Selective faith schools – why Labour should say no

November 9, 2012 11:39 am

New Labour left an appalling legacy of the mass expansion of state-funded, discriminatory faith schools. They facilitated the handing over of a large part of state education to the churches and increasingly to minority religious groups – giving them huge freedoms over curriculum, admissions, and staffing. Unfortunately, the Coalition Government is committed to helping many more new religious schools set up, with full support from the public purse. Labour Humanists is actively campaigning within the Labour Party to get rid of the pro-institution, pro-faith, pro-selection, pro-segregation policy towards faith schools. We should restore pride in being the Party that truly supports chances and access to a high quality state education for every child, whether their parents believe in a god or not.

Schools selecting pupils on the basis of the professed faith of the parents are segregating children and young people along religious, socio-economic, cultural, and even ethnic lines. As such, discriminatory faith schools are arguably one of the biggest threats to social cohesion in this country. They also play their part in increasing social inequality, often taking the highest achieving students from their local areas, becoming what are in effect grammar schools by a different name. Their admissions policies also tend to favour those from more affluent backgrounds over children from poorer backgrounds.

To its shame, it was New Labour which kowtowed to the demands of churches and other religious authorities, and fought to support, endorse, and enshrine in law the ‘right’ for faith schools to discriminate in their admissions.

Labour principles mean that whichever family you are born into, whatever your background, you have the right to high quality and inclusive education. A young person’s religious or non-religious beliefs, or those of their parents and wider family, should have no bearing on whether they can attend their local state school. Moreover, dividing up more and more young people along religious and class lines through selection by the ever-expanding faith schools sector is self-evidently bad for society, and clearly against One Nation Labour values.

So under Ed Miliband – who has made his education experience at a normal state school the cornerstone of his public and political persona as leader – here are three policy options for One Nation Labour which could make the situation a lot better.

  1. No new faith school is allowed to select in its admissions.
  2. Faith schools’ existing discriminatory admissions policies are abolished and they cannot apply in future
  3. Scrap compulsory collective worship in all state-funded schools. (Ok, so this one isn’t actually about admissions.) But if we’re going to make sure that faith schools have inclusive intakes and stop discriminating against children on religious grounds, then it doesn’t make sense for schools still to be allowed to make their pupils pray or worship in line with the religion of the school. The fact that inclusive schools without a religious character are mandated by law to force their children to worship is so obviously wrong that situation should be sorted out immediately.

Naomi Philips is the Chair of Labour Humanists

  • http://twitter.com/_DaveTalbot David Talbot

    I agree.

    To my mind, it is absolutely wrong for the state to facilitate in the promotion of any belief system or the ideological indoctrination of the young through the use of the academic process. Neither politics nor religion should have any place in the education of our children. 

    Furthermore the fact that the particular dogmatisms of various religions hinder the impartial teaching of historical or scientific fact, not to mention often provides a slanted interpretation of the arts. 

    It’s bad enough that self-segregation that characterise so many communities is becoming prevalent without governments seeking to promote faith schools which only compound this process. Rather than solidifying society on the basis of one value system, faith schools divide it by simultaneously promoting different systems and fostering divisions within society from a very young age.

    • rekrab

      However faith schools, especially RC schools tend to be the parents choice of all faiths and none because their ethos and management produce better results. Why is this so?

      • http://www.facebook.com/matt.goddin Matt Goddin

        Is it their ethos and management or is it the selective nature of their intake and additional funding?

        • rekrab

          On the contrary! the RC umbrella is a broad shelter for all students, irrespective of their background.(the shepherd doesn’t disregard some of his flock because their a bit smaller than the rest?) 

    • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

      While I broadly agree with the article, I wouldn’t scrap collective worship. It’s too absolutist. I also blogged some thoughts on this last year at Uncut:  
      http://labour-uncut.co.uk/2011/02/21/faith-schools-a-bad-idea-just-got-worse/

    • Brumanuensis

      Hear, hear.

  • aracataca

    Some points:

    1) Aren’t faith schools ‘popular’ with parents?
    2) I am not a believer myself but doesn’t persecuting religion usually end up badly (See The Soviet Union as an example here).
    3) Everyone has the right to believe whatever they want, including the right of course  to disbelieve. (IMHO)
    4) Believing in myths is part of what makes us human.Human beings have always believed in myths of one kind or another including perhaps the myth that faith schools are pernicious or destructive.

