LabourList readers say withdraw funding from faith schools – and don’t want to see BME shortlists either

20th June, 2014 5:55 pm

Last week Sadiq Khan said he could consider backing all-minority ethnic shortlists, in order to increase the numbers of minority ethnic people in Parliament. We put it to LabourList readers whether they would support the idea.  The majority (68%) thought that it wouldn’t be a good idea, whereas 32£% supported the proposal.

While many may not be in favour of all-minority ethnic shortlists, as Khan explained last week, it is worth exploring how we get more minority ethnic people in politics.

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Following the so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal that’s unfolded over the past couple of weeks, debates have emerged about whether the state should, with religious organisations, continue to fund faith schools. In light of this, we asked you what you thought – 72% of LabourList readers said that the state should stop giving any money to faith schools, whereas 28% support the ongoing funding.

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We also wanted to know who you are – and unsurprisingly, the vast majority (73%) of LabourList readers are party members, and an additional 19% of you support Labour but aren’t members. 10% of those who took part in our survey are councillors or other elected representatives of the party. Labour MPs are a little shy though – whilst 0.5% of those who completed the survey were MPs, we know that 75% of Labour MPs regularly read LabourList. Lots of the PLP hiding their lights under a bushel…

Meanwhile 28% of you are CLP officers and activists (the lifeblood of the party), and 1% of you are Labour Party staff. Only 3% of those who completed our survey

891 LabourList readers took part in this week’s survey – thanks to everyone who took part.

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  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    How expensive is it going to be to replace faith schools with non-faith schools? It is a reasonable question, as it is unlikely they would continue to operate without state funding.

    Faith schools own their property, and often contribute financially above their income per pupil from Government. Even if the property was nationalised, which might cost billions, there is still either top ups that would need to be replaced, or an acceptance that less resources per pupil would be available.

    • EricBC

      It will never happen. There are too many supporters throughout the country.

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        I am sure that you are correct, and indeed hope that you are. But this is a small example of a principle being supported, but yet no facts being considered in forming the question.

        I suspect that the result of the poll would be different if the question was “Would you support nationalising faith schools at a cost of £20 billion, and keeping them open without the faith element?”

      • gunnerbear

        And of course the teaching establishment hate the good faith schools….because they are always doing quite well (mind you in all fairness, they are quite good at getting the best feedstock…)

    • JoeDM

      Simply stop funding them !!!!

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        And then they will close.

        What do you propose to do with the many tens of thousands of children whose school has closed?

      • Tokyo Nambu

        That’s fine. So now you’ve got around a million children you need to educate, no schools to educate them in (because the land and buildings, in the majority of cases, belong to the diocese or equivalent) and not a penny extra of revenue. Your move.

        It’s like the endless “we should close private schools” nonsense. All that doing that does is create an immediate need to provide school places for around 12% more children, without a penny extra to do it with.

        • RegisteredHere

          That’s true, but why not just remove the religious component of the curriculum in state schools for children under 9 or 10 years old, and leave the schools as they are?

          I don’t think the CofE owning the land and having its name on the board outside the school is really a problem.

          • Tokyo Nambu

            “That’s true, but why not just remove the religious component of the curriculum in state schools for children under 9 or 10 years old, and leave the schools as they are?”

            Why would the CofE agree to that and not close the schools and sell the land anyway?

          • RegisteredHere

            I think the CofE could well accept the change as a reasonable compromise. Teaching Christianity to four- and five-year olds is difficult for the Church to justify anyway, and they’d still get to preach to the older children before they move on to secondary schools.

            More importantly, the CofE recognises that the country is now predominantly culturally-Christian, and such a move would go some way to reconcile itself to the many parents who are basically sympathetic to the CofE, but aren’t practising Christians and don’t want their children indoctrinated at a very young and impressionable age.

          • LeeMatthews

            “Christians and don’t want their children indoctrinated at a very young and impressionable age.”

            That’s why most are Christened before they have a choice!

          • RegisteredHere

            Well, yes; I likewise have no issue with my children being Christians, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to have Christianity introduced before they reach an age where they can understand it.

            However, I also don’t think that the CofE (cf. some of the more conservative member of the congregation) would be unsympathetic to removing religion from early years education.

          • Tokyo Nambu

            “such a move would go some way to reconcile itself to the many parents who are basically sympathetic to the CofE, but aren’t practising Christians”

            Why would they need to do that, given that the CofE schools are massively oversubscribed? Who is seeking this “reconciliation”?

