PLANS to celebrate 100 years of state-funded Catholic education in Glasgow have been slammed.

Lord Provost Eva Bolander will host a civic reception later this year to mark the centenary of the Education (Scotland) Act 1918, which introduced public funding to Catholic schools.

Church bosses have welcomed the move, insisting that faith schools are good for Scotland.

But campaign group, the Scottish Secular Society, have hit out at the move, claiming that Catholic schools should be scrapped.

John Duncan, Vice Chairman of the group, said: “Dividing children based on the religious views of their parents is a sure-fire way of preserving discrimination in this country.

“State-funded Catholic schools existed in the beginning to combat anti-Catholic discrimination in Scotland. But it has gone on too long and it has created and shored up divisions.

“We would like to see the end of faith schools.”

Glasgow’s education convener, Chris Cunningham, claimed that Catholic schools were “welcoming” and “inclusive” to all faiths.

But Mr Duncan added: “I would assume what Mr Cunningham means by that isn’t just that they accept children from all faiths but they accept their views. If that was really the case you’ve got to question what the point in Catholic schools is. Surely that would make them nothing more than a comprehensive school.”

When challenged on whether he had any proof that Catholic schools were inclusive, Mr Cunningham said: “I have to say I have absolutely no evidence to the contrary, which I think in itself is quite significant.

“The Education Scotland Act of 1918 represented a watershed moment in Scottish education but also in our overall social history.

“The predominantly Irish immigrant community, pushed from Ireland by famine or the great hunger, and pulled to Scotland’s shores by the industrialisation and its demand for labour, became further integrated into the mainstream of Scottish society.

“Like any successful immigration experience, it changed both the host population and the new arrivals. We are a different and a more tolerant Scotland today than we were those 100 years ago.

“Throughout that time Catholic schools have continued to grow and prosper and make a valued contribution to our wider society.

“They are inclusive and welcoming to those of other faiths, or indeed to no faith. Both this council and the church should take pride in that inclusivity.”

A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow added: “We are delighted that the City Council is to offer a civic reception to mark the 1918 act which brought Catholic schools into the state system of education in Scotland.

“Glasgow has more Catholic schools than any city in Scotland and the contribution of pupils and staff over the last century to the life of the city has been enormous.

“The First Minister acknowledged very powerfully, in her Cardinal Winning lecture last month that Catholic schools are good for Scotland.

“This decision by the city administration is an acknowledgement that they are also good for Glasgow.”