    • http://www.facebook.com/george.howes.1614 George Howes

      1) Even if faith schools are ‘popular’ (often as they’re high performing because of their selection policies as mentioned in the article) is it right to alienate and divide our society between not only those that have faith, and those that don’t, but also the richer parents who fight to get their kids into these schools, whilst other (generally poorer) parents are subsequently condemned to the inferior school.
      2) This isn’t persecuting religion, this is persecuting the right for religion to discriminate against others. Arguing based on history is flawed, I’d point out that the 5th-15th century forbidding certain scientific studies by the Catholic Church was infinitely more damaging to development.
      3) This proposal is precisely aimed at people having the right to disbelieve, and the right to attend the best school in their area without having a particular religion forced on them, if their parents want to bring them up as a particular faith then that’s fine, but why should the state pay for them to continue this?
      4) Human beings throughout the ages have on-the-whole believed that women are inferior and the property of men, homosexuals are immoral and sub-human and people should be killed if they don’t have the same faith as the state. Does this mean we should embrace these ‘lessons’ too? 

    • Brumanuensis

      1). Popularity isn’t the most important feature of education. Many things might be popular with parents, but detrimental to their children’s education.

      2). How is the state no longer paying money to schools run with a particular religious slant a form of persecution?

      3). I wouldn’t got that far, but regardless, the sort of tolerance you’re after is far more likely to be fostered in a secular environment than an overtly religious one.

      4). ?

      • Dave Postles

         4). ?   Its absence in the twentieth century was regretted by Georges Bataille, but he was, IMHO, mistaken, although I’ve never understood him, least of all The Absence of Myth.

      • Hugh

         1) Is there any evidence faith schools are detrimental to children’s education?
        2) It’s not; it’s just the state refusing to pay tax payers money in a way tax payers clearly want.
        3) Again, the evidence for that is what, exactly?

        • Brumanuensis

          As noted in the article, faith schools practice ‘cream skimming’, by favouring pupils from more advantaged families. There may be individual pupils and families that benefit, but the system as a whole suffers. There is also de-facto segregation practised in restricting access to pupils from backgrounds other than the religious affiliation held by the school. In fairness, this is part of a wider problem of segregation within the education system, particularly racial segregation in areas like Bolton and Bradford.

          The state isn’t under an obligation to pay money towards whatever the public wants. For the same reason that NICE exists with regards to the NHS, public resources cannot be spent on whatever whims the public might have, at the risk of sounding a bit Douglas Jay-like.

          I think it is fairly self-evident that an environment that expresses no preference or favour towards any one religious belief – which is different from excluding religion or being anti-religious – is more likely to favour harmony than an environment where one religious affiliation is accorded implicit superiority over others, such as in a CoE school or Muslim school.

  • Chilbaldi

    Yes and no.

    I do think that attendance at faith schools should be broadened. Of course many kids who are not of the school’s faith do attend these schools, but I feel uncomfortable with the current setup. After all, we all know that these schools are populated by children whose parents attended the church every weekend until their child’s place was secure. It is a good education for those whose parents have the time or inclination to attend church, which seems a bit odd to me.

    I disagree however with banning worship in schools. You’ll be wanting to ban churches next. This is where the humanist organisations tend to fall down – they are less secular, more Dawkinsite anti-religious.

  • Chilbaldi

    Yes and no.

    I do think that attendance at faith schools should be broadened. Of course many kids who are not of the school’s faith do attend these schools, but I feel uncomfortable with the current setup. After all, we all know that these schools are populated by children whose parents attended the church every weekend until their child’s place was secure. It is a good education for those whose parents have the time or inclination to attend church, which seems a bit odd to me.

    I disagree however with banning worship in schools. You’ll be wanting to ban churches next. This is where the humanist organisations tend to fall down – they are less secular, more Dawkinsite anti-religious.

  • Chilbaldi

    Yes and no.

    I do think that attendance at faith schools should be broadened. Of course many kids who are not of the school’s faith do attend these schools, but I feel uncomfortable with the current setup. After all, we all know that these schools are populated by children whose parents attended the church every weekend until their child’s place was secure. It is a good education for those whose parents have the time or inclination to attend church, which seems a bit odd to me.

