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27 November 2014
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    Faith


    Multi Racial School
    Multi Racial School

    Faith Schools

    Jo Coleman
    Until Labour was elected in 1997, all state faith schools were Christian or Jewish. By 2001, there were four Muslim, two Sikh, one Greek Orthodox and one Seventh Day Adventist. Now in 2004, the 'buzzword' is choice...


    Until Labour was elected in 1997, all state faith schools were Christian or Jewish.
    By 2001, there were four Muslim, two Sikh, one Greek Orthodox and one Seventh Day Adventist.  The Education Secretary, at the time, David Blunkett said he wanted to "bottle" the ethos of faith schools, and in a white paper declared: " We wish to welcome faith schools, with their distinctive ethos and character, into the maintained (state) sector, where there is clear local agreement."

    Now in 2004, the “buzz word” is CHOICE.    Jo Coleman has been investigating whether more choice should necessarily include the Faith School option.  If parents had the choice would they prefer a single-faith education?

    Jo began by asking some local mothers if faith is a priority for them in their children’s education?

    Chetna Shah: 
    “I’m not into Hindu as a strict faith.  If I was… I’d go out of my way … we’re in a multi-cultural [society], you’ve got to know all the others as well, not just your own specific one.  I believe they’ve got to be confident … and cope when they come out of the education system and they can get a good job with what they’ve learnt….”

    Jackie Dodds:
    “We chose the faith school but understand that religion is covered in all schools and [if we hadn’t got in, we] would have continued to go to church on a weekly basis and ensure that they understood the Christian side of things from our home.”

    Sylvia Schloss:
    “I do believe it’s important and they go every Sunday morning to Hebrew… classes, I actually teach there.  But I also think it’s important that they have a wide view on life and learn about other cultures… I’ve been in to talk to the children about Hanukkah and other festivals.  I strongly believe that children should mix with other cultures and religions and beliefs and learn about others and in return others should learn about theirs.

    Jo then sought the opinion of Terry Sanderson, Vice President of the National Secular Society.  He has grave concerns about children being sent to single faith schools.

    School children.

    Terry Sanderson:
    “Naturally, kids ought be exposed to religion because it’s a part of life and a choice they can make.  But in faith schools it’s not a choice they can make…religion permeates the establishment – [it] sounds like indoctrination to me… Faith schools, by their very nature [are] actually saying their own beliefs are superior… schools should be for learning not springboards for preaching.

    To get a balanced argument in favour of faith schools, Jo spoke to Norman Hoare OBE, Headmaster of the non-denominational but Christian, St George’s Voluntary Aided School in Harpenden.   Is this indoctrination?

    Norman Hoare:
      “We don’t preach Christianity, we introduce children further to …. the nature of our religion, the study of our faith that they have begun in their families.  We look at it from an academic point of view as well as a practical point of view.  It’s the way that the Gospel is lived out in the community that’s important….you can’t make children become Christians … if you try to force children to become anything you have the most enormous difficulty… Faith schools are not about indoctrination.

    The subject then came up regarding state funding.

    Norman: 
    “We receive the majority of our funding from the government but the governors and trustees have to find a small but significant proportion of the costs to run buildings.”

    Terry:
      “If people want …. to have their children educated in a religious establishment they should pay for it….these schools have strict entry requirements that give privilege to children of religious backgounds… which is discriminatory….I don’t think it’s right that we should all pay for these schools when only the select few have access to them.   School is the very best time to make friendships with people from other cultures – if we have a sudden a burst of minority faith schools….separating them from their peers in the majority culture how on earth are they ever going to be integrated and get to know what the majority is like…if they live in ghettos and go to school in ghettos…. how is society going to cohere?

    Does this system of separating children according to their families’ faith lead to division within society?  Norman Hoare has a positive outlook.

    Norman:
      “I have a significant number of non-Christian families who… are very pleased that their children are in a faith school where there are values.  And toleration and understanding of different people’s attitudes and faith systems is actually encouraged, more so than in a non-faith set-up.  In any faith school, I would like to see that the syllabus for religious education and nature of the community life and values is not segregationist.  I would want to see it along a pluralist line, while the tenets of that particular faith are taught and encouraged amongst the parents and student population".

    Terry: 
    "These schools are …. always at the top of the league tables…because they have these selection criteria to ensure problem kids never get in….parents know this…[and those with the] determination to get the best for their children will go to extremes to get their kids into these schools".

