Catholic Teachers Are Dissatisfied With Our
Treatment Under the Education Act, 1944 By a Staff Reporter " During the passing of the Education Act we insisted that we were not satisfied and that we had not yet obtained justice. However, we mart see that, in the working of the present Act, both the Ministry and local education authorities give equal treatment to county and voluntary schools."
Thus Cardinal Griffin summed up the feelings of fifty-odd delegates, representing some 6,500 Catholic teachers, in his address to the annual conference of their Federation, held at Brighton last week.
"We know that many local authorities do give equal treatment," said the Cardinal. " But there are some who treat the voluntary schools as Cinderellas in the matter of education."
Quoting the important clause No. 76, the Cardinal said:
" In the discussion of the Education Bill emphasis was placed on the provision of facilities enabling parents to send children to schools belonging to the denominations to which they were attached. So the local authority has an equal duty to consider the needs of county and voluntary schools. We have recently been informed by the Minister that £24 million is to be spent this year on permanent and temporary school buildings. We expect that in the spending of this money voluntary schools will receive equal treatment with the county schools. If priorities in building are granted, the voluntary school should share in the priorities with the county school."
EQUAL TREATMENT "The same principle of equality should apply in the choice of school sites. Those who, to-day, are urging equal facilities for all children, will, I am sure, also urge that facilities for the provision of school meals and medical inspection shall also be made available for children and scholars in independent schools. Again, the Act gives power to local education authorities to provide huts for voluntary schools during the interim between now and the carrying out of the full plan of reconstruction. We expect the local authorities to use the powers that are granted to them. It would be unfair and unjust if preference were given to country schools to the exclusion of voluntary schools.
CHILDREN'S CHARTER " We expect Catholic children to share equally with others the rights granted to other children in the country. When the Act was passed it was called 'The Children's Char
ter.' It will be The Children's Charter ' if it is administered on these principles."
In reference to the Federation itself the Cardinal said: "I am more than delighted to know that you have a membership of 6,500 Catholic teachers out of a total of 10,000. I sincerely trust that as a result both of this conference and your forward drive you will succeed in obtaining the good will and co-operation of every Catholic teacher in the country.
"Whilst I am opposed to physical or moral compulsion as a means of obtaining membership of any society, I do not hesitate to suggest that you will be fully justified in using moral persuasion, so that every Catholic teacher shall be a member of your association."
There was an air of professional efficiency about the Conference, and the emphasis at the public session was on the Education Act.
The delegates agreed that the Act had brought certain advantages. There was general dissatisfaction, however, with the way in which the Act is being administered by many local authorities. Some L.E.A.s were said to provide for the county schools at the expense of the voluntary schools. Others were illinformed as to the provisions of the Act.
ALL TEACHERS KNEW THE ACT
One speaker referred to a Minister of Education who, some weeks after he had taken office, publicly proclaimed, "I have not yet begun to master the intricacies of the Act." It was perfectly clear that the speakers at the Public Session last week had mastered them thoroughly. They had the Sections of the Act at their finger-tips, and they knew what they wanted.
It was unfortunate, therefore, that this Conference, representing 6,500 Catholic teachers, should have been held on the same dates as several other educational conferences, such forceful expositions of the Catholic view as were put forward