    I disagree however with banning worship in schools. You’ll be wanting to ban churches next. This is where the humanist organisations tend to fall down – they are less secular, more Dawkinsite anti-religious.

  • Chilbaldi

    Yes and no.

    I do think that attendance at faith schools should be broadened. Of course many kids who are not of the school’s faith do attend these schools, but I feel uncomfortable with the current setup. After all, we all know that these schools are populated by children whose parents attended the church every weekend until their child’s place was secure. It is a good education for those whose parents have the time or inclination to attend church, which seems a bit odd to me.

    I disagree however with banning worship in schools. You’ll be wanting to ban churches next. This is where the humanist organisations tend to fall down – they are less secular, more Dawkinsite anti-religious.

  • Chilbaldi

    Yes and no.

    I do think that attendance at faith schools should be broadened. Of course many kids who are not of the school’s faith do attend these schools, but I feel uncomfortable with the current setup. After all, we all know that these schools are populated by children whose parents attended the church every weekend until their child’s place was secure. It is a good education for those whose parents have the time or inclination to attend church, which seems a bit odd to me.

    I disagree however with banning worship in schools. You’ll be wanting to ban churches next. This is where the humanist organisations tend to fall down – they are less secular, more Dawkinsite anti-religious.

  • Chilbaldi

    Yes and no.

    I do think that attendance at faith schools should be broadened. Of course many kids who are not of the school’s faith do attend these schools, but I feel uncomfortable with the current setup. After all, we all know that these schools are populated by children whose parents attended the church every weekend until their child’s place was secure. It is a good education for those whose parents have the time or inclination to attend church, which seems a bit odd to me.

    I disagree however with banning worship in schools. You’ll be wanting to ban churches next. This is where the humanist organisations tend to fall down – they are less secular, more Dawkinsite anti-religious.

  • Chilbaldi

    Yes and no.

    I do think that attendance at faith schools should be broadened. Of course many kids who are not of the school’s faith do attend these schools, but I feel uncomfortable with the current setup. After all, we all know that these schools are populated by children whose parents attended the church every weekend until their child’s place was secure. It is a good education for those whose parents have the time or inclination to attend church, which seems a bit odd to me.

    I disagree however with banning worship in schools. You’ll be wanting to ban churches next. This is where the humanist organisations tend to fall down – they are less secular, more Dawkinsite anti-religious.

  • Chilbaldi

    Yes and no.

    I do think that attendance at faith schools should be broadened. Of course many kids who are not of the school’s faith do attend these schools, but I feel uncomfortable with the current setup. After all, we all know that these schools are populated by children whose parents attended the church every weekend until their child’s place was secure. It is a good education for those whose parents have the time or inclination to attend church, which seems a bit odd to me.

    I disagree however with banning worship in schools. You’ll be wanting to ban churches next. This is where the humanist organisations tend to fall down – they are less secular, more Dawkinsite anti-religious.

    • aracataca

      I think you make a good point. The evidence may well suggest that religion is nothing more than baloney but sometimes Dawkinsite zealotry can in a sense iterate the very excesses it seeks to oppose.

    • Brumanuensis

      “I disagree however with banning worship in schools. You’ll be wanting to ban churches next”.

      One is a place of worship, defined by John Locke no less, as a congregation of freely assembled individuals united in religious belief. The other is a place of mandatory education, which has to cater for a very wide range of beliefs and none. Your statement is a non-sequiteur.

  • http://twitter.com/tyronen Tyrone Nicholas

    Both my children attend a local Catholic school. The school selects on the basis of religion and church attendance only, not academic standing. The education they are getting, both religious and non-religious, is vastly better than in the nearby community schools. The school’s Ofsted ratings are among the highest in the LEA. We would be staunchly opposed to the abolition of our children’s school.

  • PaulHalsall

    Do faith schools, taken apart from CoE schools,  really  tend to favour those from more affluent backgrounds over children from poorer backgrounds”?  That does not seem to me to be the case with Catholic or Muslim schools.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZPXYLRVP4XOIGGDJWAL6HUO7U4 David

    “the ever-expanding faith schools sector is self-evidently bad for society”
    When a debater appeals to self-evidence, it rarely strengthens their argument unless one agrees to begin with, and the concept of an “ever-expanding” (a.k.a. “increasingly popular”) thing being self-evidently bad appears to be a somewhat tendentious point of view.

