Status anxiety

Sorry, campaining mums – it’s faith that makes faith schools work

Why I can’t support the Shepherd’s Bush fair admissions campaign

8 March 2014

9:00 AM

8 March 2014

9:00 AM

An email popped into my inbox on Tuesday morning urging me to join a ‘fair admissions campaign’ that’s been launched by a couple of mums in Shepherd’s Bush. Their children are at a local primary school and they’re angry that they won’t be able to get them into any of the local faith schools. ‘Two of our children are in Year Five and we feel offended by the fact that out of 11 secondary schools in the borough almost half will put them at the very bottom of the waiting list due to our “wrong” beliefs,’ they write.

Now, I’m probably among the dozen or so local residents least likely to join this campaign but, to be fair, I don’t think they singled me out. Rather, they sent the same email to hundreds of people, hoping to cash in on the fact that Tuesday was ‘National Offer Day’, the day when parents who’ve applied to state secondaries learn their children’s fate.

I have some sympathy for these women. One of the reasons I helped set up the West London Free School is because I, too, was unhappy about the quality of education being offered by the local secular comprehensives. But that was five years ago. There are three new secondary schools in the borough now — two of them free schools — and the old ones have got better. For instance, the percentage of children getting five A–Cs in their GCSEs including English and maths at Fulham Cross Girls’ School was 48 per cent in 2008, compared to 69 per cent in 2013. The gap in quality between local comprehensives and local faith schools is closing.


However, I’m afraid that’s where my sympathy ends. What parents who complain about being excluded from faith schools don’t understand is that the reason they’re above average — which is why they want to send their children to them in the first place — is precisely because of their religious ethos. To a great extent, that ethos depends upon being able to reserve a majority of their places for children of a particular faith. It follows that if the schools in question adopted a ‘fair’ admissions policy, i.e. admitted children of all faiths and none, they’d lose their distinctive ethos and become more bog standard. In effect, if the faith schools did what these mothers are asking and adopted ‘fair’ admission arrangements, they wouldn’t want to send their children to them.

But, of course, the arrangements aren’t in the least bit unfair. The two mums who have started this campaign claim the reason it’s wrong for faith schools to discriminate in this way is because they’re funded by the state and, as such, shouldn’t prioritise the children of some taxpayers over others. But it’s inevitable that all state schools will discriminate in favour of some taxpayers. Generally speaking, secular schools prioritise those children who live closest to their gates. Aren’t they being equally ‘unfair’, given that those parents who live outside the catchment areas are also taxpayers? If it’s ‘unfair’ to prioritise one set of taxpayers over another, then all schools are guilty of the same sin.

A better argument the women could make is that the percentage of places available at faith secondary schools in the borough is higher than the percentage of borough residents who share those faiths. They sort of make this argument when they claim that ‘almost half’ of the schools in Hammersmith and Fulham are faith schools.

In fact, only three of the 11 secondary schools in Hammersmith and Fulham reserve a majority of their places for children of a particular faith, all of them Christian. That’s 27 per cent. When did 27 per cent become ‘almost half’? And even if it was ‘almost half’ that wouldn’t be a knockdown argument since, according to the 2001 census, 64 per cent of the borough’s population describe themselves as ‘Christian’.

The fundamental point missed by those who campaign against faith schools is that Christians are taxpayers too and many of them want their children to attend schools with a Christian ethos surrounded by children who share their faith. If all schools became secular, most of these parents would be forced to send their children to secular schools and that would be no more ‘fair’ than forcing secular parents to send their children to faith schools. It strikes me that the most liberal and tolerant position is to allow those taxpayers who want to send their children to faith schools to continue to do so.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Toby Young is associate editor of The Spectator.

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Show comments
  • Rockin Ron

    C.S. Lewis – ‘That Hideous Strength’

    “I thought love meant equality,” she said, “and free companionship.”

    “Ah, equality?” said the Director. “We must talk of that some other time.
    Yes, we must all be guarded by equal rights from one another’s greed,
    because we are fallen. Just as we must all wear clothes for the same
    reason. But the naked body should be there underneath the clothes,
    ripening for the day when we shall need them no longer. Equality is not
    the deepest thing, you know.”

