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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 July, 2004, 21:29 GMT 22:29 UK
Should Catholic schools share campuses?
The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has withdrawn support for plans to create seven shared campuses for Catholic and non-denominational schools in North Lanarkshire.

The church has expressed strong opposition to having too many shared facilities and common entrances.

However, in February, Scotland's first shared campus between a Roman Catholic and non-denominational secondary school was officially opened.

For this current scheme, discussions with North Lanarkshire Council had taken place over an 18 month period.

But the future of the campuses was thrown into disarray when the Right Rev Joseph Devine, Bishop of Motherwell, said the church could not go ahead with the proposal.

We asked if the church was right to be concerned or should it accept the economic and social case for integration? And did you think that bringing together Roman Catholic and non-denominational schools would result in more tolerance and better understanding, or should religious schools be kept separate?


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we received:

Why are the Catholic Church allowed to have a say in our children's education? I feel integration and no segregation is the way forward for Scotland. As the slogan goes "One Nation, Many cultures" So why not have "One School, many cultures".
Stuart Smith, Glasgow, Scotland

All education should be secular. In addition lessons should be based on the facts (evolution) rather than a myth (creationism). It's a disgrace that Tony Blair evaded this question when asked recently.
Nigel, Edinburgh

Yes they should remain distinctive. Catholic schools don't just provide an education they help form caring and responsible citizens. I would rather my children were educated in a faith environment, rather than in a school where there were no defined values.
Elizathbeth Myers, East Kilbride

The issue of shared campuses is bigger than denominational schools versus non-denominational schools. Look at the example in Argyll and Bute recently where the proposal to merge two non-denominational schools was met with local opposition. There is nothing wrong with denominational education in Scotland, especially Catholic Schools. Anyone from any faith or no faith background can go to a non-denominational school or a denominational school. There is a choice, people seem to be unaware of this fact. And for those who say non-denominational schools breeds sectarianism, I ask you where the evidence of this is? The Executive preaches a diverse and multi-cultural society for modern Scotland. Excellent, but still people want to see denominational education, namely Catholic schools, in Scotland banned.
Jonathan, Glasgow

The Church didn't even gain anything from their attempts with me at religious instruction - I'm now a happy, well adjusted Pagan.
Jack,Leeds

The intransigence of the Roman Catholic Church beggars belief. As long as we have schools divided along religious grounds we will always have sectarianism. This is indefensible both morally and financially. If a certain grouping wishes to maintain their 'own' schools then let them pay for it. Go ahead and build the schools and if the Catholics don't want to send their kids then tough luck. Let them make other arrangements.
David Watson, Helensburgh

Sectarianism which is still rife in Scotland today is taught in the home by Adults ignorant of the facts and whom have ironically never set foot in any church; the opposite is taught in Catholic Schools. By trying to hide the fact that Catholics exist in Scotland won't solve the problem. Catholic Schools work as they teach decent moral standards (whether you agree with them or not, at least you know where they stand on issues) and perform academically better than non-denom schools....Why do you think there are large numbers of non-Catholics attending them!!
Stuart, Edinburgh

It is really sad that in the 21st century, certain people want to segregate children from the age of five. Shame on them. The Berlin wall has come down, communism is dead, apartheid is no more. Let's get rid of these schools. One school for all!!
stef, Cumbernauld Scotland

I went to Catholic schools, primary and secondary, in Gourock, Scotland. Thus I learned through peer pressure at the age of eight that "proddy-dogs" (Protestants) were the enemy to be hated. Having separate schools causes nothing but bigotry and sectarianism, and the sooner they are abolished the better. The Church didn't even gain anything from their attempts with me at religious instruction - I'm now a happy, well adjusted Pagan.
Jack, Leeds, UK

I am strongly opposed to protestant children having to share campuses with Catholic children. I would never send my children to a Catholic-run school under any circumstances
K.SCOTT, STIRLING,SCOTLAND

It is not about teaching a religion, but imparting an ethos or a way of life. A way of life is not taught, like a subject, but is gradually learned by example, and teaching.
Nick Dochnenko

Although there are many fine people have attended and taught at these schools, there is no doubt that the RC Church's intransigence on this matter causes great offence to most decent people.