    • nayintheoaks

      You should try not to take points out of context and then criticise the author for making a point she didn’t make. You only reference part of a sentence whereas taken as a whole the point is different: ‘dividing up more and more young people along religious and class lines through selection by the ever-expanding faith schools sector is self-evidently bad for society’ – the point is not that the expanding faith schools sector is self-evidently bad information society in itself but the division of young people along religious and class lines caused by the discriminatory admissions policies of many faith schools. Hope that’s clearer now.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    We should restore pride in being the Party that truly supports chances and access to a high quality state education for every child”

    Would it not be better to try to achieve this by improving the quality of education in the schools parents do not want their children to attend, rather than try to reduce quality (through banning selection) at schools that are already achieving it?

    Having a really good state non-faith school locally available is probably the easiest way to stop the over-demand for existing faith schools, which by itself allows them to be even more selective, and as a secondary effect probably contributes to the post code / catchment area increase in house prices, thus becoming another factor in broadening divisions in our society.

    • rekrab

      Jaime, how very true! house prices do rise where good state schools are, therefore the selectiveness comes from the catchment area of house pricing being to steep.

      Someone once made the argument on this site some years back, that if the quality of teaching was mandatory, you could run a very successful school in a scout hut. 

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        Yes.  At a simplistic level, it is supply and demand.  Demand for quality education will be both high and constant, but local supply of places in schools actually delivering high quality education will be limited.

        Improve the quality offered at low quality schools, and the supply / demand equation balances “up”.  If you artificially increase demand by limiting supply of quality education still further, well, what do people expect?

        So, fix the supply of quality education by increasing it, and that means sorting out the poor schools.

        Of course, this is not welcome for those who value equality of output over equality of input.  That is very much a diluting philosophy, with balancing “down” seen as acceptable. Some people do appear to think “everyone educated to a common poor standard, but at least it is equal” is a better result than “many people educated to a poor standard, but some educated to a much better standard, and this inequality is unacceptable”.

        • rekrab

          Eachy Peachy! there will always be some better than others?

          Sing along!!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BN3CrpAKakQ

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Derek,

            sometimes I cannot follow your logic with these music links we exchange, but I enjoy them nonetheless.  Normally, I would respond with some Johnny Cash, or this week maybe some Bobbie Gentry, or even Petula Clark, both of whom I have been listening to.

            But no, not this time.  One of my enjoyments is cycling as fast as I can (not so very fast, now I am 47, but I can cycle the 16 miles to work and back without killing myself).  Like many other men in my position, I have indulged in a fast road racing bicycle, which was sinfully expensive but, I tell my wife, not as expensive as a sports car, mistress, motorcycle or divorce, or other symptoms of male mid-life angst.  And as the bicycle is sinfully expensive, it is treated like a fine racing horse, polished and cleaned, etc.

            So, you will enjoy the thought of me “aghast” at the sheer abuse this very brave and talented young man puts his road bike to, and without breaking it.  I have to take my hat off to him.  And the music is not so bad either.

            (Actually, I am delighted with the last year of success that British Cycling has enjoyed, the Tour de France, and the Olympics.  As a defiantly working class pastime, low entry barrier sport and mode of transport, Labour should make more of bicycling – in my opinion.  I think our world champions – “Wiggo” and Mark Cavendish and Victoria Pendleton also have something of the everyday people about them, in a way that sailing or rowing may not)

            ((And I hope very much that Wiggo’s and Shane Sutton’s unfortunate accidents invigorate the safety debate, even though cycling is still statistically very safe, and I wish them speedy recoverys))

          • rekrab

            Wow! fantastic control through hours of learning, as a mean football player and an overly appetite to win, the coach would often ask me to try and play the ball rather than the man! LoL. Unconventional wisdom as opposed to basic logic? I dunno, maybe I’m suggesting one teacher 22 players and all have a worth.In the mean time a spirited tune can lift many hearts.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB_i2Mc5NQA&feature=related

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Derek, you always (well, mostly) offer me Scottish music, I always (well, mostly) offer you American music.  One day, we’ll have to realise that much of American “folk” music (fiddles, rhythm, the lyrics of poverty and injustice) come from Scottish and Irish 18th century settlers into places like Virginia and Carolina, and when you think of it, it makes sense.  They emigrated from their native countries, but did not leave their brains behind.  The “western” style of modern American “country” music is a much later thing, and Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette are not descended from this great tradition, but rather draw upon it.
            Alan probably will understand this, as he follows all of the streams of jazz tradition and sees the divergences and convergences.

