Sunday, August 31, 2008

New pressure over faith schools

BBC says,'Ministers are being urged to stop faith schools in England selecting pupils and staff on the basis of their religion.
Accord, a new coalition of secular and religious figures, wants the government to stop state-funded schools engaging in what they say is "discrimination".
It argues that all children should have equal access to good local schools and that segregating them on religious grounds harms community cohesion.
The government argues faith schools can help boost standards in deprived areas.
There are about 6,850 faith schools in England out of a total of 21,000 schools. The vast majority of these are Roman Catholic or Church of England.
But they also include about 40 Jewish schools and a handful of Muslim, Sikh and Greek Orthodox schools.

In September 2007, Schools Secretary Ed Balls said the government would open more faith schools where there was parental demand.
But the move has angered some teachers who complain of discriminatory employment practices.
The Accord coalition is made up of religious leaders, humanists and teachers who have come together to call for, not an end to, but a change to faith schools.

It is being chaired by Rabbi Jonathan Romain, the minister of Maidenhead Synagogue.
He said: "Our aim is for every single school to welcome children from all backgrounds. It is a simple goal, strongly supported by the public, educationalists and students."
He added that as a rabbi he was committed to Jewish values but he also understood that no one would gain if this was done in a way that damages community relations.
Faith schools can be very over-subscribed because they often do better than local authority-controlled state schools.
And many have claimed their ability to select pupils on the basis of their faith means they can engage in covert forms of academic selection.

Accord claims that forthcoming research shows the family wealth of pupils, rather than the religious ethos of the school leads to better than average grades.
One of the coalition's supporters, Reverend Iain McDonald, Minister of Southernhay United Reformed Church in Exeter, Devon said the present system "encouraged hypocrisy".
"There are those who attend church in order that their children qualify for admission to a particular school and never set foot in the church again after the children have been accepted."
General Secretary of Association of Teachers and Lecturers Dr Mary Bousted said: "All children - regardless of their religion, culture, and family income - should have equal access to the best possible education in a good local school.
"Allowing schools to pick and choose pupils is not the best way to achieve this or to create young adults with the confidence and personal skills to live and work in our vibrant multi-cultural society."
Children's minister Kevin Brennan said faith schools were a long-established part of the state school system in England.
"Parents should be able to choose the type of education and ethos they want for their children. The bottom line is that faith schools are successful, thriving, popular and here to stay.
"It is down to locally accountable councils and communities themselves, not some campaign group, to decide what sort of schools they should have."
As well as changes to the admissions and staffing criteria, Accord wants to see faith schools follow an objective and balanced religious education syllabus - covering a range of religious and non-religious beliefs.
It wants compulsory acts of worship to be replaced with stimulating multi-faith and secular assemblies.
These might feature religious leaders from different faith groups coming into the school to give talks in assemblies.
It says: "Given the dangers of segregation and the importance of community cohesion we need schools that welcome all and are committed to non-discrimination."'

Liberals whether secular or apparently religious are often united in their beliefs. The one thing I can agree with in their report is that present selection on C of E schools encourages the hypocrisy of temporary church attendance. But Accord seems to me to be wedded to the comprehensive and opposed to all selection. Its proposals go against the raison d'etre of faith schools and if implemented would lead to the loss of their distinctiveness and achievements. For once I am on the side of the government. However, in the light of our post 9/11 world I believe Muslim schools require very close supervision.


Iftikhar Ahmad said...

Muslim Youths

Muslim youths are angry, frustrated and extremist because they have been mis-educated and de-educated by the British schooling. Muslim children are confused because they are being educated in a wrong place at a wrong time in state schools with non-Muslim monolingual teachers. They face lots of problems of growing up in two distinctive cultural traditions and value systems, which may come into conflict over issues such as the role of women in the society, and adherence to religious and cultural traditions. The conflicting demands made by home and schools on behaviour, loyalties and obligations can be a source of psychological conflict and tension in Muslim youngsters. There are also the issues of racial prejudice and discrimination to deal with, in education and employment. They have been victim of racism and bullying in all walks of life. According to DCSF, 56% of Pakistanis and 54% of Bangladeshi children has been victims of bullies. The first wave of Muslim migrants were happy to send their children to state schools, thinking their children would get a much better education. Than little by little, the overt and covert discrimination in the system turned them off. There are fifteen areas where Muslim parents find themselves offended by state schools.

The right to education in one’s own comfort zone is a fundamental and inalienable human right that should be available to all people irrespective of their ethnicity or religious background. Schools do not belong to state, they belong to parents. It is the parents’ choice to have faith schools for their children. Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. There is no place for a non-Muslim teacher or a child in a Muslim school. There are hundreds of state schools where Muslim children are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools. An ICM Poll of British Muslims showed that nearly half wanted their children to attend Muslim schools. There are only 143 Muslim schools. A state funded Muslim school in Birmingham has 220 pupils and more than 1000 applicants chasing just 60.

Majority of anti-Muslim stories are not about terrorism but about Muslim
culture--the hijab, Muslim schools, family life and religiosity. Muslims in the west ought to be recognised as a western community, not as an alien culture.
Iftikhar Ahmad

Graham Weeks said...

Thank you for your comments. I believe Christians and Muslims should make common cause against the secularists and the other opponents of faith schools. However my understanding is that education is the responsibility of parents. It the state decrees universal education it should be provided in accordance with the wishes of the parents. There is no neutrality in the provision of education. It will be on the basis of affirming a religion or secularist, denying that any religion gives any source of truth.

However your demand for bilingual education and schools which admit no pupil not of your religion seem to show no desire whatsoever for integration into the wider community. It is the behavior of an alien culture which insists on being totally separate.

Graham Weeks said...

Iftikhar made the same comment on this url
so is he spamming comments?