Schools past and present

The history of Catholic schools in Scotland

Catholic schools have existed in Scotland for as long as Catholic communities have been established in various parts of the country. Most Catholic schools were founded as Parish schools, funded by the local parish and often housed in the local parish premises.  A number of religious congregations founded schools to provide the benefits of Catholic education, often for the poorest communities.

Today Catholic schools in Scotland are public schools – designated as “denominational schools” because they were, from the 1920s onwards, gradually transferred from Church ownership to State ownership. The 1918 Education Act in Scotland guaranteed the following rights to the Catholic community:

  • Catholic schools were to be funded by the State and open to inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectors;
  • as public schools, Catholic schools were to be open to all, but were expected to retain their own ethos and identity in order to serve the needs of the Catholic community;
  • any teacher appointed to any post was required to be approved by the Church with respect to their “religious belief and character”;
  • the local education authority was to appoint, with the approval of the Church, a Supervisor for Religious Education in Catholic schools.

Catholic schools – a partnership project

Catholic schools today do not exist as an accident of history, the result of a concordat beteeen Church and State in 1918.  They exist – indeed they thrive – because so many parents actively choose Catholic education for their children – approximately 120,000 of them.

The Catholic school is supported in its mission by the active partnership of the home, the school and the parish. Together, they provide support for the faith community, helping to form and develop in all a mature Christian conscience, in addressing the increasingly secular influences of popular culture.  In some areas, where no Catholic schools are available, education in faith is provided in homes and parishes, thanks to the efforts of committed parents, parish clergy and trained catechists.

No. of Catholic schools in Scotland

(updated October 2014)

Primary: 310 Secondary: 53 ASN: 3 Independent: 3 Total: 369

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