            Get your boys to buy you a couple of CDs of Pete Seeger music for Christmas.  You will love it.

          • rekrab

            Darn, I have to go for the influence of the treaty of Arbroath now, which certainly has some roots in the American constitution.

            Yep! Jaime and Alan really do great links to some excellent music, I certainly think there is a tie or bond between Jazz, Folk, and country in the sense of peoples life experiences and countries histories. 

          • rekrab

            Darn, I have to go for the influence of the treaty of Arbroath now, which certainly has some roots in the American constitution.

            Yep! Jaime and Alan really do great links to some excellent music, I certainly think there is a tie or bond between Jazz, Folk, and country in the sense of peoples life experiences and countries histories. 

          • rekrab

            Darn, I have to go for the influence of the treaty of Arbroath now, which certainly has some roots in the American constitution.

            Yep! Jaime and Alan really do great links to some excellent music, I certainly think there is a tie or bond between Jazz, Folk, and country in the sense of peoples life experiences and countries histories. 

          • rekrab

            Darn, I have to go for the influence of the treaty of Arbroath now, which certainly has some roots in the American constitution.

            Yep! Jaime and Alan really do great links to some excellent music, I certainly think there is a tie or bond between Jazz, Folk, and country in the sense of peoples life experiences and countries histories. 

          • rekrab

            Darn, I have to go for the influence of the treaty of Arbroath now, which certainly has some roots in the American constitution.

            Yep! Jaime and Alan really do great links to some excellent music, I certainly think there is a tie or bond between Jazz, Folk, and country in the sense of peoples life experiences and countries histories. 

          • rekrab

            Darn, I have to go for the influence of the treaty of Arbroath now, which certainly has some roots in the American constitution.

            Yep! Jaime and Alan really do great links to some excellent music, I certainly think there is a tie or bond between Jazz, Folk, and country in the sense of peoples life experiences and countries histories. 

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Saw this little link in Bobbie Gentry’s video, and it reminded me of Jeannie C Riley – I have not listened to her for several years:  

            {EDIT: She’s still no patch on June Carter Cash, but the style is similar}

            (With the link, I am trying to get back to the central tension in the article – middle class hypocrisy being “solved” by left wingers consumed by jealousy, and both ignoring the impact on both our individual children and on the growth of our collective society)

          • rekrab

            There seems to be a steely sense of truth there.We’re all opposed to something rather than agreeing on one thing.We all recognise a certain national anthem, whether it’s the stars and stripes or a nation once again, music does flow through our souls.I listened to Gerry Springer on QT last week, Gerry seems to think that the future won’t be built around individual nations,I think he was saying that globalisation will mean a closer knitted world, where language, creed or race is no longer a barrier, quite a novel concept. 

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Here you go Derek, some easy Pete Seeger:

            And now some more challenging stuff, in a nice way.  Brings to me the link between older Scottish folk music and newer American folk revival:

            (and what is not good about Pete Seeger and Johnny Cash sharing a stage?)

            and if you really want to go deep, some Pete Seeger introducing Woody Guthrie:

          • rekrab

            Jaime, I’m well and truly moved by Pete Seeger, to my shame it’s my first introduction to Pete Seeger, wonderful lyrics and amazing Banjo playing, thanks for the intro Jaime don’t let that circle be un-broken under one blue sky we can all look down the rail track as far as it goes.

          • rekrab

            O’ another brilliant song! Here’s a great tune from one of the best. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiMl4yX1JiA

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Actually, I am not letting you get away without some Bobbie Gentry.  This one is beautiful

          • rekrab

            Applause!!! really enjoyed that, very thought provoking.I rather suspect the Mississippi bridge could burn once more after the recent election result there?

  • Brumanuensis

    I would have thought one of the strongest cases against faith schools, particularly Christian ones, is that they encourage the sin of hypocrisy, by giving parents an incentive to lie about their faith in order to gain admission. Thus, they are fostering un-Godly behaviour and contributing to the moral decay of their subscribers.

    Just saying…

  • JoeDM

    Ritual superstition should not be the basis of any form of education.

