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NAVIGATION
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Quick background
Reasons for Opposing Faith-based Schools
Answers to arguments for faith-based schools
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Quotations from experts and interested parties
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Extracts from the Church of England's recent report
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 Quick background
 

State schools in England have since the beginning of compulsory education included a minority of schools owned and run by the Church of England, Roman Catholic church and some other religious bodies - see more. Their costs are now almost entirely met from public funds.

The Church of England in 2000 set up an enquiry to look at the future of their schools. It reported in 2001 recommending substantial expansion, especially in the secondary sector. Most of these "new" C of E schools would not be new at all: they would be taken over (without payment) from the "state" sector - see more.

In an overlapping and probably coordinated process, the Department for Education produced a Green Paper on schools that warmly welcomed the idea of an expansion of "faith-based" schools - see more.

After the riots in Bradford, Oldham and elsewhere in the early summer of 2001, deep worries were expressed by many people concerned in education, religion and race relations about the wisdom of segregating schoolchildren by religion. These doubts were strongly reinforced after the terrorist outrages on 11 September 2001.

Others renewed their objections in principle to public funds being used to promote religion, arguing that this was a role for the churches and mosques and that it went beyond the proper realm of education and of the state in an open society.

When the Government produced their White Paper on schools (September 2001), they were distinctly less enthusiastic about faith-based schools, and the Church of England started talking about "inclusiveness" (their schools have always been less exclusive than others, but this was a marked change from the trend in their report). Nevertheless, in Parliament over 80 MPs voted (February 2002) for an amendment to the Education Bill that would have required all faith-based schools to give about a quarter of their places to children from outside the faith group. A report in the TES said that the Prime Minister was forcing the policy through despite misgivings in the education department.

Since then dozens of new religious schools have opened across the country. Decisions on new schools (and handing over community schools to religions) are handled locally, by School Organisation Committees where the churches have two out of five votes - see more.  Proposals are rarely publicised and the time available for consultation has recently been shortened.

Moreover, the Government announced in teh summer of 2005 that the churches would not in future need to contribute even the 10% of building costs when their secondary schools were re-built. Thus the 50% contribution of 1944, reduced to 25% in 1959, to 20% in 1967, to 15% in 1974 and to 10% in 2001, is on the brink of being eliminated entirely. The time has come to ask, if the taxpayer is paying the piper, why are the churches calling the tune?

The Government's reaction to the attacks by Islamist terrorists on London in July 2005 has been to propose to increase hugely the number of Muslim religious schools, mainly by lowering the standards required for private schools to gain admission to the public system. They are apparently oblivious to the fact that some Muslim schools differ hugely from the cosy C of E image they seem to cherish - see for example what one Muslim head of an aided primary school has to say.

Alongside the expansion of religious 'maintained' schools the Government has pursued its policy of financing 90% of the cost of building and 100% of the cost or f running about 200 'academies' across the country. The odd 10% of the building cost was meant to come from business sponsors, but they have been slower to emerge than expected and the gap has been filled by religious organisations - the United Learning Trust (an Anglican charity) and (more alarmingly) extreme evangelicals. The Emmanuel Schools Foundation funded by car dealership millionaire Sir Peter Vardy came first; with academies open in Gateshead and Middlesbrough, a third opening in Doncaster this year, and others under way. Now Bob Edmiston's Christian Vision, fresh from starting a string of evangelical radio stations round the world, is planning an academy in Coventry. Both are advocates of teaching creationism to schoolkids. The Government has so far abandoned enlightenment values in education that it does not care.

Those who oppose the idea of faith-based schooling for our children need to be aware of the facts and arguments and to take action. This website is designed to help.

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Updated 13 August 2005