Bishop Tells Teachers
From a Special Correspondent It Was a very sad outlook that, after being pioneers of education for 150 years, there seemed a grave danger of their being crushed out—not by any sectarianism, simply by f s. d., said Mgr. King, Bishop of Portsmouth, on Thursday last.
Mgr. King was addressing the annual conference of the Catholic Teachers Federation, held in Southsea on December 29 and 30, Present were 170 delegates from 60 branches and representing some 7,000 members who are in a unique position for understanding how much is at stake in the pre sent schools crisis.
Delegates were given an official welcome by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Alderman John
Privett. A tribute to the Catholic schools came from the chairman of the local education committee, Alderman W. J. Lewis, who said that as a non-Catholic who had been a manager of a Catholic school for 27 years, it seemed to him that Catholic teachers had a happy knack of creating an atmosphere in their schools, which was one of the more vital parts of religious instruction.
Another tribute to Catholic teachers came from Mr. E. G. Barnard, Chief Education Officer, who praised Catholics for their help in rebuilding education in Portsmouth,
Mr. W. E. Critchley. the Federation's secretary, said that the financial burdens were making the preervation of voluntary schools welrnigh impossible. The Education Act, he told delegates, embodied the preservation of voluntary schools yet at the same time prevented this preservation by the administration of the Act.
" Let local education authorities," he said, " remember that the preservation of voluntary schools is part of the Act."
In his presidential address Mr. W. E. Mitchell, of Bristol, dealt on Thursday with the role of Catholic schools, turning the attention of this year's conference first and foremost to the present threat which overshadows all other questions concerned with education at the moment.
"When moral fibre has no toughening of spiritual threads in such a period," he said. " any influence which can help shape the minds and hearts of men so that they reflect in thought the deed, the design and purpose of their Creator, is of value, nay, of importance.
"Such an influence is the Catholic school, and in proportion to the encouragement and practical assistance it receives from the State is its power greater or less."
A number of resolutions were passed by the conference. One urged that the present destructive financial burdens be removed by an Amending Act in the next Parliament on the lines proposed by the Catholic Hierarchy, or in some similar acceptable manner."
A second requested the Minister of Education to impress upon local education authorities " the urgent need " for free transport for Catholic pupils, free tuition at Catholic grammar schools, and whenever possible the provision of temporary accommodation for voluntary aided schools.
A third urged the Minister to accelerate the grant of aided status to schools which became temporary voluntary aided schools under the Act of 1944.
And a fourth resolution stated: "That in view of -the present financial state of our country, this conference calls upon the Ministry of Education to amend the regulations prescribing standards for school premises."