On Saturday 2nd February 2008, in the Bute Hall of the University of Glasgow, Rt. Hon. Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, delivered the Cardinal Winning Education Lecture.
The title of his lecture was: ‘Celebrating Catholic education: reflections on partnership from 1918 to date, and beyond’. The lecture was hosted by the University’s Department of Religious Education.
The thrust of this lecture was, indeed, celebratory. The First Minister highlighted the contributions which faith schools can make to Scottish society by endowing children with: a strong moral foundation; a positive and distinctive identity; a keen sense of personal responsibility; a strong commitment to helping others; belief in the basic principle that each of us can make a positive contribution in the world.
“The record of Catholic schools in Scotland,” said the First Minister, is “second to none.” Moreover, Catholic schools help children to gain “a wider sense of responsibility and identity and a desire to help improve the community in which they live.”
The First Minister criticised attitudes of grudging tolerance and outright hostility towards Catholic education in Scotland. “It is time,” he said “to welcome the contribution that faith based education can make to Scottish education.”
He ended the lecture by saying: “Today I am proud to join with you in celebrating the particular contribution of Catholic schools to our society, to our education system, and to this country.”