    • Brumanuensis

      Joe and I completely agree on something! I think this calls for a celebration of sorts :)

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    Derek (from well below)

    7 weeks to Christmas – more than enough time for your boys to order up a couple of Pete Seeger CDs. It would be unusual for there to be a “rush” and delay on those CDs.  You just need to drop a hint!

    As for “unbroken circles”, this is a favourite, although it is a bit “cheesy”.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGUP8oc9Bgs&feature=related

    What is not so well known is that at the time of this recording, Johnny was 2 weeks out of hospital from one of the first of his overdoses (recorded as Emphysema – unlikely and not even with vaguely similar symptoms, but the press kept quiet), June had a fractured cheek from a minor car crash, and June’s lime green dress was actually Helen’s, but there had been some mix up with colours, so June wore it as she was the soloist.

    (Actually, I am really embarrassed to know such trivia)

    • rekrab

      I’ll drop the hint!

      A truly uplifting song! your knowledge is only to be applauded!!!!!!

      Here’s one with Roy and Johnny, Johnny is in sheer admiration of Roy, great touch.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

    I agree with this

    I don’t think that partisan religion should be part of state education, nor that we should be enabling selection by the back door

  • Serbitar

    The “faith schools” thing is another one of Tony Blair’s legacies supposed to create “diversity” in the British educational system and succeeded in the sense that some schools supplanted science based subjects with  indoctrination into creationism, intelligent design and other bizarre scripture slanted mythologies.  Come on folks! We are not all descended from Adam and Eve, Noah didn’t build an ark,  the world is more than six thousand years old and wasn’t made in six days with a one day holiday for God to put his/her/its feet up on Sunday. The fact that nonsense like this was seriously mooted by teachers in positions of trust as a plausible alternative model to the theory of evolution in one or more British schools is a shameful disgrace.

    Religion should be stripped from our educational system entirely.

    Good people do good things sans religious dogma while bad people often become more malevolent and malign when inspired by religious beliefs not rooted in fact, which they consider unimpeachable, and in which they have no doubt.

  • Serbitar

    The “faith schools” thing is another one of Tony Blair’s legacies supposed to create “diversity” in the British educational system and succeeded in the sense that some schools supplanted science based subjects with  indoctrination into creationism, intelligent design and other bizarre scripture slanted mythologies.  Come on folks! We are not all descended from Adam and Eve, Noah didn’t build an ark,  the world is more than six thousand years old and wasn’t made in six days with a one day holiday for God to put his/her/its feet up on Sunday. The fact that nonsense like this was seriously mooted by teachers in positions of trust as a plausible alternative model to the theory of evolution in one or more British schools is a shameful disgrace.

    Religion should be stripped from our educational system entirely.

    Good people do good things sans religious dogma while bad people often become more malevolent and malign when inspired by religious beliefs not rooted in fact, which they consider unimpeachable, and in which they have no doubt.

  • Serbitar

    The “faith schools” thing is another one of Tony Blair’s legacies supposed to create “diversity” in the British educational system and succeeded in the sense that some schools supplanted science based subjects with  indoctrination into creationism, intelligent design and other bizarre scripture slanted mythologies.  Come on folks! We are not all descended from Adam and Eve, Noah didn’t build an ark,  the world isn’t six thousand years old, wasn’t made in six days with a one day holiday at the weekend. Human beings never shared the world with dinosaurs! The fact that nonsense like this was seriously mooted as a plausible alternative model to the theory of evolution in at least one British school is a shameful disgrace.

    Religion should be stripped from our educational system entirely.

    Good people remain good sans religious dogma while bad people are often much more malevolent and malign when inspired by beliefs not rooted in fact, which they consider unimpeachable, and in which they have no doubt.

  • Serbitar

    The “faith schools” thing is another one of Tony Blair’s legacies supposed to create “diversity” in the British educational system and succeeded in the sense that some schools supplanted science based subjects with  indoctrination into creationism, intelligent design and other bizarre scripture slanted mythologies.  Come on folks! We are not all descended from Adam and Eve, Noah didn’t build an ark,  the world isn’t six thousand years old, wasn’t made in six days with a one day holiday at the weekend. Human beings never shared the world with dinosaurs! The fact that nonsense like this was seriously mooted as a plausible alternative model to the theory of evolution in at least one British school is a shameful disgrace.

