgh Castle. Archbishop Adams emphasised that the teaching of the Gospels in schools “takes to heart and addresses every type of poverty among young people; moral, physical and above all spiritual, that spiritual poverty, which is the root of every serious human problem.”
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow commented: “The 1918 Education Act was an incredibly visionary settlement and it was based on social justice for community. “We are delighted that the Scottish Government sees that this settlement is important, not just for Catholic community, which has thrived, but also for Scotland.
“Catholic schools are good for Scotland, and we’re grateful to the government for their assurance of support.”