" C. H." Fight Helps to Change Atmosphere
Catholics fighting for justice for their schools can afford to feel optimistic this week. Much has happened to show that the right-thinking element in the country is agreed that our case shall be dealt with in the spirit of the Atlantic Charter's clause regarding minorities.
Mr. Butler's speech in Glasgow, referred to below, is a promise that schools will preserve their individual characteristics. It is an admission that he is impressed by the success of the Scottish system in education. It is the implicit expression of a wish that, provided the grave obstacles existing in this country can be surmounted, a similar solution should be applied here, at least for us. The scheme, also referred to below, proposed by certain prominent people associated with the educational work made possible through Lord Nuffield's benefactions, is further evidence of the growing recognition of the strength of the Catholic case. The Bishop of Pella finds it " profoundly interesting."
How far have we ourselves helped to bring about this change of .thought? We venture to say that we have done something. For the past year we have unceasingly striven to show that what has for 25 years been good enough for our co-religionists across the border, would suit us equally well in England and Wales. In addition to this we have sought to rouse the interest of our own people, and others, to the unfairness of the T.U.C. Memorandum which threatened at one time to set the country's educational standard.
We have done this, with the gratifiring result that the shoals of protests arriving at Transport House are so impressive that we can say that the T.U.C. are now regretting their hasty action of last September when its Council was weak enough to allow its educational committee to foist on trade unionists views of its own on schools reform which workers everywhere are now engaged in rejecting.
LABOUR PARTY AND T.U.C.
This brings us to a final consideration, a most important one.
The Labour Party is the only political body that has not as yet issued its own views on the future of schools, but the natural thing for the party to do is to take its cue from the T.U.C. Will it do so? We venture to forecast that in consequence of Catholic Action, seen in this schools question at its best, and as the result of its undertaking not to obstruct the Government, it will not (if, and when, the Party issues its own memo on schools) back the T.U.C. in those points (particularly the notorious Section 9) on which the Government knows Catholics to be adamant. For we hopefully assume that the Government's Bill will be one that satisfies Catholics. ' Nevertheless. there will be the " rebels " in Parliament to contend with, and the past year's history tells us pretty well where they are. WE SHALL BE READY.
From Our Educational Correspondent
A letter in last week's issue of the Times Educational Supplement goes far in its suggestions to meet our Catholic claims. It was written by persons whose names must conjure up respect throughout the educational world, the writers being on the education committee of the Nuffield College Social ,Reconstruction Survey. They are: Cyril Bailey, A. D. Lindsay, Richard Livingstone, M. L. Jacks, Cyril Norwood, T. M. Davits, Lynda Grier, Agnes Headlam-Morley and Douglas Cooke. Briefly. they propose the application of the Scottish system to Catholic schools in England.
Bishop Brown told THE CATHOLIC HERALD that he found the letter " profoundly interesting. It is a plea put forward by public men in England for a solution along the lines of the Scottish Act of 1918 " he said.
The signatories say in their letter that Catholic and Jewish schools which are not in "single-school areas" should be bought by the local education authority who arc to be responsible in full for maintenance, salaries and equipment. Managers are to be appointed. But, as under the Scottish settlement, in the appointment of teachers in the schools by the local education authority, the latter must be satisfied as to their educational qualifications, and the denominational representatives must be satisfied as to their character and religious belief. It is provided that the Board of Education or the local education authority be empowered to close or reorganise schools which have been purchased, so that the changing educational needs of a neighbourhood be met.
BISHOP BROWN'S COMMENT
Commenting, Bishop Brown noticed " that the suggestion presupposes that similar treatment could not be accorded to denominational schools whose religious instruction is based on an agreed syllabus, although with certain arrangements for supplementary distinctively denominational teaching."
An important parallel is apparent. The letter recognises that arrangements which would meet the main needs of Church of England and Nonconformist children cannot be applied to Catholic schools. Further, recent pronouncements of Nonconformists have likewise 'recognised that syllabus teaching (which is acceptable in council schools and has been decided upon by the Church Assembly for Anglican schools with certain supplementary teaching in the latter) cannot be accepted by Catholics.
Now it was a similar recognition of differences in religious beliefs and practices which led to the Scottish Act of 1872 allowing voluntary and denominational .schools, which were partly sup-' ported by Government grants, to form part of that country's' educational system. Following this interesting line of thought the Bishop added: " The Act of 1918 carried things a step further and allowed these schools to become ba transfer schools maintained as authority schools with certain reservations."
The signatories of the letter in the Times Educational Supplement state: " We believe that a religious atmosphere should -permeate all schools, and that good religious Instruction should be given to all children at an early age by members of the regular staff. We hold that the Christian belief common to the Christian Churches heavily outweighs denominational differences. and that religious teaching on agreed syllabuses given by competent teachers should fOrrn an essential part of the educational curriculum?'
The Protestant bodies as a whole will not object to the last proposal, because almost universally the " Agreed " syllabus has been agreed to by them.