Page 2, 30th October 1959

30th October 1959
Page 2
Page 2, 30th October 1959 — EDUCATION OF GIRLS

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People: James D. Mackay
Locations: Birmingham, London


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The Work of Our Religious Orders

SIR,-1 am not competent to comment on letter on "Education of Grammar 'Scholiast', but there are a few remarks that made some aspects of the School Girls" by I feel might well he Firstly, given the choice of a grammar school staffed wholely or in part by nuns, and a school with a lay staff, most parents would select the convent-school. This of course implies lack of promotion opportunities for lay teachers but schools exist for families.

Secondly, I do not believe that the nun headmistress is out of touch. Both through the Sword of the Spirit school conferences and in other ways I have met a fair number of such nuns and have been very impressed by their grasp of problems and by their willingness to discuss problems objectively in a way that is not always found elsewhere. Judging from the sixth form girls I meet in the conferences I am enormously impressed by the way the nuns train their girls to face up to modern problems.

I have insufficient evidence to advance the following idea except in a very tentative way. But it has seemed to me that lay teachers with head of department responsibility covering current affairs are less inclined to encourage their senior students to take part in current affair conferences than are the nuns themselves.

If I am told that I meet the best convent schools F will have to agree. And if I am told that I am generalising from too few schools I will have to agree. But the facts mentioned ought to be taken into account in thinking about changing our grammar schools for girls.

I would agree that it is a great pity that nun-teachers do not play an active part in the professional organisations and in educational hodies. Above all I think it a pity because the nuns have something to contribute to the discussions of such bodies.

R. P. Walsh

13 I-Tighbury Place, London, Ni, hope this important discussion on the education of grammar school girls will not stiffer from omission and simplification as do many of our discussions in the Church today.

Granted religious teaching cornmunities have been the pioneers of grammar school education for girls in this country (and one sees no deep reason why they should now hand over to the laity), the fact remains that there has never been any real thinking about the type of feminine education necessary nowadays to assure that these girls will Play as adult Christian women an organic role in the life of an Industry State.

With all the many concessions granted in the last century to women in the economic and political spheres. they should he able to have a much deeper influence on the contemporary way of life but that influence appears to have diminished in proportion as they have become man's equal or near equal in these spheres. One knows there will be an auto, matic protest from the religious teaching communities. If so perhaps they could enlighten us about the nature of this organic role of woman in the 20th century. As far as I know no one is very clear about it, least of all the girls educated in convent grammar schools but if anyone knows it should be their educators.

One fails to see how the organic mission of the Church to the modern world can ever become very effective unless steps are taken to assure this world of the presence within it of an adult Christian womanhood. J. Drummond SIR,-In your correspondence columns there seems to be a certain carping criticism of the religious orders of men and women who undertake to supplement the educational facilities provided for the Catholic body by the State. The critics are of two sorts: the lay teacher and the parents.

The grouse of the teaeher, put in its most extreme form, amounts to a lack of opportunity for promotion in Catholic schools; and, so that he or she may obtain such opportunity. the religious orders should offer their headships to lay staff! Alternatively, that religion should he barred front the headships of parish schools.

When some good Sister of Charity is head of a parish school, her salary doubtless goes to the support of her house, from whence she and her Sisters help to cope with the needs, material and spiritual, of a parish run by some overworked and underfinanced priest. For the layman there are apostolic opportunities in nonCatholic schools.

As far as I know, no order starts a school in a diocese without the permission of the Bishop. If a bishop invites an order to start an independent school in his diocese, about all he can spare from his L.E.A. programme is his encouragement. No order starts a school where no need exists, and even if the Catholic need is great, the resultant fees are quite insuffident to finance a school. with salaries. land, rent and living as high as they are. Hence the necessity to open the doors to nonCatholics.

As a parent, all fees seem unreasonable but T have a firm conviction that the Orders charge the minimum. consonant with the amenities they provide. Try coin. paring them with those of nonCatholic establishments of equiva lent status. If it were possible to see the ledgers of any Order's school. I should not he surprised that there is many a write-off of a Catholic child's unpaid fees because its parents are hardpressed.

It is indeed hard to see nonCatholics in Catholic fee-paying schools, but they are not taking the place of Catholic children. It is sus' plain economics. but it has its benefits,

James D. Mackay 13 Plough & Harrow Road, Birmingham, 16.

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