Friday, November 21, 2008

There is so much jargon today about schools and education ...

...but the talk yesterday by the deputy headmaster of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in London was simply terrific. Amusing, forthright, forward-looking and with a positive outlook - and taking no prisoners in the battle against silly slogans. He rattled through a tally of them at one point - things like "social inclusion" and "personalised learning"... Promoters of a secularist agenda, he said "take a term with which no one will disagree and them rob it of all meaning". There is a campaign to marginalise the Church from Britain's educational system which at the moment is gathering all before it - "a never-ending centralisation masquerading as not being monolithic."

But did I say he had a positive outlook? Yes, and he has -emphasising that it is up to us, as Catholics, to be clear about the reality of Catholic schools: they should be places where true learning, Christ-centred learning,thrives. We should not in any way try to downgrade the centrality of the Catholic Faith in Catholic schools but to explain and promote it with clarity and courage. Catholic schools can be there for the future, precisely because they are intrinsically able to respond to the needs of each new era and generation in a way that others cannot: "Only the unchanging enables us to change. The certainties of the Church enable us to steer a course as we tack through time and history."

The meeting was organised by the Association of Catholics in Education. Worth clicking on that link and keeping in touch.


Anonymous said...

I think there's a great opportunity. The government doesn't know what to do with education, but balsts off initiative after initiative, sometimes damagingly, as with the recent demand to make sex education compulsory (except post-16 !), more often absurdly, as with the music strategy for schools.

If we insisted that Catholic schools would be truly independent, teaching their own curriculum, which I hope would include Latin, as well as separate sciences, and no 'personal development' and similar for top sets (subjects like that have their place for those who are never going to succeed academically), then I think the government would be glad to see a problem taken off their hands, and the schools would be more successful than they are now.

Anonymous said...

If you insisted that Catholic schools were truly independent, Malcolm, they wouldn't be State schools and would receive no funding from the State.

Anonymous said...

"Truly independent" is a bit strong. If government pays they will want some influence.

However I think we could probably get a block grant based on the number of children in the Catholic system, to be paid to the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster's account, and be told to get on with it.