In my view, this religious apartheid, brought in at the age of 5, is the single biggest cause of religious bigotry in Scotland, and the 1918 Education Act should be repealed without further delay.
Colin Glass, Bearsden, United Kingdom

Having just returned from a weekend in my hometown of Larkhall and, as someone born protestant, I suggest anyone opposed to the shared campus idea (be they catholic, protestant or Martian) takes a walk around Larkhall and observes the latest fashion in home improvement - flagpoles merrily flying Red Hand of Ulster flags. When are we Scots going to grow out of this garbage ? The next generation deserve better
Alan, ex-Larkhall, now England

The European Convention on Human Rights (Protocol 1, Art 2) guarantees parents the right to choose education "in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions". Abolishing Catholic schools would violate parents' human rights.
Dominic Robertson, Oxford

Personally I think there is no place for any type of religious segregation in education. I went to school in the far north and segregated schools were not available. Bigotry was rare and your religious background wasn't an issue.
Rowan, Paisley

I find myself increasingly angry at the RC Church as a former RC school student myself. Dividing children because of religion is a divisive, backward and utterly medieval concept. However to win the argument for an end to segregated education has to be done with the Catholic community not in spite of it.
Mairtin Delaney, Glasgow

It is correct that the Catholic Church has the interest of parents and pupils at heart. It is not about teaching a religion, but imparting an ethos or a way of life. A way of life is not taught, like a subject, but is gradually learned by example, and teaching. The Catholic Church does not, and cannot teach intolerance and bigotry. This goes against its very fabric. Therefore separate schools do not have a bearing on this. Bigotry can only come from parents and the home.
nick dochnenko, Glasgow, Scotland

I can't understand why the Catholic Church has so much influence
Lynne, Newport Beach, CA

It is a shame that our Catholic brethren still persist in promoting 19th century Irish politics, which have no place in our modern Scotland. Those who support such policies should count the amount of Catholic MPs and MSPs and they would quickly see where the bigotry is in protestant Scotland. I would urge our Catholic brothers and sisters to take the log from their eyes; before finding the speck in the eye of their fellow Scots.
James Hamilton, Falkirk Scotland

In the year 2004, it seems ludicrous that this situation of separate schools, never mind campuses, for children continues to exist. It's archaic, unnecessary and also advocates social isolation rather than integration. The Government want the people of Scotland to be tolerant of other cultures, and rightly so, but how can we teach our children to welcome a foreign religion/culture when we've been encouraging our children to be wary of difference by virtue of the status quo in education. It's time the Catholic church joined the last century, never mind this century.
William McCarron, Glasgow, Scotland

I been born and raised in Glasgow. I agree with the church that campuses should NOT be shared.
A C Masterson, London, England

Why should the taxpayers pay for what is really private schools. We are probably the only country in the world who have separate schools. Other countries do very well with all children attending the same schools. There would be more money available. And it surprises me that a priest can dictate to the authorities. The children are the ones who would benefit from the shared campuses.
maria, glenboig Scotland

The media say the RC Church has put a veto on given plans in North Lanarkshire. Can someone point to the law that gives them that veto? The plans can and must be pushed through.
John Maloney, Wishaw

I can't understand why the Catholic Church has so much influence! Tax money should not be used for their schools! That is the Church's responsibility to support and subsidise through tuition! My 4 children have all attended Lutheran Schools in California with an annual tuition of about 4,000 per student. We chose this and paid for our decision of a "church" school.
Lynne, Newport Beach, CA, USA

Segregation means division. Can anyone dispute that? Why segregate and divide kids at age four? How can that be a good thing?
Helen Maxwell, Greenock

Shared campuses are a necessity for today's children to grow and understand tolerance and not bigotry.
Iain Steven, Bridge of Weir

It is time to move away from separate denominational schools. It would be much better for all children to be educated together regardless of their denomination or none. Why should one denomination in Scotland have the privilege of exerting such an influence over the education system?
Alan, North Yorkshire

