A S a man who spent eight years teaching full-time in a convent grammar school, I write to answer a question put by Mr. A. Winn in your issue of April 18.
Yes, as a class, nuns are more dedicated than lay teachers are as a class — which is perfectly consistent with the fact that some lay teachers are more dedicated than some nuns.
Nevertheless, a dispassionate examination and appraisal of the situation can. I am firmly convinced, teed the impartial observer to the only conclusion that nuns, in general work harder and more conscientiously than do lay staff. Not for the nun the tardy arrival in the morning and the urgent departure as school closes.
Perceptive observation suggests that dedication and hard work are the characteristics of a diminishing number of teachers these days. Such. to my mind, highly desirable characteristics in a teacher do seem, on a proportional count, to be vested much more in nuns—and of course their equivalent the teaching brothers—than in lay teachers.
The priest who is reported to have said that he would choose a nun every time was probably aware of this, and hence, all other things being equal in the candidates, would be compelled by conscience to select a nun.
One should always bear in mind that schools exist for the benefit of the pupils and are not primarily intended to provide a career structure for teachers. It follows that the person selected for a headship should be the one who is most likely to do the job bestdcdication and hard work are indispensable qualities.
The nun who receives promotion does not, as far as I can ascertain, personally receive the accompanying increase in salary. She does her job because of her Faith and by that very fact is more likely to do it better than would a lay teacher who has been swayed largely by thoughts of the improved financial and social standing he (or she) will enjoy as a result of the appointment.
Finally, I notice that Mr. Winn makes no mention of the fact that a lay candidate's record of parish (Church) work is regarded as an important factor in the deliberations of selection committees when appointing heads to Catholic Schools.
If, then, quantity and quality of religious work not directly connected with the education of children give a lay candidate precedence then Mr. Winn must surely admit that, to be consistent, the nun's fuller religious life and work should give her precedence over the lay teacher who is prominent in parish life.
E. Atkinson South Shields.
BECAUSE of concern expressed by the Hierarchy in 1959, the Catholic Teachers' Federation conducted a survey into the reasons for the "drift" of Catholic teachers from Catholic schools. Six reasons were given in the report. The second one was: "The very limited opportunity of promotion due to the fact that avenues of promotion are blocked by members of religious orders. Excellent though these institutions are. and remembering that they were the foundation of Catholic education, it is frustrating now to members of the profession who wish for responsibility and promotion. Many
are leaving our schools for this reason alone — particularly those with higher qualifications".
The report continued: "In the light of this report, an .approach should be made to the congregations to bring to their notice the fact that lay teachers are leaving their schools due to the lack of promotion and urge a more equitable distribution between lay and re ligious staff" . . and ten years later we have 21 of the 25 headships at Leeds filled by nuns! In simple terms this means that an elite of 8 per cent religious provide 84 per cent of the headships . an equitable distribution? I think not.
It is astonishing that the diocesan authorities should have so blatantly disregarded this report, drawn up at the request of the Hierarchy, but even more astonishing that the Leeds branch of the CTF should have tolerated this, for so long.
When one considers the Burnham salaries and additional allowances which accrue to the Orders it is not surprising to hear that some, at least, of these 21 nuns should have been unwillingly elevated while still comparatively inexperienced.
The staffing of Catholic schools is a festering problem and in many areas en increasing number of non-Catholic and unqualified teachers have to be employed. The Catholic Education Council has written: "Upon the supply of teachers depends the prosperity of Catholic schools, the efficiency of their teaching, and their maintenance by public funds. Any falling-off in the supply of efficient teachers would be disastrous for the schools." Over to you. Leeds!
THE reply by Mr, J. P. Delaney (April 18) to "Angry Teacher" (April 4) was a load of codswallop verha el praeterea nihil.
I will give L5 to any charity Mr. Delaney may name if he or anyone else can state one case to the CATHOLIC HERALD in which nuns competed with lay teachers for a headship in a Catholic primary school and the lay teacher was accepted as the successful applicant.
The Church is paying a heavy price for these injustices because, although many nuns have given unstinted and devoted service to both school and Church, nevertheless not all have had "oil in their lamps" and the policy of "a Nun at any cost" is in part responsible for the dreadful leakage of teenagers from Holy Church.
G. W. Rippon Silloth, Carlisle.
PLEASE allow me to thank Peggy Thomas for her most helpful letter on the Dutch Church in your issue of April 25. I suspected that she had something important to say, and she has now said it.