Religious influence on state schools ‘could be curtailed’

Photo: Rev David Robertson

Rev David Robertson

SNP plans to transfer powers over state schools away from councils risks marginalising the role of spiritual leaders, senior church figures have warned.

Religious representatives have a legal right to places on local authority education committees, but some churches fear this role will be diminished under new “regional collaboratives” planned to shake up school governance.

It is understood there are no plans to hand religious figures roles on these bodies, with government sources stressing they will be made up of “experienced and talented educators”, The Times reports.

David Robertson, minister at St Peter’s Free Church in Dundee and a former moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, said religious figures should be given places on the new regional collaboratives to maintain the status quo.

He said: “The religious representatives are a minor but nonetheless significant part [of education] and their role must be retained.

“What is happening in Scotland is that the secular humanists have taken over most of the non-denominational schools and are in the process of dismantling from within our traditional Christian system.”

Scots law currently ensures at least three places on local education committees for religious nominees, which reflects the historical roots of the education system north of the border. The Reformation of 1560 led to a drive for a ‘school in every parish’, with the Kirk paying for teachers and buildings.

A Church of Scotland spokesman told The Times it was looking forward to discussions about the regional collaboratives but added that local democratic oversight in education should not be eroded.

• Full story at The Scotsman.