Friday, 1 May 2009

Catholic education: challenges and possibilities

Francis Davis and Nathan Koblintz of the Las Casas Institute on Ethics, Governance and Social Justice at Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford have published a paper called Mutual Futures. Ed Balls, Michael Gove And The Challenge To Faith Schools. The paper looks at various current threats to Catholic education and makes some important suggestions for policy in response to Michael Gove's proposals for mutual schools.

The paper summarises three current regulatory and legislative threats that have "slipped under the radar" in recent concerns about secularisation. First, although the "Building Schools for the Future" programme has provided for 100% of capital costs, the new (and compulsory) Primary Capital Programme will require a 10% contribution. If dioceses are unable to meet this cost, schools may be forced into "controlled" status.

The second challenge is the reduction in insurance cover for voluntary aided schools that could end up costing the Church up to £20 million. Thirdly, there is the problem of ring fencing of funds by local authorities that could prevent dioceses from re-allocating resources in response to changing needs within an area that covers several local authorities.

Davis and Koblintz argue that the Church in England and Wales should lobby in favour of Catholic schools being in the first wave of the new mutual schools movement if the Conservative party is elected or if Labour extends its present pilot.
In such a scenario we want to suggest the creation of a national Catholic educational mutual comprising a network of 22 mutual societies based on the Dioceses: an institutional development that will open up a huge vista for innovation and freedom within Catholic education. The assets of all Catholic and other voluntary aided schools could be transferred into these mutuals in an asset transfer that is underpinned by secure long-term funding.
See also coverage on the front page of the Catholic Herald this week: Ed Balls asks Catholics to foot £100m school bill.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...