Hopwood closure `a threat to entire system'
THE GOVERNORS of De La Salle College, Hopwood Hall have said there are no educational or pastoral grounds for closing the college under the Government's proposals for cuts in teacher training.
In a new statement this week, they say Hopwood Hall is a perfectly healthy college, recruiting well among Catholic students and producing good quality Catholic teachers, especially in subjects which are in short supply.
The board of governors, which is chaired by Bishop Thomas Holland of Salford, says the decision to terminate teacher training there was not made with the agreement of the Catholic authorities.
"The Secretary of State can be in no doubt as to the wishes of the Catholic hierarchy but has chosen to ignore them, invoking his powers under regulations rather than his duties under the 1944 Act."
They say the decision, which will mean the college would close in three or four years' time, is a threat to the entire system of Catholic education in this country.
"Joy and relief at the reprieve of Newman College should not divert attention (as the Department of Education and Sciences hopes it will) from the danger that threatens us if the decision to close the college is allowed to pass unchallenged."
"The crux of the argument, of which De La Salle has now become the focus point, lies in the right of the Catholic hierarchy (through the Catholic Education Council) to have an effective voice in determining what constitutes "adequate facilities" for the supply of teachers to the Catholic voluntary aided schools."
Last week in the House of Commons, Mr William Waldegrave, minister with responsibility for higher education, declared that the Catholic hierarchy has no right, nor ever had, to distribute the proportion of student numbers among its colleges.
The Hopwood governors warn that if the Education Secretary's interpretation of his powers under regulations is allowed to stand then further Catholic colleges will be closed without prior consultation or effective appeal.
"The hierarchy's right to allocate and distribute its share of the teacher training places has been respected by successive governments since 1944, but has now been called into question and directly violated by Sir Keith Joseph's decision to close De Ea Salle in open contradiction to the hierarchy's expressed wish" say the Hopwood authorities.
In a pastoral letter read in churches in the Salford diocese last week, Bishop Holland said he was appalled at what the closure could mean for the children of the diocese, and at the damage being done to the Catholic position in the national system of education.
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