Another Challenge to Critics
SIR,—May I be permitted to defend my ." blatant nonsense" written in your issue of August 7? You appear to have had a crop of objectors who expect to find in one article a kind of " Summa " of educational philosophy. That article, moreover, did not stand alone. After previous contributions in which I gave my own views and those of eminent Catholic leaders, not to mention the facts and contentions around which the Dual System controversy is raging, I merely gave the views publicly stated by the Workers' Educational Association. And very valuable those views were. If our own religious leaders (except for one or two had given us any views at all to propound, I would have given. those long ago ; but they simply Juive not. My views have previously been given, and my own tentative suggestions too; Mr. Murphy and Mr. Connelly are welcome to criticise and to give their own, but they should not expect me in every contribution to recapitulate all that I have ever said. If facts and references are wanted, they can be given, as in the article on juvenile delinquency this week; but not every article can be a documented encyclopedia.
Where positive and concrete objection to my contentions has been vouchsafed by critics, I can answer. I wrote of Catholic schools in general. Mr, Murphy confines his remarks to dementary schools, and even here on his own ground he is likely to lead astray. Laying claim to " supervised secular training as good as anyone else's " (which was what I pleaded for), he says that they .have had ffiis for many a year. I am glad to hear that the Essex Education Committee and the Board of Education have seen to this at Ilford, where he teaches; but I can assure him that, though supervised, Catholic education is in a very great number of districts not nearly the equal of Council education, in secular matters. Mind you, it was not I who recently said so; it appeared to be the consensus of opinion at the recent Sword of the Spirit meetings. In the Nprth, the Midlands and the South there are many Catholics able to give widespread testimony of these shortcomings. Mr. Murphy's school is evidently one of the many good ones. Thank heaven he bridles under criticisnonot intended for such as he! But that doesn't entitle him to say generally for the country that in ordinary Catholic schools the/qualifications of the staff are as good as those in Council schools. It simply is not true, if only because in many cases the Council schools are newer and have staffs recruited from the better-trained teachers who have been turned out in greater abundance since the last war. Moreover, consider the
great number of uncertificated and untrained teachers in voluntary sehools, And the nuns who are head mistresses of so many elementary schools. In many cases their abilities and qualifications would not get them a post in Council schools. Besides, Council school vacancies are advertised publicly and Wily filled. Catholic vacancies aren't even posted in all the major Catholic newspapers; and if they are yee are never sure that the job isn't already earmarked for someone in the favour of the parish priest (who isn't in every case ex officio to be regarded as an expert in education ; although he often has more despotic power in his school than the Councils in their schools).
Now, still confining our attention to the elementary schools, whose good points are at least in some measure due to the fact that the local authority has the ultimate theoretical control over them (although in fact it does not interfere with the parish priest and the managers), can we find anyone to show where to any great extent voluntary schools have been said to be anything like the equals in education of their Council school neighbours. Are their theories and practices quoted with approval in educational books? Are they ever in the nation's eye as doing outstanding works of youth service, or training, in social reform? I have seen the publication of photographs of Montessori systems in convent schools, and one or two isolated instances of noteworthy features of secondary schools, and I shall he glad to see more pictures and hear more facts in proof of the completely unsubstantiated allegation of equality with Council schools in proficiency of secular training. Don't forget that Catholic teachers in dementary schools get the same pay ; so it can't he that the managers can't afford the best staff for the job.
The Board of Education Inspectors compose reports when they visit schools. These reports are confidential, and not for publication. Yet Mr. Connelly taunts me with not quoting them. The quotation of these reports, as he must know, is forbidden. But if he likes I can refer him to the headmasters of such schools (particularly secondary schools), which were positively mentioned as having many shortcomings, and which have come under my personal notice. And I can give unimpeachable Catholic testimony of unpublished shortcomings and inefficiency in many more, Mr, Connelly further affirms that the local education authority " could (and would) sack teachers " whose work was not up to the standard of the Council schools. Preposterous! The only imaginable instance in which such action would or could be taken is the hypothetical one of • a teacher being so utterly incompetent that his retention would be a scandal. And yet we are glibly assured that Councils will do such things if the teachers are not " up to the standard of the. Council schools." If, after all, Catholic schools are " as good," how do objectors account for the public outcry against " blacklist " schools? Why are many professional and administrative bodies so openly declaring that the Dual System is a stumbling block to educational progress? Are they all persecution-mad?
