Tony Blair on faith schools

[Extract from Jeremy Paxman interview, BBC2, 16/5/02]

JP: Is it your religious conviction that makes you tolerant of the idea of faith schools?

TB: No, I think there is a strong case for faith schools because I think parents often like to have their children brought up with the certain ethos that they believe in, and I think what people should remember about faith schools, is that we have had faith schools for years in this country, the issue is simply whether we say to the Muslim community, you can have Christian faith schools, you can have Jewish faith schools but you can't have Muslim faith schools. I don't know how I would explain that to them.

JP: You don't accept the force of Peter Hain's point the other day, that that would be likely to encourage what he calls "isolationism" in the Muslim community?

TB: No, I think it is actually better to have communities feeling that they can have faith schools which obviously then abide by the national curriculum, than having sometimes people on more of an ad hoc basis with particular majorities in particular schools.

JP: You would be happy for your child to be taught that was it was literally true that the world was made in six days?

TB: I don't think my children are taught that. I'm not sure that any children are.

JP: You would be happy for your child to go to a school in which that was imparted as fact?

TB: Well, I don't know that it is imparted as fact. Who imparts that as fact?

JP: Creationists impart that as fact.

TB: If this is to do with the school up in the north-east, I wouldn't believe everything that's said. I think you will find the school abides by the national curriculum and teaches children perfectly well. I know there is a lot of criticism of that school, but look at the results. They are pretty good.


Updated 22 May 2003