T—BAYlex Cosgrave THE LONG BATTLE to save St Mary's Catholic College of Education at Fenham, Newcastle upon Tyne, succeeded this week when Mrs Shirley Williams, Secretary of State for Education and Science, announced that the college would be allowed to retain 300 teacher-training places.
In her announcement to the House of Commons, Mrs Williams said that after consultation she had decided to reverse a government decision of January and allow five institutions, including St Mary's, to continue their role as teachertraining colleges.
St Mary's survival is largely because of a reallocation of some of the 4,200 teacher training places allocated to Catholic Colleges throughout the country.
In line with a recommendation of the Catholic Education Commission which was endorsed by the bishops of England and Wales at their April meeting, five Catholic colleges have agreed to take minor reductions in their number of places to ensure St Mary's survival. Trinity and All Saints College, Leeds, will lose 100 places, while De La Salle College, Manchester, Newman College, Birmingham, and St Mary's College, Twickenham, Middlesex, will each sacrifice 60 places. La Sainte Union, Southampton, will contribute 20 places. Bishop Hugh Lindsay of Hexham and Newcastle said this week that he was delighted with the decision. "The college will continue to serve the North-East and to provide our 214 Catholic schools with twothirds of their new teachers," he said.
Sister Wilson, Principal of St Mary's, said that she and her staff were delighted to have the opportunity of continuing higher education in an area where the strong support of Catholic and Anglican teachers had shown that a Christian presence was valued.
"We are deeply grateful for the generosity of Catholic colleges which, at cost to themselves, have secured the continuance of St Mary's. We hope that none will have endangered their future."
In announcing her decision, Mrs Williams paid tribute to the staff of all the colleges for their forbearance during a very difficult period.
She said: "I recognise that my proposals have been severe, but I very much hope that those institutions which are to continue teacher-training can now look forward to a period of stability in which it will not be necessary to make further changes."
A major recruitment campaign by the recently formed Association of Catholic Teachers has met with a big response and has so far achieved a 70 per cent membership in the schools it has contacted.
The association, which was formed in the Motherwell diocese with Bishop Francis Thomson of Motherwell as its honorary president, describes itself as "existing to reaffirm Christian principles, particularly those that affect Catholic schools."
The Conference of Catholic Colleges decided at its annual meeting to open its membership to head teachers of all Catholic secondary girls' schools.
The decision is designed to help the conference, which at present has a membership of about 100 comprehensive, independent, direct-grant and voluntary-aided schools, to be
of greater service to the Catholic body in England and Wales.
The French bishops have restated their support for Catholic schools and described proposals to nationalise such schools as "contrary to the rights and interest of the youngsters, parents and teachers of this country." Private schools in France can apply for varying levels of government aid, and the amount of aid they receive determines the degree of government control over the school.
"Any modification of the status of Catholic schools that would make them accessible only to the affluent would he unacceptable", said t he bishops.
• Government plans to close the Dowanhill, Glasgow annexe to Notre Dame College of Education, Bearsden, have been attacked by the college governors this week.
A strongly-worded letter to the Scottish Education Department says the Bearsden college was originally planned for 500 students. But by 1967 the student population had soared to
over 1,000,l,O Dowanhill building, they
say, is urgently needed for:
A music diploma course, instituted in 1968 and open to Catholics and non-Catholics.
The four-year B.Ed. course started in 1971 and requiring lab accommodation not available at Bearsden.
A drama theatre and other accommodation at Dowanhill necessary for the B.Ed. and primary diploma courses.
Library accommodation, and facilities for in-service and evening courses.