In an extensive submission to North Lanarkshire Council’s recent consultation on school provision, the newly appointed Bishop of Motherwell, Bishop Joseph Toal, has raised “significant concerns” about North Lanarkshire Council’s “commitment to provide Catholic schooling” and promised to “stand together with the Catholic community” in opposing proposals which would dramatically reduce the number of Catholic schools in the diocese.
In a letter to the Council which accompanies a lengthy submission delivered to the Chief Executive today (Friday, 2 May 2014), Bishop Toal says that proposals to alter the school estate provision have been “carefully considered, together with the consequences that these might have for the pupils, teachers, families and communities involved”. The Bishop adds: “In the past few weeks the Diocese has met representatives from schools, parishes and the local communities and I have listened to their views on the matter.” The formal response from the Diocese of Motherwell then lists a series of “significant concerns about what some of these proposals might suggest about the Council’s commitment to provide Catholic schooling on an equitable basis within this Diocese.”
The submission points out that at public meetings NLC officers claimed that larger secondary schools are necessary to ensure adequate curriculum provision. Yet, they are content to have non-denominational schools with rolls as small as 414 in one case and fewer than 700 in 4 other cases. Across the authority Catholic secondary school rolls would be on average one third larger than non-denominational schools. This is highlighted by the Diocese, as “inequitable treatment of pupils attending Catholic schools.”
In asking for a reconsideration of their proposals, the Bishop assures the council, “that the Diocese will always be keen to work in partnership with the Council to ensure the best provision of services to the community.”
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