The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools could soon be dismantled as part of a sweeping review of Northern Ireland administration. Among a number of other changes to be announced next Tuesday, the Review of Public Administration has proposed that the CCMS should be downgraded to an advisory role.
The CCMS runs the Catholic schools and employs 8,500 teachers for its 500 schools. Many Catholic school representatives have written to the government, protesting the proposed downgrading of the CCMS. The schools say they are concerned that it is a threat to the ethos of Catholic education.
Education Minister Angela Smith told the BBC that the changes were proposed to “reduce the administrative burdens” and would not threaten the Catholic ethos in schools.
Smith met with the bishops to discuss the issue and said she did not believe that the government and the church are on “a collision course.”
"I can give them absolute reassurance, in terms of what they are concerned about, of maintaining the ethos and the character of their schools, they will not notice any difference," she reportedly said CCMS chief executive Donal Flanagan said to remove their input would diminish educational standards.
"Teachers and ethos are inextricably linked and we want the right to be able to appoint teachers who are committed to the aims of a Catholic education,” said Flanagan.
The review is the largest examination in more than 30 years of the organisation and delivery of public services in the province.