Monday, March 30, 2009

Cardinal Brady warns on state school appointments

The Church is on a collision course with the North's education authorities on the vexed question of who appoints teachers to Catholic schools.

In exchanges with politicians at Stormont last week, Cardinal Seán Brady said the Church had ''significant'' problems with the move to revert such appointments to state control.

''We have significant reservations about our ability to support key aspects of the new Education Bill. As Trustees of catholic schools we have a duty to strive to ensure that this right of parents is adequately respected and provided for in the Bill'', he told Stormont politicians.

Becoming the first Catholic Primate ever to address the NI legislature, Cardinal Brady spent two hours outlining the misgivings which the NI Commission for Catholic Education has about the new legislation.

''The proposal that the Education and Skills Authority will be the employer of all staff in all schools is unacceptable. This is a fundamental impediment to the ability of owners/ Trustees to exercise their right and duty to promote and safeguard the ethos and defining character of a school,'' the cardinal said.

''To exercise our duties as Trustees adequately, we require that the Board of Governors of each school shall be the legal employer of all staff in the school. As it stands, the proposal in the draft Bill appears to run counter to the principle of giving maximised autonomy to schools and ensuring the ethos of the schools,'' the cardinal pointed out.

The NICCE represents the Trustees of the NI Catholic schools - a network of some 550 nursery, primary and post-primary schools.

The Church has also crossed swords with Education Minister Caitríona Ruane over plans for the transfer of pupils from primary to secondary schools in the North.

Church leaders have expressed frustration about the lack of guidance from the department on the issue.

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Sotto Voce

(Source: IC)

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