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EDITIONS
 Monday, 13 January, 2003, 10:43 GMT
Scrap Catholic schools, says poll
Child in class - generic
Jack McConnell reiterated his support for faith schools
Almost half of Scots believe state-funded Catholic schools should be abolished, according to a new opinion poll.

The System Three poll carried out for The Herald newspaper said 48% of those questioned supported scrapping denominational schools - which are almost all Catholic in Scotland.

The survey of 1,030 people also suggested that 29% of Roman Catholics were in favour of abolition.

However, First Minister Jack McConnell repeated his endorsement of Catholic schools.

The Catholic school system in Scotland teaches consistently high standards of discipline and achievement.

First Minister Jack McConnell
He responded to the findings by saying education systems "cannot be designed by opinion polls".

He said: "The Catholic school system in Scotland teaches consistently high standards of discipline and achievement and tampering with that system would be very wrong because so many children benefit from that quality of education."

Support for retaining Catholic schools was highest among young adults questioned.

Half of 18-to-24 year olds backed the schools, and just 39% wanted to see them scrapped.

Among 55-to-64 year olds, 57% believed Catholic schools should come to an end.

Ethos and identity

And 55% of men called for their abolition, compared to 42% of women favouring such a move.

Mr McConnell has praised the achievements of faith schools in the past, and he has consistently ruled out scrapping Catholic schools.

However, in December the first minister said he would like to see more Catholic and non-denominational schools sharing the same campus facilities, such as sports grounds or dinner areas.

The Catholic Church said the idea of shared campuses was not one of its preferred options, although it backed them in some areas, provided "the ethos and identity" of the Catholic school was maintained.

More than 90% of Catholic parents make use of Catholic schools and 80% of parents believe the provision of those schools to be an important issue, according to the Church.

Denominational schools in Scotland
There are 418 publicly-funded Catholic schools in Scotland
Catholic schools account for 15% of all public sector schools.
There are three Episcopalian schools in the public sector
Scotland has one publicly-funded Jewish school
There are currently 418 publicly-funded Catholic schools in Scotland, accounting for approximately 15% of all publicly-funded schools.

In addition there are three Episcopalian schools and one Jewish school in the public sector.

The number of faith schools in the independent (private) sector includes two Muslim schools and a range of Christian schools.

It is open to any denomination to ask an education authority to establish a school to be run along particular denominational lines.

Education authorities are not obliged to provide such schools.

However, they must have regard to the general principle that children should be educated in accordance with their parents' wishes so far as that is compatible with the provision of suitable instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure.

All schools run by education authorities in Scotland are required to be open to pupils of all denominations.

See also:

12 Jan 03 | Scotland
22 Sep 02 | Scotland
21 Jun 02 | Scotland
17 May 02 | Scotland
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