It is a source of constant bemusement that the Catholic Church in Scotland denies that the sectarianism that blights our society has anything to do with separate schooling. Where else do our children learn to hate each other so bitterly?
Ian Lowe, Airdrie, Scotland

Shared campuses are a necessity for today's children to grow and understand tolerance and not bigotry. With falling school rolls and birth rates we cannot hold onto separate campuses, unless the Catholic Church will foot the bill for maintaining the separation. This smacks of religious separatism, so how can tolerance and understanding be fostered in such an atmosphere? My children mixed and played for 5 years with all denominations. Then Wham! At five their friends are split up and are not allowed to go to the same school. Try explaining this to a five-year-old. Then in the same breath explain football bigotry.
Iain Steven, Bridge of Weir, Scotland, Currently in Houston Texas

Education and Religion should never be mixed. The taxpayer should never be forced to pay for indoctrination into any given religion whether that is Church of Scotland, Catholic, Islamic, Hindu, whatever. If a parent is so concerned that their child be educated in their religion they should do so, however, it should never interfere in actual education such as Maths or English. The parent should see to it outwith school hours, or each church could start after-school classes in their particular religion. The general population should not have to fund any of it. Secularism (separation of church and state) is required here.
Jenni, Scotland

Education is one of the most important items on the agenda of government and citizens . The current system of having separate religious schools beggars belief. What on earth do the children read into this. Let's move forward and have an educational system that is world beating, our kids will thank us.
David Bell,

I am surprised that our society on one hand encourages religious and cultural diversity but does not extend it to Catholics who must not cultivate their belief unless they do it in private
John, San Francisco

I read some of the comments on this page and they all seem to accuse the Catholic Church of bigotry, ignorance and promoting sectarianism. Yet these very commentators display much intolerance and not a little ignorance themselves. Catholics, we must remember, pay taxes for schools as well. They wish their children to be brought up with a high quality of education in which their values and beliefs are shared and taken seriously - where 'God' is not an embarrassing word. This is why the Catholic Church worries about the 'character' of its schools being changed.
Jimmy, Edinburgh, UK

Allowing any religion to control the way our children are educated is a dangerously outdated idea. Indoctrination should not have to be a part of any child's life. Its flaws can been seen in the sectarian divides of the very communities directly affected by this decision. The separation of religion and education is long overdue.
Ian, Glasgow

I live in Bearsden. We have two Catholic primary schools, but no secondary schools. In the area there are three non-denominational schools. Bearsden Academy is moving into the St Andrew's campus, giving us Catholics no secondary education. I would prefer our own secondary school, but if there was no other option I would be in favour of a shared campus.
Michael Duff, Glasgow, Scotland

I am surprised that our society on one hand encourages religious and cultural diversity but does not extend it to Catholics who must not cultivate their belief unless they do it in private. Don't you see any inconsistency here?
John, San Francisco, USA

Separate church and local government. Abolish all funding for religious schools and let them pay for themselves. In the global year 2004 anything less promotes an "us vs them" mentality and is dysfunctional.
Lynn, Kent

Why is it that the West of Scotland is stuck in a time warp of bigotry on both the Catholic and Protestant side. My own city of Liverpool could easily have gone the same way yet our people happily share two cathedrals of different faiths, the first RC/Anglican primary school in England and prospective newly built joint faith secondary schools. I was christened in the Church of England yet my daughter was baptised a Catholic and will be attending the local RC Infant School's nursery (OFSTED commended) where the staff are nothing short of outstanding.
Kev, Liverpool

Much like government, education should be kept separate from religion.
Bryan, Edinburgh

Scottish Catholic schools are an excellent educational resource that, in general, provide good academic, social and moral education. Separate schooling for different faith groups, is only perceived as an issue in Scotland. Catholic schools do not breed bigotry, that starts at home. Faith, however, is not something that is kept hidden at home. A Catholic child's education forms an important part of their moral development. Logically such development should be nurtured by participating in an educational community of faith which supports the child's and families moral and spiritual beliefs.
Eddie, Strathaven, Scotland

