May I make several comments on the issues raised by A. E. Harris (July 29) regarding the redeployment of teachers?
In January, 1976, I wrote, on behalf of the Catholic Teachers' Federation, to all diocesan schools commissions urging them to study the implications of any redeployment situation: to consult with teachers and then to issue guidelines to managers and governors so that codes of practice could be established well in advance.
This call from the CTF was given full support by the Catholic Education Council early in the same year. Since then very many diocesan commissions have set up working parties on which local As have been represented and have issued very useful guidelines to managers and governors. In addition, speakers from the Catholic Teachers' Federation have visited many parts of the country talking to groups of teachers on their rights and responsibilities in this matter, Earlier this summer we distributed our own "Notes of Guidance" to all branches of the federation. These cannot be summarised in a letter, but perhaps the following are worth stressing: I. Managers/governors should already have drawn up a code of practice in consultation with their staffs.
2. Teachers in every Catholic school should be aware of the principles upon which managers/governors will act in any particular situation.
3. While head-teachers and the local authority will be deeply involved, thc responsibility for the choice of a teacher to be redeployed rests with the managers/governors. 4. Teachers have rights of appeal, etc, which would make hasty redeployment difficult unless the teacher concerned was a volunteer (however reluctant).
5. Non-Catholic teachers in Catholic schools should have equal rights with their Catholic colleagues.
The information given by Mr Harris is very emotive, but too inadequate of relevant facts for a valid judgment to be made on the particular case. The terms of the teacher's employment, his length of service, etc, would need to be known.
What puzzles me, speaking as a parent as well as a teacher, is what was a Muslim teacher (colour irrelevant) doing in a Catholic primary school in the first place? Peter Carney Hon Gen Secretary, Catholic Teachers' Federation, Stoke-on-Trent.
I commend Fr Forrester (What constitutes a Catholic school? July 15) on his wellbalanced view, and I do share many parents' concern about the nature of religious education being provided in many state schools and some Catholic ones. A real problem, for instance, is the uncommitted R.E. teacher who may either treat Christianity the same as any other religion or spend the time discussing moral and social issues without providing any doctrinal or religious basis.
To understand the present situation of R.E., we must make a distinction between content and methodology. While the content in a Catholic school ought to be permeated by Scripture and doctrine, the approach, on the other hand, should be made appealing to modern youth, or else contact between teacher and pupil may be lost.
I'm afraid the old method of memorising questions and answers out of a catechism book is no longer on, for today's youth prefer a more personalised approach that can make religion more meaningful in their lives. Therefore, Catholic schools are increasingly using audio-visual methods and modern syllabi that make their starting point
the child's own experience and then go on to lead him to the knowledge of Christ. It would be wise, as Fr Forrester suggests, for parents to establish a liaison with R.E. teachers in order to familiarise themselves with these modern methods of teaching.
As for the basic question of what makes a Catholic school different, I think that the following points are worth bearing in mind. First, the Catholic school system, while separate, is not divisive, since a Catholic can be loyal both to his Church and his country. In any part of the world, Catholic schools are valuable because it is in them that the Catholic way of life (i.e., doctrine, values, etc.) is preserved, learned and practised. Perhaps the best way to state the aim of Catholic education is to say that it's the formation of young people into educated and committed Christians. This indicates a two-fold purpose, but the two sides complement and do not conflict with each other.
The first aim, then, is the academic, whereby the teacher imparts information, trains the in tellect and prepares the student for examinations (internal and external), as is done in other subjects. This academic dimension gives the R.E. department an equal status with other departments and also impels the student to take the subject more seriously.
The second aim is the spiritual, which does pot involve examining or assessing the pupil, but which is actually the more important aim. It requires of the R.E. teacher no less than looking after the spiritual growth and development of the pupil's whole personality (will, emotions, etc.) in order to help him commit himself to Christ permanently. A real challenge and an awesome responsibility!
Y. H. R. Seferta