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Minister’s U-turn on RC schools

Scotland’s education minister suffered embarrassment last night after it emerged that he backed the integration of Catholic schools when he was a teacher.

Hugh Henry, the Labour MSP for Paisley South, declared his opposition to religious segregation in the classroom at the same time as he worked in a Catholic school.

He also claimed that his colleagues at Bellarmine secondary school in Glasgow supported abolition but were “scared” to come forward and voice opposition to the status quo.

The revelations from Henry’s past come as he tries to defend a 2453 majority from the Nationalists on May 3.

Labour is staunchly in favour of separate schools for Catholics and successive first ministers have defended the current system. But Henry, who was elevated to education minister last November, has had to clear up confusion about his views on faith-based education after his past as an opponent of Catholic schools came to light.

Henry said of his former opposition to segregated education: “I support the retention of Catholic schools and my children attended Catholic schools. They make a very significant contribution to Scottish education.

“I think back then maybe there was an issue about what was being taught in terms of religious education, but there have been improvements since then. My actions have demonstrated my personal as well as my political commitment to the retention of Catholic education.”

A spokesman for the Catholic Church said: “Sadly, EIS resolutions on the abolition of Catholic schools have become a perennial of Scottish education. We would hope that with age would come wisdom and maturity, and the Hugh Henry of today would endorse the benefits of Catholic schools.”

• Full story at the Sunday Herald.

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