100 years of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1918

Stephen J. McKinney

The Education (Scotland) Act, 1918 is regarded as a key moment in the move towards full state funding for Catholic schools in Scotland. This article provides some insights into the historical context of the Act, the implications of the Act for Catholic schools in Scotland and the retention of a distinct Catholic denominational school status. Prior to the Act, the voluntary Catholic schools were maintained by heroic fundraising efforts, careful management, the self-sacrifice of teachers and in many cases by the expertise of the religious order and congregations. Post Act, the gradual move to full integration of the Catholic schools would lead to the state-funded Catholic school system that operates in contemporary Scotland. Stephen McKinney is Professor of Education in the School of Education, University of Glasgow and visiting Professor of Catholic Education at Newman University.

This year marks the centenary of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1918. This Act is of fundamental importance in the process towards full state-funded Catholic schooling in Scotland. While the Catholic community commemorates the Act and the legacy of the Act, it is instructive to revisit the events leading up the Act, the Act itself and the immediate effects of the Act. This article will commence with an examination of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1872. This Act offered the opportunity for Catholic schools to become part of the state-funded school system.

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