The recent report from the Runneymede Trust, "Right to Divide" (available at: www.runnymedetrust.org) is this:“Faith schools should be for the benefit of all in society rather than just some. If faith schools are convinced of their relevance for society, then that should apply equally for all children. With state funding comes an obligation to be relevant and open to all citizens.”
Some faith schools are very good, inclusive institutions which play an important part in promoting community cohesion. In Oldham, there is a church of england primary school which is 99% Muslim. In Norfolk, there are church schools which are far more welcoming of children from traveller or migrant worker fmilies than other schools. There are other faith schools who do have admission policies that are dubious. Not every Faith School is the same-some are progressive others less so.
For me, an important question emerges- If all faith schools are proved to be fully inclusive and follow the principles behind the Accord coalition (www.accordcoalition.org.uk) which include:
- Operating admissions policies that take no account of pupils’ – or their parents’ – religion or beliefs.
- Operating recruitment and employment policies that do not discriminate on the grounds of religion or belief.
- Following an objective, fair and balanced syllabus for education about religious and non-religious beliefs – whether determined by their local authority or by any future national syllabus or curriculum for RE.
- Being made accountable under a single inspection regime for RE, Personal, Social & Health Education (PSHE) and Citizenship.
- Providing their pupils with inclusive, inspiring and stimulating assemblies in place of compulsory acts of worship.
If these principles were put in place, would opponents of faith schools still want them closed down?