From Our Educational Correspondent
Only ten months remain before the date on which the school-leaving age will be raised to fifteen years under the Education Act of 1936, but a depressingly small number of local education authorities have notified the Board of Education of formal agreement to make grants for Catholic schools.
Under Section 8 of the Act local education authorities may agree to provide from 50 per cent. to 75 per cent. of the cost of enlarging or improving Catholic elementary schools or providing new schools, but (with very few exceptions) proposals for enlarging, improvement or new building must have been submitted to the authority before September 30 last.
Two Months Ago At Latest
This means that all proposals affecting Catholic schools must have been submitted two months ago at the very latest and negotiations should be completed or well advanced by now as all schemes must be carried out and buildings completed by September 30, 1940.
Enquiries at the Board of Education last week elicited the information that so far official notification had been received of agreements affecting only seven Catholic schools—one of them receiving 50 per cent. grant and the other six the full 75 per cent. permitted.
More Anglican Schools
Church of England schools in respect of which agreements had been notified numbered 13—all of them receiving 75 per cent. grants except one, where the grant is 62.8 per cent.
It is admitted that there are other cases in which the local education authorities have notified their intention to make a
grant, but the Board of Education is not concerned with intentions, but only with definite agreements duly concluded, and it is not deal whether such agreements have yet been made.
Shy Unfortunately, it is not possible to assess the position adequately as the Catholic education councils for the various dioceses appear to fight shy of Issuing statements to the Catholic press.
In this they arc almost certainly actuated by a desire not to prejudice delicate negotiations by publicity, though against this there is the solid weight of public opinion which may be mobilised by the Catholic press.
Unfortunate Result Undoubtedly the diocesan education councils have weighed the pros and cons of publicity, but the omission to issue regular authoritative statements of the position makes it difficult for Catholics to assess the situation with clear knowledge and appears to leave the field to opponents to conduct a whispering campaign that the failure to conclude agreements is due to the attitude of the Catholic side.
Comparisons In regard to the figures quoted above of the number of agreements notified it would seem that the Church of England school authorities in securing 13 schools to the Catholics' seven, have not secured the ratio to be expected from the official number of their adherents, but they have done immeasurably better than the Non-Conformist sects which, in the seventeen authorities concerned, have not secured a grant for even one school.