By Maureen Vincent
THE DROP in population growth in this country, both now and in projected levels, has been alarming many students in teachers' training colleges.
Not only ,those already in training or about to qualify, but also reoplc considering taking Up teaching are beginning to
worry about rumours of hie 1 e over-production of teachers.
But Mr Elfer, Director of the Westminster Catholic Schools Commission, believes there is a great deal of misinformation about this situation.
Stressing that he could only speak for the part of inner London covered by the archdiocese of Westminster, he said: "Despite the falling population in inner London, we expect our Catholic schools to remain full, simply by taking in a bigger proportion of Catholic children.
"We hope that by the early 19808 we shall be catering for 75 per cent of our children then present in the area, whereas at present we can take not much in excess of 50 per cent."
Tt is estimated that between 1974 and 1980, the total number of children attending all primary schools in inner London will drop from 225,452 to 168,478. However Mr Lifer gives the equivalent figures for Catholic primary schools as being 29,925 in 1974 and 28,207 by 1980.
"Although the total child Catholic population is falling." says Mr Elfer, "by attracting
higher numbers into our schools we expect to keep their numbers fairly constant.
"1 feel concerned over the present anxiety ahout the teaching profession becoming overcrowded, since on our figures we anticipate that the demand for Catholic teachers will remain at least constant for the foreseeable future."
Mr Fifer feels that it would be a matter for regret if all the places at Catholic training
colleges were not filled. "I would not like our Catholic youngsters to be frightened off going into the teaching profession by the figures being bandied about on projected population growth at the moment.
"Obviously there will be a drop in the total consumption
of teachers in this country, but that is by no means to say that the drop will he in the same proportion for Catholic teachers."
Mr R. F. Cunningham, Secretary of the Catholic
Education Council, also emphasised that London is a special case. "A drop in popula
tion figures could entail less need for teachers in the centre of cities, but more for teaching posts on the outskirts of large centres.
"The Government projection is a continuing need for a plann ed volume of teacher training which is being gradually reduced. We shall still have
need of teachers in Catholic schools, although the situation will be uneven from area to area because of movement of population."