            Set up two schools next to each other, one CofE, one not. Which is the one with the over-subscription problem?

          • RegisteredHere

            I guess it depends on what you think is the real problem. Personally I don’t have any problem with state schools being placed on CofE ground and called “CofE” because that’s just part of our history, but I object strongly to children being indoctrinated at an early age.

            I also think that the CofE generally recognises that this is now a “post-Christian” society, and early years religious education is clearly at odds with that. Reconciliation would come from the CofE, if it accepts that old style congregations made up of “believing” Christians are a thing of the past.

            (Just noticed that this was still ‘pending’, so reposted without markup).

        • i_bid

          The idea that no more money could be obtained is pretty laughable. We’ve lost billions just from the slashing of the corporation tax/50% year-on-year. Get those raised back to their former levels and plow the extra billions in solving our dog’s breakfast of an education system once and for all.

      • Dave Roberts

        Joe, what does the DM stand for? Doc Martins? You are proposing to close down more or less the entire education system of the country.

        The problem isn’t faith schools per se, it’s schools that promote exclusiveness and extremism. Catholic schools aren’t calling for the restoration of the Stuarts and the Inquisition, even if anyone expected the last. As far as I know CoE school govenors aren’t asking for the dissolution of Catholic schools and their property transferred to themselves.

        We do have a problem with some Muslim schools that promote separatism and extremism.

        • i_bid

          Most of us aren’t coming at this from the post-Birmingham fiasco, but instinctively opposed to the segregation these schools engender, and the sort of freedom they get away with which allowed the Bimingham events to happen – and no, the problems can’t just be conveniently distilled down to ‘it’s only those muslims abusing it’.

    • MonkeyBot5000

      In his article on faith schools Tom Copley linked this pdf showing how different faith and non-faith schools are funded.

      Voluntary Aided faith schools get 90% of their funding from local authorities whereas with Faith Academies and Free Schools, the sponsor isn’t required to contribute any funding.

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        MonkeyBot, thank you. But is not a big part the ownership of buildings? Not just the operating expenses, but the cost to buy them out.

        • i_bid

          If the owner of the bankrupt faith schools (after the state stopped paying for them) decided to keep their buildings, new buildings could be built – given it’s a one-off cost.

          At a time when the DoE is allowing any-one to build new schools (Free Schools) at the cost of the taxpayer, even when there’s existing schools, I don’t think the idea that this worthwhile ambition to stop allowing religious institutions a) state-sponsored segregation b) and having us pay for the privilege would be defeated by the cost is credible.

  • Phil Wilson

    Taking on faith schools just before the election would be a massive mistake but we need to be saying more on education. We’ve just lost two members who are teachers – I don’t usually say this but I think we need to be more supportive of teachers not copy Gove.
    Just now · Like

  • Dave Roberts

    So common sense, and a desire to get Labour elected, has prevailed over all ethnic shortlists. I was surprised at the majority against, and this from hardcore Labour supporters.The actual electorate will be much more so. If Khan doesn’t drop this now he as to go, no ifs or buts.

  • Ashurstman

    The argument about faith schools is an old one. But the cases for them put forward here are flawed. Rarely does the diocese own 100% of the school and its buildings – many of which have been funded not by the religion in question but by the state. However, as a long-time critic of religious schools possibly partly as a “victim” of a religious education I am delighted by this vote.
    And as a policy it needs a lot more work to deal with all the issues that would need addressing but if it’s good enough for france for example why isn’t it good enough for us!

  • Jack

    There are so many red herrings deliberately brought into this debate to obscure and complicate the issue but at its core there is a fundamental truth; in a society that has to interact and live in harmony, separating and segregating children at a time when they should be together and learning from each other is wrong.

    If we all lived in little enclaves hundreds of miles apart, with little interaction, then parents could do exactly as they wished and educate their children in whatever religious belief they chose. However, this is not the case, we all live together and for the sake of the community as a whole we must all get on with each other and not factionalise. It is therefore the State’s responsibility to recognise this and despite the wishes of some parents, for the greater good of society they must be told that children’s education must be done in a non-divisive manner.

    There are many powerful vested interests, especially in the various forms of the Christian religion that will fiercely object to having their power and influence diminished, but over time all schools should be made non-denominational.

    Similarly, all-ethnic shortlists are a retrograde step.

  • Dave Roberts

    Always a good discussion here, unlike Left Futures where there is censorship on the subject of immigration.

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