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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Church concern over teacher shortage

The Archbishop of Glasgow has issued a plea for Catholic teachers to look to work in the faith’s schools, highlighting a “critical issue” in shortages of teachers and headteachers which could have “significant consequences”.

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, highlighted the issue in a letter to all members of Scotland’s Catholic community.

He called on young people to consider a career in teaching and urged Catholic teachers in non-denominational schools to transfer to Catholic education.

In the letter the archbishop, who is also president of the Scottish Catholic Education Service, addressed the theme of Catholic Education Week 2016, Learning to be merciful. However, he also used the opportunity to appeal for more Catholic teachers.

The archbishop echoed last year’s plea for young people to consider teaching and also urged parents, grandparents and teachers to encourage youngsters to pursue teaching as “a vital career choice”.

He added that the current shortages of teachers and headteachers had led to a further plea for Catholic teachers who are not currently working in Catholic schools to transfer. “My request is this: please seek an appointment in a Catholic school; ask your Council employer for a transfer to a Catholic school. We urgently need committed Catholic teachers to be working in Catholic schools.”

The bishops and advisers have appealed to Scottish Government ministers to ensure that sufficient teachers are being trained to work in Catholic schools. “We are working hard with the University of Glasgow and others to improve the supply of teachers who will be able to contribute to the provision of Catholic education for our children and young people,” said Archbishop Tartaglia.

“I must stress that this is a critical issue which may have significant consequences if we cannot produce more teachers soon.”

Michael McGrath, director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service, spoke of the need for a teaching workforce focused on Catholic education. “For some time now we have been discussing our concerns with the Scottish Government and with other bodies,” he told The Universe. “While we recognise the challenge in recruiting teachers generally, we want to highlight the need for more focused teacher workforce planning to meet the needs of Catholic schools across the country.”

Mr McGrath explained that the Scottish Government has targets for recruiting Gaelic-medium teachers in Gaelic-medium schools and it should be planning something similar for teachers who can deliver Catholic education. “At the same time the Catholic community must be prepared to play its part by encouraging more young people to enter the teaching profession,” he added.

Ronnie Convery, director of communications for the archdiocese of Glasgow told The Universe that the problem is general across Scotland, however, it is much more serious in the east and the north of the country.

“Glasgow and the surrounding area has a higher proportion of Catholics per head of the population, and thus the situation in the west is better.”