The Scottish Government has reiterated its support for Catholic schools and said they are a key part of its efforts to end child poverty.
Cabinet Secretary for Education Shirley-Anne Somerville told the annual conference of The Catholic Head Teachers Association in Scotland (CHAS) in Crieff that she was there to reiterate her government’s support for Catholic schools and ‘work with you as together we try to close the attainment gap’.
She was one of a number of speakers at the conference, the first since the pandemic, which was a key theme, along with the mental health of young people and teacher recruitment. National Clinical Director Jason Leitch spoke on the second day and said ‘we’re not post pandemic’.
“But I don’t think schools will close again,” he said. “We are in a strong position. Vaccinations are making a difference here and we need to deliver that globally.”
Lisa Perotti, the Chair of CHAS, said meeting in person ‘makes such a difference as we share our experiences and talk about how we can improve our schools.’
She also said that mental health was a huge issue in schools, among pupils, staff and families after Covid. “We’re noticing that many young people are really struggling with being back in a school setting,” she said.
“After such a long time they have been so disconnected.”
Barbara Coupar, Director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service, told attendees that Catholic schools didn’t mean ‘schools for Catholics’.
“Many non-Catholics have chosen to be part of our school communities, as pupils families and staff,” she said. “And it’s key we welcome them as a community of love.”
Ms Coupar also told the head teachers about a recent meeting she had with her counterpart in Ukraine who told her that ‘if we are teachers of faith those Ukrainian children currently in our schools will not lose their identity’.