The continued existence of state-funded separate education is frankly, an anachronism in today's world. I for one would be interested to see the results of an independently conducted survey of Catholics who either attend or have children who attend separate schools - let's see just how much support the "dinosaurs" actually have among their own "flock".
John McGrevey, Ex-Motherwell, now Moorpark, CA, USA

It is time for separate schools to go. What better way to end sectarian divisiveness? The church is wrong to obstruct this but they have a vested interest in keeping the strife going.
Frank Hackett, Taylor, Mich USA

Much like government, education should be kept separate from religion. The current situation allows the church to influence a school's curriculum, which can only be detrimental to a child's education. The sex education provided by Catholic schools ("this is a condom, if you wear this you'll burn in hell") is especially poor. Religion is for home not school.
Bryan, Edinburgh

My daughter attends a Catholic primary school although we are protestant. She is a well adjusted child and the emphasis is more on caring for each other and the world around them. The teachers and pupils are a credit to the community. Surely integration at an early age is the best way of avoiding much of the hate and bigotry we see in our adult society.
Rosie Warwick, Dumfriesshire

If the Scottish Parliament is serious in actively promoting ethnic, cultural and religious harmony then the first thing it should address is Orange Walks. Maybe Catholics will be encouraged to be in an all inclusive society when we start to see some of these things removed from our society.
Mary, Edinburgh

Schools should be totally non-denominational in order to achieve the economies that are constantly being demanded of the education authorities.
A Douglas, Erskine

The Scottish Catholic Church equals the biggest promoter of sectarianism in Scotland!
Scott Robertson, Glasgow

Would we even be having this discussion if it was about Islam? No I don't think we would. Whilst I fully support efforts to combat bigotry on both sides of the divide, Catholic schools on the whole out perform non-denominational schools hand over fist. I went to a Catholic primary/high school and our playing fields were opposite the non-denominational school across the road and whilst some pupils did mix it was often a cause for conflict. Leave the Catholic school system alone it works!
Dave Hunter, Erskine Scotland

Why is the Catholic church allowed to continue to get away with its archaic and divisive attitudes? Why do parents continue to support an institution that causes such social chasms and takes religion as its defence? By dividing children from such a young age and continuing to do so until they reach adulthood nothing can be achieved except entrenching division and perpetuating sectarian bigotry. Religion is not a thing that should be 'taught' in schools - children should be informed about it and guided within their own families rather than relying on schools to force them down a path. It is disgusting that in the 21st Century plans for something that will promote further togetherness in a community can be shelved by a religious bigot.
Amy O'Neill, Ex-Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, Scotland, now England

Separate schools are an anachronism in this day and age. Sectarianism and bigotry can only be ended by educating our children together. Religion should be the responsibility of the home and not the school - few people attend church in this day and age. It seems like the Catholic Church is trying to cling onto whatever power it still has.
Beecher, Glasgow

Archaic, pathetic and pointless....
Steve, UK

Separate schools were required and relevant 86 years ago. Like the RC church and other so-called Christian religious organisations, they are irrelevant and an unnecessary expense. They may not cause religious strife, but they do nothing to help end it.
Steven Matthews, Kilsyth. Scotland

I live in Dalkeith have two sons at the campus and there are no problems whatsoever. So the forward thinking Catholic Church cannot agree on the way forward, well there is a surprise! Education and religion should remain separate, indoctrination should take place at home not in the classroom
Bryan, Scotland

There should only be the one curriculum for schools with each school providing religious instruction as required for the pupils it educates. Schools should be totally non-denominational in order to achieve the economies that are constantly being demanded of the education authorities.
A. Douglas, Erskine

All schools have a mandate to work within the community. We do this in Musselburgh with our six primary and on secondary schools but have difficulties with the one catholic primary school as they are usually going down a different route. We have a limited religious problem within our educational community but if we had shared campuses tolerance will then be fought head on by our children and one day be there will be a significant decrease in bigotry.
Douglas Johnstone, Wallyford, East Lothian