    Norman: 
    "Pre-selection is not a word I would use – any parent can state a preference… in allocating places our criteria include active members of a Christian church.  Therefore, if you have parents behind you… you are going to succeed.  I understand all parents want to have good education and that’s one of virtues of the English Secondary Education system - there should be variety and there should be choice".


    last updated: 15/10/04
    Have Your Say
    Will attending single faith schools lead to segregation from other communities and religions and should they be funded by the state?
    Your name: 
    Your comment: 
     
    The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

    Maryam Siddique
    Faith schools wont lead to segregation but teach children to respect other religions. Being a Pakistani Muslim, I know that due to the British Raj, unfortunately our older generation did not have as good religious education as we do and therefore can teach their children values which are cultural rather than religious. By learning true Islam you will get less racist children and better citizens. If however the govt. finds it difficult to fund Muslim faith schools, then maybe they should persuade America and themselves to stick their nose out of Muslim countries' business, and let them get on with developing themselves, so we may all go back one day and live in peace, rather than listen to cruel and insensitive remarks from British Atheists. Many thanks.

    joanna
    I feel that non donominational schools are the way to go. they allow individuality of solitary beings.

    Lisa
    I do not agree with denominational schools everyone should have the right to be educated together. Single faith schools can lead to racism and discrimination.

    Catherine Taylor
    We cannot equate Western values with Christian values. To do this would be to deny change and evolution in society. Britain was not always predominantly Christian, nor will it always necessarily be. This is a discussion about faith schools, not immigrants and cultural erosion. I am British. My father and mother are British, as were their parents. I am a devout atheist. In my humble opinion, the Bible and the Christian tradition this country is apparently based on, is untrue. This has nothing to do with my ethnicity or cultural background. It is a choice I have made. Religion is a choice, and should be promoted as such. I feel that faith schools have harmful effects on a child's education. It is wrong to say that a child of Christian or Muslim parents is a 'Christian child' or a 'Muslim child'. They should be allowed to come to their own conclusions about religion when they are old enough to make a clear, rational, informed decision. If they decide to be Christian or Sikh or Pagan, then fine. It's their choice. But if we allow schools to teach children that one faith is right, then we necessarily heavily influence their beliefs. Admittedly, children may turn against their upbringing: I, for example, attended a Church of England primary school. However, we must protect our children against any form of bias in education. School is about learning facts and about introducing the idea of beliefs (not the rightness or wrongness of beliefs). That many people are Christians, Muslims, etc., and that these are fair and viable options, is a fact. That God exists and he came to earth as Jesus Christ is not a fact. Faith schools can do as much as they like to teach children about other religious perspectives, but they still teach that one religion is right, and the others are all 'what other people think'. They stand fundamentally against the principle of fair and impartial education. Schools are a place where integration can be promoted. This is not the same thing as assimilation. It is a celebration of different points of view, all held to be of equal worth. If faith schools are allowed to flourish they will lead to segregation and misunderstanding, perhaps (though not necessarily) even to intolerance.

    GREAT BRITAIN
    I AM NOT RELIGIOUS BUT I AGREE WITH RAY, DESPITE WHAT PEOPLE (THE PC BRIGADE) TRY TO CLAIM ABOUT THIS BEING A MULTI FAITHED ISLAND, IT IS WHOLLY CHRSITIAN AND BASED ON CHRISTIAN ETHICS AND I FOR ONE AM SICK OF THESE IMMIGRANTS TRYING TO IMPORT THEIR OWN OUTDATED VALUES AND HABITS AND DEMANDING THINGS BE CHANGED TO SUIT THEIR THIRD WORLD SENSITIVITIES. IVE NEVER HAD NATIONALIST TENDANCIES BEFORE BUT THIS GOVERNMENT HAS MADE ME WANT TO VOTE FOR ANYONE WHO WILL PUT A STOP TO PEOPLE WITHOUT WESTERN VALUES ENTERING THIS COUNTRY.

    K Dudakia
    The more important question might be, 'have catholic and protestant faith schools created segregation?'. If not, then what is it about other faiths that people fear? Is it a question of, the majority faiths can do no wrong, but that the minority faiths in the UK might be a threat? It is important to dispel ignorance with facts - that way, we will assist the formation of a more cohesive society.

    ray
    why come knowing that this is a fundementally a christian country with western ways? Why dress differently and make no attempt to fit in?Then upon arrival insist we accomadate your ways? If i want to live in france i'd live as a frenchman and speak french!

    Daniel Loy
    I am sad to read this article. Great Britain once use to colonise countries and share gospel to the people had scrumble to import other faiths into its shore. It is very sad not knowing what their great grand parents has works so hard to spread the Gospel (even to the point of beheaded). By the way I am not a British. I happen to be one of those who benefits from British colonise the Grace of God.

    videx's
    When you look in to it carefully that is when you will see the advantages and disadvantages I think children should mix up and this is the only way

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