Catholic schools are “more relevant than ever”, Scotland’s leading historian has told Tes Scotland on the 100th anniversary of their entry into the state sector.
However, others remain sceptical that Catholic schools are capable of adapting to societal changes such as the demand for education that is inclusive of LGBT young people.
Historian Sir Tom Devine told Tes Scotland that “Changes in society make the purpose of Catholic schools greater because these schools are not simply about education. They are not just about the academic development of the child. They are also about the spiritual development of the child.”
Figures uncovered by Tes Scotland show that rolls have held up better in Catholic schools than non-denominational schools, and Sir Tom believes the increasing diversity of their pupil population is “an enormous vote of confidence from the public”.
However, Tes Scotland has previously reported the concerns of LGBT activists who attended Catholic schools and said that little was done to tackle homophobia, and that schools were continuing to promote anachronistic sex education that does not help pupils to deal with issues of sexuality.
Cara Spence, a member of LGBT Youth Scotland’s leadership team, said LGBT-inclusive work in Catholic schools was “absolutely possible”, and that there is not only a moral obligation for schools to be inclusive but also a legal one. She added: “A small number of Catholic schools have taken steps to be LGBT-inclusive”.
Father Michael McMahon, who advises schools on religious education, told last week’s annual conference in Edinburgh of the Catholic Headteachers’ Association of Scotland said “If the [sexual] act is not ordered towards creation, then it is not procreative and therefore it is not a legitimate expression of sexuality, as far as we are concerned.”
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