CATHOUC HERALD REPORTER
ARCHBISHOP BECK of Liverpool, chairman of the
Catholic Education Council, said this week that by far the biggest problem facing the Catholic community as a result of the Government's plans for comprehensive schools, was that of finance.
Writing in the July-August issue of the Catholic Teachers' Journal, the Archbishop stated that the reorganisation of the direct grant schools into the comprehensive pattern would require expensive building alterations. Also, if the direct grant schools could not fit into the new pattern, a large number of new aided places would be required.
."Who is to Pay for all this?" asks the Archbishop. "Clearly it is equitable to claim that whoever calls the tune should pay the piper. The extra cost involved ought to be met from public funds and not made an additional charge on the voluntary bodies. It would be unfair to saddle our parishes and our people with further financial burdens in addition to those they already bear."
He pointed out that the Catholic community had built schools in post-war years at a cost f about £120 million, and that it was burdened with interest charges and the servicing of loans on a sum that may be as high as £50 million for anything up to 30 years.
Of his own archdiocese, he declared: "I could not in conscience ask my priests and people to do more than they are doing for the sake of fitting into a selerne of secondary school re
organisation which has not yet established or justified itself, and which carries with it no guarantee of permanence, .
"it is encouraging to know that some of our influential local government educational authorities give full support to us in this contention.
"Indeed I do not think we can go ahead with the local discussions and planning, which are now called for, until this fundamental question has been settled."
Commenting generally on the proposals, His Grace said that it should be widely agreed that selection by examination at the age of 11 should be replaced by something better.
No directly religious principles were involved in the proposals, and any problems raised -would be generally those of local circumstances.
In the Ministry's circular a sixstream entry was advocated and this ruled out, at least in present buildings, the establishment of full-size Catholic comprehensives in most parts of the country. This meant the alternative must be some form of two-tier secondary education.
Whether this system could possibly meet the requirements of the circular would need much longterm investigation and consultation, the Archbishop said.