Page 4, 30th June 1989

30th June 1989
Page 4
Page 4, 30th June 1989 — Few precedents on opting out

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Locations: Nottingham, Rome, Slough


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Few precedents on opting out

From the Bishop of Nottingham I AM writing with a little concern about the letter published in your paper of June 23 which was sent by Andrew Turner, Director of the Grant Maintained Schools Trust, in which he mentions myself, the Bishop of Nottingham.

Can I make it clear that our Catholic secondary school in Grantham, the Blessed Hugh More School, had been under threat of closure for many years and eventually the Lincolnshire Education Authority withdrew its support for the school. In the hope of saving Catholic secondary education in that part of my diocese I gave permission for the governors to apply for grant aided status. This was turned down by the Education Minister Mr Baker. At no time was the school in any reorganisation programme. The chairman and governors of the school always acted in full consultation with the diocese and its trustees, and followed our guidance all the way. THE letter from Mr Turner of the Grant Maintained Schools Trust (June 23) regarding the Cardinal Vaughan School is misleading in its attempt to set Cardinal Flume against Bishop McGuinness and Archbishop Worlock regarding grant maintained schools.

Bishop McGuinness supported the application for grant maintained status of the Blessed Hugh More School in Grantham as a last ditch attempt to keep open a Catholic school in that part of Lincolnshire. In doing so he was trying to protect the rights of the parents to have the choice of Catholic schooling.

Archbishop Worlock has nominated prospective governors for St Francis Xavier School, as is his right, though the school is not part of the diocesan trust for it belongs to the De La Mennais Brothers. This case is not at all parallel to that of the Cardinal Vaughan School.

The central point, however, is that neither of these schools is involved in plans by diocesan authorities for reorganising and known that grant maintained status was designed to enable a school to leave the control of a local education authority. The parents of the Cardinal Vaughan School have no quarrel with their local education authority.

Rather they are using grant maintained status to avoid diocesan reorganisation proposals. In offering this opportunity, the 1988 Act undermines the rights of diocesan authorities, for it is they who are and continue to be obliged to put forward plans for Catholic education in changing circumstances. It is they too who, unlike local authorities, will retain continuing ultimate responsibility for a diocesan Catholic school even if it is given grant maintained status against their will.

In this regard the 1988 Education Reform Act has been badly drafted. It leaves the responsibilities of the diocesan trustee unchanged, but it significantly reduces his rights. The bishops of England and Wales share fully the concerns Of Cardinal Hume on this

fundamental point.

Mgr Vincent Nichols General Secretary Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales MARY Kenny (June 16) does not know the Catholics of England and Wales, or their friends. For the first three decades of my life at each Sunday mass we were exhorted by our priests to put money into the second collection to build and maintain local Catholic schools and churches, even though we and our children might never use them.

Regularly from the pulpit devout parents were told correctly by their friends — mild parish priests — that they would be excommunicated if they didn't send us to Catholic schools. My parents and many others beggared themselves and us financially for the Faith to be taught to all in the town. I was told weekly at my convent school by an Irish priest (who lost his financial inheritance on joining the Church) that nothing was

the Faith. This torch must be

more important than handing on

carried to generations yet unborn.

Were I now to learn that diocesan schools were opting out of the diocesan system for no good reason, they would do so over my dead body and that of my surviving parent. My knowledge of our bishops' supreme responsibility for the schools in our dioceses (Mary Kenny should read canon law) and their accountability not merely to the Holy Father for them but to us all whose blood, sweat, toil and tears has maintained them over many years for the benefit not of ourselves but of others, makes me wonder at the disedifying spectacle of a few shortsighted,

possessive people who care nothing for their cardinal's legal responsibility for all the people of his diocese or his accountability to Rome, nor for the generosity of those teachers and children prepared to lose their jobs and echools in the Westminster shake-up.

Mary Hy pher Slough

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