    Religion should be stripped from our educational system entirely.

    Good people remain good sans religious dogma while bad people are often much more malevolent and malign when inspired by beliefs not rooted in fact, which they consider unimpeachable, and in which they have no doubt.

  • brian morris

    This is a classic example of Humanist bigotry.Faith schools are chosen by parents because their results are better than those of simlar state schools and because parents want their children brought up in their own religion.This  is a basic right recognised by the UN C onvention on Human Rights and the European Courts.Attempts to destroy will  a)be struck down by European law and b)encourage such parents to found schools outside the state sector.thus damaging the very sector Labour Humanists seek to support!

  • Serbitar

    As an interim measure I’d go for (b) myself.

    State funding of faith schools is not as far as I am aware a human right. As a first step towards the abolition of faith schools I would cut financial support to all such educational institutions from the State and insist that all future funding be secured wholly and personally from the various religious minorities which demand such schools. As a non-religious taxpayer I strongly object to any money that I have paid as taxes being used to indoctrinate children into hoary fantastical nonsense which I consider could be, potentially, very damaging.

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      Cut state funding to all faith schools, sit back, and watch them wither on the vine

      As over one third of all state schools in England are faith schools, that is not very practical, is it?  Nor is your interim measure of privatising them, which would result in great turbulence for the children being educated there as they are taken out of the newly privatised school and placed elsewhere.  And as faith schools appear to be achieving better results than the average of all state schools, your suggestions would also lower the overall level of education results in the remaining state funded sector.  

      You appear to have allowed your dislike for religion to have over-ridden your common sense.

      • Serbitar

        Not really.

        Very few faith schools would actually close in practice if denied State funding. Under the circumstances discussed most faith schools would simply be forced to shirk their religious ethos and become conventional, secular educational establishments with a small number ending up as private few paying schools or supported by funds donated from other sources and individuals, e.g., Churches or wealthy Sultans etc.

        As far as the academic success of pupils at Faith Schools goes I doubt very much religion has anything to do with it, especially when you consider the multiplicity of faiths involved and very different dogmas they have in respect to the deity or deities in the case of polytheistic Hindu schools. I would hazard that taking God out of the educational system won’t take the clever out of the children but might give them a better, more honest, much more human and far more humane perspective of the world and its inhabitants.

        In fact I do not dislike religion per se.

        But I do draw the line at government sponsored lying to children.

  • Brumanuensis

    Which part of the UNCHR or ECHR applies here?

    • Alexwilliamz

      Is it the part about straight bananas?

      • Monkey_Bach

        Straight bananas? What’s wrong with gay bananas? Eeek.

    • Alexwilliamz

      Is it the part about straight bananas?

  • Alexwilliamz

    So is it the selectivity of faith schools that is the issue. If a church school exercised no selection (which tbh is the case with most c of e primaries) would that remove the main critique being employed here? That for me is the only issue I could take with a faith school provided it delivered the national curriculum and I would have not truck with the science creation vs evolution stuff either. The collective act of worship could continue as far as I am concerned as it gives young people an opportunity to reflect, sing and of course be indoctrinated (does anyone think the latter will happen as a consequence?) I support faith schools in the sense that I recognise that the provision of education was and remains a cornerstone of the social expression of many religions as does the view that it forms a weapon against inequality and other barriers, which I think is a good thing. In this day and age of academies I’d say denying faith schools is a form of discrimination provided the caveats I have provided are agreed upon.
    Or have I got something wrong, is the atheist position that an organised religion must not be allowed any control over a school because they are a religion? And then one presumes this position is really because they fundamentally disagree with them over say the existence of God. Hmm I wonder what would happen if we applied that to the rest of life in the context of those we fundamentally disagree with and the receipt of public money?

    I know the tories should be banned from public office because I fundamentally disagree with the political standpoint and believe they are going to do things which will damage the country.

