Page 10, 20th December 2002

20th December 2002
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Page 10, 20th December 2002 — Shafts of light in an annus horribilis
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Shafts of light in an annus horribilis

Education

Eric Hester

been a very good one for Catholics in England. Not all has been bad, though. In the last couple of weeks, the government's primary school league tables have been published. Once again, Church schools, dominated the top places. They came top in most local education authorities and accounted for nearly two thirds of the 175 schools that achieved a perfect score in this year's national Key Stage 2 tests taken by 11year-olds — 32 of these Catholic school — although nationally, just over a third of primary schools are church schools. In inner London, all six of the schools that achieved the maximum scores were Catholic.

The year was amazing, too, in that the Holy Father introduced new mysteries to the holy rosary and designated the year October 2002 to October 2003 the Year of, the Rosary.

The bad news mainly referred to events that happened in the past. The anti-Catholic bias of the BBC was shown in its attack on the Cardinal and on the Church, in general. This was met with indignation here in Catholic Lancashire. What cheek of the BBC demanding the resignation of our Cardinal. Schools have a lot to teach the rest of society about child protection, in fact. Certainly since the mid-1970s, when I became a headmaster, schools have had good systems for dealing with teachers who molested children. List 99 meant that such people were never allowed to teach again in any school in the Kingdom.

There is no question of the Cardinal's resignation, but I am not so sure about those who have given our bishops such patently bad advice over the years, in child protection, RE teaching, the liturgy and everything else.

It seems puzzling when we have such great parish priests that the ones who go into the diocesan bureaucracies include so many who are out of touch or, in some cases, dissident. Any headteacher will tell you of diocesan advisers who alter the words of Holy Mass, who advocate the teaching of matters contrary to the Church's magisterium, especially about women priests and Humanae Vitae, and who are pressing for more and more sex education in Catholic schools, even though the Church has expressly forbidden it in primary schools and said it can exist in secondary schools only if controlled by the parents.

There is something very disquieting about people who have no children of their own who yet want to give sex education to other people's children. I have heard from parents who are thinking of invoking the Nolan recommendations against what is being done in some schools. Never blame the teachers for this. All the impetus is coming from the advisers of certain dioceses.

This is an area where Catholic governing bodies, who have the legal responsibility, must be completely firm and tell the diocesan bureaucrats to keep out with their motto of "sex education, sex education, sex education".

I still have the old DES pamphlet on health education which I bought when I started teaching in 1962. Everything about what it called "School and the Future Parent" is sound commonsense, including, about sex education, the wise comment "those who feel an emotional urge to do this work are not necessarily the most suitable". Very true. I like the idea that all sex education classes should be held on Saturdays so that parents who want to attend can do so.

ny forecast for 2003 is likely to be wrong but I predict that there will be use of the Nolan recommendations to outlaw sex education in Catholic primary schools. I predict that the Holy Father will continue to attract vast crowds of young people by making politically incorrect statements.

I also predict that the BBC will continue to report every accusation of child abuse about any priest going back to Melchizedek and will report nothing good about the Church.




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