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Faith in faith schools

  • Newsnight
  • 24 Aug 06, 04:39 PM

What this country needs most is a new initiative. Ok, no one has quite said that. But once again this government's wracking its brain to figure out what to do to bring communities together to wipe out extremism.

That will not include examining whether faith schools are a good thing or not. Indeed more are planned by the government. Church of England Schools are the most diverse in the country, according to Education Secretary Ruth Kelly. And as it’s all about giving parents choice, Muslim parents should have the same opportunities offered to Christian and Jewish parents, she says.

Critics claim faith schools increase segregation on religious grounds and opening more at a time when religious understanding and tolerance are particularly fragile is a mistake. Ms Kelly’s answer is for faith schools to play each other at football, cricket and the like.

So can faith schools have a part to play in this debate, given that none of the suicide bombers we know of even attended one? Is the blame too often laid unfairly at their door? Or should we be looking to end segregation right where it begins, in the infant school playground?

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