  • Alexwilliamz

    So is it the selectivity of faith schools that is the issue. If a church school exercised no selection (which tbh is the case with most c of e primaries) would that remove the main critique being employed here? That for me is the only issue I could take with a faith school provided it delivered the national curriculum and I would have not truck with the science creation vs evolution stuff either. The collective act of worship could continue as far as I am concerned as it gives young people an opportunity to reflect, sing and of course be indoctrinated (does anyone think the latter will happen as a consequence?) I support faith schools in the sense that I recognise that the provision of education was and remains a cornerstone of the social expression of many religions as does the view that it forms a weapon against inequality and other barriers, which I think is a good thing. In this day and age of academies I’d say denying faith schools is a form of discrimination provided the caveats I have provided are agreed upon.
    Or have I got something wrong, is the atheist position that an organised religion must not be allowed any control over a school because they are a religion? And then one presumes this position is really because they fundamentally disagree with them over say the existence of God. Hmm I wonder what would happen if we applied that to the rest of life in the context of those we fundamentally disagree with and the receipt of public money?

    I know the tories should be banned from public office because I fundamentally disagree with the political standpoint and believe they are going to do things which will damage the country.

  • Alexwilliamz

    So is it the selectivity of faith schools that is the issue. If a church school exercised no selection (which tbh is the case with most c of e primaries) would that remove the main critique being employed here? That for me is the only issue I could take with a faith school provided it delivered the national curriculum and I would have not truck with the science creation vs evolution stuff either. The collective act of worship could continue as far as I am concerned as it gives young people an opportunity to reflect, sing and of course be indoctrinated (does anyone think the latter will happen as a consequence?) I support faith schools in the sense that I recognise that the provision of education was and remains a cornerstone of the social expression of many religions as does the view that it forms a weapon against inequality and other barriers, which I think is a good thing. In this day and age of academies I’d say denying faith schools is a form of discrimination provided the caveats I have provided are agreed upon.
    Or have I got something wrong, is the atheist position that an organised religion must not be allowed any control over a school because they are a religion? And then one presumes this position is really because they fundamentally disagree with them over say the existence of God. Hmm I wonder what would happen if we applied that to the rest of life in the context of those we fundamentally disagree with and the receipt of public money?

    I know the tories should be banned from public office because I fundamentally disagree with the political standpoint and believe they are going to do things which will damage the country.

  • Alexwilliamz

    So is it the selectivity of faith schools that is the issue. If a church school exercised no selection (which tbh is the case with most c of e primaries) would that remove the main critique being employed here? That for me is the only issue I could take with a faith school provided it delivered the national curriculum and I would have not truck with the science creation vs evolution stuff either. The collective act of worship could continue as far as I am concerned as it gives young people an opportunity to reflect, sing and of course be indoctrinated (does anyone think the latter will happen as a consequence?) I support faith schools in the sense that I recognise that the provision of education was and remains a cornerstone of the social expression of many religions as does the view that it forms a weapon against inequality and other barriers, which I think is a good thing. In this day and age of academies I’d say denying faith schools is a form of discrimination provided the caveats I have provided are agreed upon.
    Or have I got something wrong, is the atheist position that an organised religion must not be allowed any control over a school because they are a religion? And then one presumes this position is really because they fundamentally disagree with them over say the existence of God. Hmm I wonder what would happen if we applied that to the rest of life in the context of those we fundamentally disagree with and the receipt of public money?

    I know the tories should be banned from public office because I fundamentally disagree with the political standpoint and believe they are going to do things which will damage the country.

  • Alexwilliamz

    So is it the selectivity of faith schools that is the issue. If a church school exercised no selection (which tbh is the case with most c of e primaries) would that remove the main critique being employed here? That for me is the only issue I could take with a faith school provided it delivered the national curriculum and I would have not truck with the science creation vs evolution stuff either. The collective act of worship could continue as far as I am concerned as it gives young people an opportunity to reflect, sing and of course be indoctrinated (does anyone think the latter will happen as a consequence?) I support faith schools in the sense that I recognise that the provision of education was and remains a cornerstone of the social expression of many religions as does the view that it forms a weapon against inequality and other barriers, which I think is a good thing. In this day and age of academies I’d say denying faith schools is a form of discrimination provided the caveats I have provided are agreed upon.
    Or have I got something wrong, is the atheist position that an organised religion must not be allowed any control over a school because they are a religion? And then one presumes this position is really because they fundamentally disagree with them over say the existence of God. Hmm I wonder what would happen if we applied that to the rest of life in the context of those we fundamentally disagree with and the receipt of public money?

    I know the tories should be banned from public office because I fundamentally disagree with the political standpoint and believe they are going to do things which will damage the country.

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