What We Owe to Religious Orders
SHt,—We all know that the grave shortage of teachers throughout the country is not confined to Catholic schools but surely our own needs have first claim on Catholic teachers and as long as there is a shortage of staff in our schools it is reasonable to expect Catholics teaching in other schools seriously to consider their duty to our Catholic children.
"Magistra" rightly points out that "it is not altogether a lass to the Church that many Catholics teach in State schools." It would not be a bad thing if all teachers in the country were Catholics, but there is such a thing as a priority claim.
Mr. G. M. Neanon asks "Are there any maintained or direct grant grammar schools with a lay headmaster?" which prompts one to reply with another question: "How many such schools would there be if it were not for the Religious Orders?" When, for example, as Bishop Craven pointed out two years ago, a Religious Order sinks .£180,000 into a school, it is only right and just that members of that Community should retain the higher posts. When the Catholic Teachers' Federation or the Catholic members of the N.U.T. finance some new Grammar Schools they will have every right to the headships and senior appointments. There is something of the dog in the manger mentality in lay teachers who complain about the religious holding down the best posts in their own schools.
Appendix B (page 179) of the Catholic Education Council's Handbook for 1960/61 lists 112 Catholic Grammar Schools (excluding Comprehensives) in England and Wales, almost all of which were built and arc owned by Religious Orders. In these schools there are five lay headmasters and one lay headmistress. The same Handbook (page 174) shows that there are 1,477 nonCatholic teachers in our Catholic schools because Catholic teachers are not forthcoming. Let us, at any rate, pay tribute to these nonCatholics.
In spite of Mr. Neanon's contention I still maintain that the number of Catholic schools in which there is friction between the parish priest and the staff is comparatively few, which is what I originally said.
Finally, in all our quarrelling. please let us still not forget the Catholic child who goes to a Catholic school in order to receive a Catholic education.
S1R,—As the originator of the correspondence on Catholic; teachers, perhaps I may now reply to some of the points made by other correspondents.
The suggestion of "School Manager" that every Catholic teacher
with a grievance should make it
known to the Catholic Teachers' Federation is not really useful.
An unsuccessful lay applicant for a headship cannot complain if a nun is appointed in preference to him without claiming that he is a better candidate. Neither does the silence of the C.T.F., so far as this correspondence is concerned, give much hope of any effective action on their part, What is needed is a national commission of enquiry to establish among other things the proportion of religious to lay assistants and of religious to lay heads. This would show whether I have been unfortunate or whether Messrs. Conlon and Robinson -have been fortunate.
II appears that the situation is worse in some areas than others; the London suburban area to which I referred in my original letter may not be typical. However, lay assistants in that area are not really interested in the fact that managers in Sunderland are gentlemen; they are more concerned with the fact that managers in their area appear to regard lay teachers as inferior to nuns. Why should they have to move to Sunderland to obtain promotion? And if they did, would Mr. Conlon be so complacent? I doubt it. Quite apart from expense, a move would mean the uprooting of their children already established at school.
"County School Master's" letter is unlikely to encourage them to believe that applications are dealt with as openly as they should be. In my experience (which covers several parts of the country) such events, though not unknown in county sceools, are much more common in Catholic schools, Is it too much to hope for an authoritative statement on the policy that managers should apply? Without this, the situation will inevitably deteriorate.