Note that no one says a word about secondary schools, where alone we can see Catholic education freed from the " tranimels " of Government control. Is all well? Are-highly qualified and professionally efficient staffs well paid? Are the secular results'aa good in even
large proportion of them as in the County secondary schools? Are the Encyclicals known? Is there a living organised Catholic laity issuing forth to make the Faith a by-word for moral and social progress? Look at the advertisements for secondary school vacancies in the Catholic papers. How many offer Burnham Scale?
I am a Catholic, passionately eager to have fine and perfect Catholic schools, primary and secondary. Make no mistake about that. For months 1 have constantly pleaded for a complete rejuvenation of outlook, a revitalising of method, and a reorganisation of administration. I have asked for Stateprovided buildings and apparatus, for equality of treatment. I have asked for a lay control of each school, subject to the approval of the Bishops, and a new body I should like,,to see brought into being—a .Catholic National Council, composed of the hierarchy (or their delegates) and, progressive laymen in equal numbers. Such a council could direct the " foreign policy " of the Church in social and educatioual matters, inspiring the trust of nonCatholic authorities and embodying the Popes' project of Catholic lay leadership. My hope is for complete Board of Education supervision of all secular training in every Catholic school. I should like all headmasters and headmistresses to be lay (as I believe Archbishop Williams forecast about ten years ago). I should like a living wage for all Catholic teachers (lay or religious) able to prove their efficiency. Their appointment I should like to see in the hands of the iocal authority, their religious and moral sufficiency being checked by a district sub-committee of the Catholic National Council. Under such a Council, Catholic education could be unified, given equal opportunities and made efficient.' Only in this or sonic similar way do I foresee the salvation of Catholic education which so vehemently desire. These, be it repeated, are my own personal fallible views. I am not in a position to give official views, as Mr. Murphy wishes. My own bind tiobody.
Previous letters of mine have all been signed. Anonymity of articles is merely editorial policy, and usual in news papers. 4' E. J. Km*.
31, London Road, Ewell, Surrcy,
More State Control?
Sie,—Father Dukes suggests that the State should exercise more effective control over Catholic schools. Writing in Education recently, I-r. F. H. Drinkwater says: " But is thtre not already full public control? All the secular side of education, all the welfare services, . . . all the appointment of teachers as fai as qualification is concerned, all the suitability of buildings are fully under the control of the Board and the L.E3a. Nothing remains under the control of the managers except the religious character of the school, including by way of safeguard the actual selection of the teachers."
Inefficiency is not especially the mark of Catholic teachers. Too frequently, more frequently, it is found in other professions and callings in high and low places. According to Government inspectors and other competent witnesses, Catholic teachers arc as well trained as other teachers. Catholic head-teachers were appointed to their posts by the managers because, presumably, they were neither lazy, nor inefficient nor insubordinate. If they exhibit these failings in their secular work the L.E.A. can dismiss them. The reports of the religious examiners prove that these charges cannot be levelled against them in the matter of religious instruction.
Consider the working conditions in many of our schools. They are overcrowded, classes are abnormally large, there arc continuous movements of scholars from clans to class to make room for a continuous stream of new entrants who move ehout from school to school. Buildings are dismal and unsuitable. Catholic teachers make the hest of these bad conditions, which could and should he removed immediately at State expense.
Fr. Dukes' solution appears to be to send all Catholic children to the Council school, where the brighter conditions would raise the level of knowledge, of information and of manners and morals of parents and children. This is not new. Those who deny to Catholics full financial aid in education have persistently dangled this bait. We could have had such a settlement at any time during the past 40 years. It has been deliberately rejected by the Catholic body, not only because it would not produce the results suggested, but also, and mainly, because it would not achieve the ends of Catholic education.
Catholics are hoping to reach a solution whereby new schools will be built and existing schools reconditioned entirely from public funds, for the accommodation of Catholic children. In these better schools we want Cathfalic teachers who, working under-better conditions, will demonstrete what no impartial observer has denied, that they are as efficient and industrious as other teachers and are as ready to obey the legitimate commands of properly constituted and properly exercised authority.
" LIVERPOOL HEADMASTER."