THE Church has been criticised for ineffective organisation of lobbying within Parliament on behalf of Catholic schools.
The allegation was made last week at the Catholic Teachers' Federation Conference by the Conservative MP for Basildon, David Amess.
Mr Amess told the conference that more sophisticated lobbying, especially in the House of Commons, may prove more effective than the usual means, which include devices like cyclo-styled letters.
Hand-written letters, according to David Amess, are far more likely to be noted by MPs. He also hoped that specific members could be associated with the issue of Church-aided schools, so that interested groups would know exactly where to look for help.
The conference was also concerned with the possibility of a national curriculum being imposed on schools without proper consultation with Church-affected bodies.
Mr Ernest Shields, past President of the Federation, addressed this problem in a 'speech to the conference. "All connected with Church Schools", he said, "should be demanding that any curriculum to be imposed by statute should not be in conflict with the aims and ethos of our schools."
Mr Shields also urged the Federation to ensure that the new curriculum would not be introduced in the same way that the GCSE examination had been. He described the introduction of the GCSE as "nothing short of a scandal", adding "a generation of children could be seriously disadvantaged".
The conference also learned about the pressure experienced by school governors. Brian
Duffy of the Federation explained to the Catholic Herald
that governors are expected to produce annual reports, but noone takes responsibility for financing these reports.
Said Mr Duffy, "In a school of 1200 students, the cost of this can be quite considerable".
Fears were also voiced over the plans for national testing.
Many felt that raw lists of examination achievements could be easily misconstrued, and were worried that no account would be taken of social background in the publication of results.
Tony Smith of ILEA addressed the conference held at St Mary's College, Strawberry Hill, London, and claimed that some of the government's present legislation was aimed at weakening the power of local authorities.