Planned changes to the rules about faith schools haven’t made huge headlines – in fact the announcement was slipped out under the cover of the more obviously controversial grammar school proposal. You may not even know that the UK Government is scrapping a rule that new faith centred free schools have to allow at least some people of other faiths in. Even if you do, it may not sound like a big deal.
When you think “faith schools” you may think of a scattered few Muslim Schools or Jewish Schools – if these aren’t religions you follow personally, you might not be too bothered about trying and send your child to one. But a full third of state-funded schools in the UK are faith schools – 68% of those Church of England and 30% Catholic.
Whether you have school-age kids or not, whether you have a faith or not, there are two reasons this might matter to you.
- Because fostering inclusion, diversity and empathy should be priorities, especially right now.
- Because children shouldn’t be deprived of a quality education because of the personal beliefs of their parents.
Isn’t now a time when a united society matters more than ever?
In a Brexit/Trump era tensions and fears are running high. Exactly when promoting inclusion, respecting diversity and fostering empathy should be national priorities, the UK Government is taking a dangerous swerve towards damaging segregation – supposedly to boost social mobility, but that has been strongly contested. If you’ve not quite had “enough of experts” yet, integration expert Professor Ted Cantle has written powerfully about why this is a big, damaging deal. Also, the Casey Review into “integration and opportunity in isolated and deprived communities” has this month specifically recommended “more integrated schools.”
Segregation is damaging for everyone. It’s damaging for the minorities who could find themselves excluded from the best schools, but also for the kids with parents of the “right” faith. Wouldn’t every child benefit from mixing with a variety of children from a variety…