S1R,1 wonder how much "Retired Simmarian" knows of the Opportunities that are now being offered to Catholic teachers. Here are some points for his consideration:
I. 1960-63 school building programmes are the biggest everamounting to £13,000,000.
2. Of the last 454 head teachers appointed to new and reorganised Catholic schools, 308 were lay teachers.
3. 20 lay head teachers arid four religious appointed in the last five years in one diocese, and 32 lay heads and 10 religious in another: these figures are more typical than the ones "Retired Simmarian" quotes.
4. There are now quite a number of nuns working under lay headmistresses and headmasters.
5. A nun is a lay person who has dedicated herself by the vows of religion to God. She brings with her an invisible bonus. If her qualifications are the same as those of a lay teacher, sometimes her religious profession will make her without question the most suitable candidate.
6. There are some areas where nuns have for many years had headships of primary schools, even when the community did not own the school. When vacancies occur in these schools, in my experience new appointments are being made on a competitive basis. If a religious candidate is offered she is judged on an equal footing with a lay candidate.
7. Some areas do not attract lay teachers. Religious communities have often made a supply of teachers available, when these schools would otherwise have had to be closed.
8. Catholic parents appreciate the blessing of having sisters to teach their little ones. To say this is not in any way to belittle the dedicated lay teacher, and of these thank God ttere are many.
SIR,-"Retired Simmatian" has ably stated in your columns the just grievances of Catholic lay teachers. As one myself and as a manager of a Catholic Secondary School I should like to point out that there is another side to the question.
In the diocese in which I live, in one Catholic Secondary Modern school there are seven non-Catholics on the staff (one of whom is not a Christian) simply because all the efforts of the managers to obtain Catholic teachers have failed.
Another Catholic Secondary Modern advertised two vacant posts for two months before it received a single application from a Catholic teacher.
A Catholic Primary school has been unable for two years to fill a vacancy because of the complete lack of Catholic applicants, In none of these schools, incidentally. were the head teachers religious.
On the other hand little difficulty is experienced in obtaining
Catholic candidates for headships. Some two yews ago in the salute town in which the primary school and one of the secondary moderns referred to above arc situated a vacancy for a headship in a Catholie school produced • sixty-two applicants. These considerations and the fact that in this same town there arc some fifty Catholic teachers in non-Catholic schools make me wonder whether it is quite fair to attribute our staffing difficulties entirely to the very real grievances noted by "Retired Simmarian".
S1R. -There must be many priests, especially in large country parishes, who hope there will always be Catholic teachers to spare for local county schools.
Around here there are six such schools with 116 Catholic children in them. There are no Catholics on the staff. Although the . head teachers are most co-operative, the priest can only hope to take each school once a week. This is little enough, and it would be a boon if in each school of reasonable size there were a Catholic teacher who could use the assembly time to keep the children up to the mark with prayers and instruction. Without such help in between his visits. the priest feels he is rather losing the battle.
(Father) A. Faulkner Hook. Basingstoke. Hants.