By our Education Correspondent
Concern is mounting that changes in the new Education Bill could cut out the freedom of Catholic pupils to attend a Catholic school in a local authority other than their own, Mr R. F. Cunningham, secretary of the Catholic Education Council, commented: "The Bill's implications for extradistrict admissions are complicated, but they do give rise to concern.
"I know that there is already lively anxiety in the Greater London area about the proposal to repeal the provision of the London Government Act, which lays down that a child cannot be refused admission to a school because he comes from another authority area either in Greater London or contiguous to it.
"It is far from clear that the other provisions of the Bill effectively replace this requirement which must be maintained in one form or another. We are scrutinising the Bill's provisions most carefully and will be taking necessary action."
The composition of governing bodies was "left to be covered in regulations to be made under the Bill, but it does lay down certain requirements for county and voluntary schools.
"These will entail changes in aided school governing bodies where at present governors are either foundation -appointed by the diocese or the order concerned in the case of Catholic schools — or representative governors appointed by local authorities.
"In future there are to be parent and teacher governors in addition in both county and voluntary schools, so that there will be four categories of governors in aided schools. However, the foundation governors are to outnumber the others by two if the governing body has 18 or fewer members, and by three if' it has more."
On admissions to schools, the bill provided for information to be given to parents about schools and admission arrangements, and for parents to have an opportunity to express a preference for a school.
Local authorities and govcr nors, as the MSC might be, were
required to endeavour to comply with any preference expressed, subject to certain qualification. They were also required to give parents the opportunity to object to a refusal of admission and to have arrangements for reviewing decisions in the light of a parent's objection. A parent who was dissatisfied with the result would have the right of appeal to the Secretary of State.
Sr Josephine FCJ, the head of Gumley House Convent School in Isleworth Middlesex, said that she knew that many head teachers were very worried about the possible effects of the Bill.
"If you look at the organisation of Catholic secondary education, it is clear that not an awful lot of thought was given to the local authorities immediately around the schools," she said. "Consequently the whole structure of Catholic education could be seriously threatened".
Sr Josephine asked how Mrs Williams could reconcile the Bill with her recent speech at the Catholic Herald conference on education when she spoke strongly in favour of the dual system and praised the contribution of Catholic schools,