Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Faith schools

Ah, government movement at last.

The title of links to the recent Department of Education press announcement "JOHNSON WELCOMES ACTION BY FAITH LEADERS TO EXTEND CHOICE AND SUPPORT COMMUNITY COHESION".

The Church of England, bless its cotton socks, has committed itself to making available at least a quarter of the places in its new schools to non-church families. I find this a most welcome step away from the religious ghettoisation which otherwise threatenes our schools if the proposed expansion of faith schools takes place. The current situation is bad enough -- almost all the Church of England schools round me are totally exclusive, the Catholics of course ditto, making for severe social exclusion because, as ever, the middle classes have learnt how to work the system.

I am going to do my best to support moves to take this further when we get back to the Education Bill the week after next. Firstly, I see no reason why this 25% principle should not apply to all faith schools -- the great Catholic independent schools already have at least that percentage of other denominations and faiths, and suffer not a whit from that. Secondly, we need to make sure that the rules can't be got round -- my local Church of England primary School, for instance, nominally allows 25% of non-church members but, in fact, you also have to qualify as being a child in care or with special educational needs, so the school ends up totally Anglican because none do.

The Catholics will squeak, not least because the shortage of good non-Catholic secondary schools in central London is a marvellous recruiting sergeant for them, but I am determined that we should not end up looking like Glasgow or Northern Ireland when it comes to religious segregation, and that Muslim state schools (to whom the rules should also apply) should be outward looking and welcoming of non Muslims, rather than turned inwards.


Blogger Admin said...

i think you are being very hopeful if you want faith schools to be outward looking!

7:17 pm  

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