Tuesday, November 20, 2007


The truth about church schools Simon Barrow Guardian Comment-is-Free Nov 20 07, 11:00am: When the Church of England's own survey shows widespread dissatisfaction with its schools, it's time to face the facts.

"Taken together with other surveys that show widespread questioning and dissatisfaction among parents and others concerned with schooling, [the Opinion Research Business (ORB) survey, commissioned by the Church of England and published yesterday] signals the need for a much wider debate about community-based inclusive schooling, whether faith schools can contribute to it, and where they cannot, what changes are needed in public policy.

"There are two major blocks on such a debate. First, both government and the church have a vested interest in preserving the status quo. The government is desperate in its search for legitimation, popularity among middle-class voters, and mechanisms for service delivery. The Church of England believes (probably wrongly) that church schools will deliver a further generation of adherents and that a stake in educational governance gives it credibility in the face of falling numbers and finance. As the traditional alliance of church and state withers, this is the shape of a wider, emerging "new deal". It needs proper attention and criticism.

"Second, those with a vested interest in faith schools often seek to portray opposition to them as just the bitterness of a small anti-religious minority. The angry rhetoric of some secular groups does not help, as a civil servant observed to me recently. But the issue is that there are many voices not being adequately reflected in the current "debate". For a start the concerns of a majority of parents, plus teaching unions, a leading government adviser, a number of Christian chaplains, Londoners, Jewish rabbis, Hindus, Muslims, Methodists, humanists, Quakers and others who do not share the dominant assumptions of Anglican and Catholic pro-faith schools lobby."

Full article here.

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