By a Special Correspondent DIOCESES which have failed to include lay persons in their schools commissions were criticised this week by Mrs. Freda Wood, a deputy headmistress from Newcastle on Tyne, at the diamond jubilee conference of the Catholic Teachers' Federation, Mrs. Wood, speaking as newly-elected president at St. Mary's College of Education, Strawberry Hill, said: "In most dioceses, commissions have been set up on which many of our teachers are serving.
"But it is a matter of great regret and some concern that this is not yet the general pattern throughout the country."
The conference, on the theme of Christian education, was attended for the first time by religious and teachers of other denominations. Mrs. Wood urged upon them the need to defend the right to teach religion in schools, against which attacks are being made.
She said: "We must be ready to defend the basic principle that every child has a right to the opportunity of learning about the Christian Faith and all that it means."
She questioned whether parent-teacher co-operation in Catholic schools approached the ideals outlined in the Plowden Report on Primary Education, published this year. She said she did not think enough had been done, and that much more attention needed to be given to the matter at all stages in the child's education.
Mrs. Wood said co-operation with parents would help to solve problems posed by present-day society. "We wage a constant war against false values and attitudes — against the lowering of moral standards and behaviour, the gutter Press, low standards of advertising, the exploitation of crime and evil influences as portrayed through the mass media, the lack of self-discipline and disregard for authority.
"All of these things hamper the teachers who are trying to inculcate in the young people of today true values of charity, honesty, truth and obedience, a respect for work and its due rewards and particularly respect for ourselves and our neighbours as creatures of God."
Of mechanical and other aids now being introduced into education, Mrs. Wood said teachers must be sure that they become servants and not masters. She said "only those methods and aids which make us more perfect in our work and benefit the children we teach" should be adopted.
Two hundred teachers from all parts of England and Wales attended the conference.
Guests included several Catholic archbishops and bishops, together with religious of other denominations and leaders of other Christian teachers' organisations.
Mr. William T. Glynn, headmaster of St. Gilbert's Primary School, Winton, Lanes., was elected vice-president of the federation.