I understand that many people do wish to see their children raised within their faith, but feel that such education should not be at the taxpayers expense.
Max Russell, Glasgow

Kids of different religions/cultures should be educated together as much as possible otherwise the sectarian and racist viewpoints will continue to cause discord in society as a whole. Fine, allow them to have separate RE classes but surely chemistry, maths and English are the same for both!
Dom M, London (ex Glasgow)

In this modern era where the government is actively promoting ethnic, cultural and religious harmony I see no place for separate Catholic schools. Surely integration at an early age is the best way of avoiding much of the hate and bigotry we see in our adult society.
James Snoddy, Gourock, Scotland

I understand that many people do wish to see their children raised within their faith, but feel that such education should not be at the taxpayers expense. Surely given that we want to have a greater amount of integration between all religions & ethnic backgrounds, maintaining a state sponsored divide is ridiculous? Kids should be growing up together; not with us and them schooling.
Max Russell, Glasgow

I believe ignorance breeds prejudice. There is no justifiable reason for segregating children based on what church they go (or don't go to for that matter). In this day and age where religion is so irrelevant to many peoples lives, there should be a complete separation of church and state. Religion is a choice and if the parents want to teach a specific religion to their children at home or at church, that is their choice, but I don't see why taxpayers should have to subsidise parents who want to give their children an education based on their religion.
Neil Curran, Seoul, South Korea

Scotland is a modern nation with a ancient schooling system.
John Dillon, New York

Diversity and acceptance of others is Catholic teaching. After all it is a Catholic (Universal) church and made up of members from all over the world.
Janet O'Brien, Aberystwyth, Wales

And you wonder why there is a divide in our society! Another mistake by the church. Another chance to integrate future generations has gone. How long must we wait? Compromise is a word often spoken but never acted on
David, Edinburgh

If anything in this country encourages bigotry it is the insistence of the Catholic church on separate schools. Religion is a personal matter and should not be imposed on others. And surely, with money being so tight in education, our elected representatives can see the benefit to everyone in merging schools; they have the power to do what the majority of taxpaying Citizens clearly want... one system for all.
Charles Cavaye, Edinburgh

In a time when money is scarce, it is disappointing that the catholic church demands so much of the money at the expense of others. Surely it would be better for our children to have one large campus with better facilities and equipment than 2 smaller ones with hardly any. Or do our children not deserve the best?
Kathleen, Scotland

As a Catholic I went to Catholic schools in the 50's and early 60's. The alienation this caused in my hometown of Cowdenbeath was painful. Scotland is a modern nation with a ancient schooling system. The church has no place in the education of our children. if Scotland is serious about ending sectarianism the MSPs should end state funding of denominational schools
John Dillon, New York USA

Saying you are different because your parents were catholic and thus must go to a different school can do nothing else but enhance division. The naked self-interest of the catholic church in Scotland should be seen for what it is, a desire to use state funds to recruit future adherents.
Alisdair Matheson, Glasgow, Scotland

Yes - as a first step to a fully integrated Scottish education system. This form of religious "apartheid" - however much it may have been justified some 90 years ago - is well past its sell by date. Such a move would - over time -help to heal some of our small country's sectarian problems.
Gerry Smith, Edinburgh, Scotland

The intransigence of the Roman Catholic Church beggars belief. As long as we have schools divided along religious grounds we will always have sectarianism.
David Watson, Helensburgh

It's about time the law in Scotland was changed. We cannot allow a tiny minority to dictate like this. We should all attend the one school.
Declan, Airdrie

Why is there so much emphasis on the need to integrate? Can't we just leave things as they are? If it is not broken then why fix it? Human nature dictates that there are differences in every one of us so why do we endeavour to mix up these differences and create a cloned society?
James McDonald, Glasgow, Scotland

Why is this only a problem in Scotland, and maybe Northern Ireland. Look at Canada and America. There are plenty of Catholic schools over there and no bigotry on the levels found in Scotland. It is the Scottish people, not the system that causes the problem.
John, Erskine




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SEE ALSO:
Church blocks shared campus plans
22 Jul 04  |  Scotland



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