The Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh has warned that a Green Party proposal to strip the Catholic community of its voting rights on the City of Edinburgh’s Education Committee could seriously undermine the harmonious relationship between the Catholic community and the local state who are jointly responsible for the provision of Catholic education in the capital.
“For over a century, the provision of Catholic education in Edinburgh has been a productive partnership between the Catholic community and the city’s council,” said a spokesperson for the Archdiocese, 17 June.
“But now, sadly, that collaborative parity of esteem is being threatened by the Green Party who not only wish to strip the Catholic community of their vote on the local education committee but also seek to abolish Catholic schools in Edinburgh and beyond.”
At present, all local authorities in Scotland must legally have at least three Church representatives on education committees. One of these representatives is drawn from the Catholic community in those local authority areas containing Catholic schools.
Local authorities, however, also have the power to remove voting rights from church representatives. Earlier this year, Perth & Kinross Council became the first in the country to take such a step. Now Edinburgh City Council will consider a similar proposal from the Green Party in August.
It was the 1918 Education (Scotland) Act that brought Catholic schooling into the state system. The law permitted the country’s 224 Catholic schools, serving 94,000 pupils, to retain their distinct religious character in both staffing and curriculum. Thus began a joint partnership between local Catholic communities and their local authorities to provide Catholic education.
At present, around 20% of all pupils in Edinburgh attend Catholic schools with the city containing 15 Catholic primary schools and three Catholic secondary schools.