    “I always thought that was just what it was. I thought it was in their souls that people were equal.”

    “You were mistaken,” said he gravely. “That is the last place where they are
    equal. Equality before the law, equality of incomes—that is very well.
    Equality guards life; it doesn’t make it. It is medicine, not food.”

  • ohforheavensake

    Hi Toby-

    Here’s a response that the people you attack have just posted.

    Guess what? Turns out you’re almost entirely wrong. Again-

    http://fairadmissions.org.uk/toby-young-attacks-parent-led-hammersmith-and-fulham-fair-admissions-campaign/

  • Jeremy Rodell

    The arguments here apply equally well if the discrimination on admissions were on the basis of skin colour, or which school your parents went to, rather than on parental faith. It’s just that only faith has a special exemption from equalities legislation.

    It’s factually incorrect to say that faith schools get good results because of their faith ethos – see this report (and others): http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN04405/faith-schools-admissions-and-performance. The difference is down to socio-economic selection, which in turn is enabled by faith-based selection which informed and motivated parents can use by going to church even if they are not religious.

    It’s true that house prices are higher nearer good schools, and that leads to unfairness. But why compound that unfairness by adding faith-based discrimination? Two wrongs don’t make a right. Better to move to a ballot system if that’s a real concern. In fact its importance differs between primary and secondary: in some areas it’s local council policy that it should be possible to walk from home to a primary school. Instead some children have to walk past their nearest primary because their parents’ have the “wrong” beliefs (or refuse to pretend).

    Just because no system is perfect doesn’t mean that obvious unfairness should be ignored. Well done to the people who have raised this!!!

    • tjamesjones

      actually that’s not true – “skin colour” and “what school your parents went to” are not things that we can change or choose – your faith is. Faith schools don’t discriminate against people who have chosen to embrace (in most cases here) going to church. And the reason for this legacy is that it was the church in the first place that established the schools. I’m sure you can come up with some fresh objections, but these here are not strong on logic.

      • Jeremy Rodell

        a) Primary school children do not choose the faith of their parents.
        b) By the same logic it would be ok to discriminate on the basis of faith in, say, hospital admissions.
        c) While it’s true that the churches played an important role in the early history of universal education, as they did in hospitals, Voluntary Aided schools received 100% of their running costs and 90% of their ongoing capital costs from the taxpayer. For Academies it’s 100% of both. These are state-funded services. Yet they can turn away a local child simply because of the religious practices of its parents.
        This is not an argument for the abolition of church-run schools, but for equality of access to a key state-funded service.

        • tjamesjones

          As Toby Young points out, Christians are taxpayers, most schools in the district are not faith schools, most people in the district identify as Christian blah blah. There is no lack of proportion, only a lack of willingness on the part of these mums to accept difference. Why, after all, are these mums or their defenders so keen to get their kids into a faith school? Perhaps the faith schools do have something going for them. I think it’s hard to say that faith schools can remain faith schools yet can’t reasonably choose how they organise their affairs.

          • Jeremy Rodell

            1. We don’t have hypothecated taxation in this country. Paying tax doesn’t entitle anyone to special privilege over other taxpayers. In this case the effect is to grant one group of taxpayers a far wider choice than others, as those meeting the faith school criteria also have equal access to community schools, while in many cases those who do not only have the choice of the community schools. People who argue for choice in the education system cannot at the same time argue for that choice to be spread unfairly.

            2. The requirement for faith schools is that people are churchgoers – only around 10% of the population. The requirement is not that they were among the declining number who – when asked the leading “What is your religion?” question in the Census – ticked the “Christian” box.
            Why should churchgoers – boosted by parents playing the system (and who can blame them?) – have special privileged access to state-funded schools?

            3. To put it into context: according to the OECD, of the 30 or so member countries – i.e the world’s developed nations – only 4 allow faith-based discrimination in access to state-funded schools: England, Estonia, Ireland and Israel. We’re a real outlier on this. Sooner or later a government will have the courage to change it, or at least put some restriction in place.

          • tjamesjones

            I think you do, in essence, want to abolish church schools, if by a salami style. If it happens, which would not greatly surprise me, it’s a victory for the bland. I don’t think it takes a lot of imagination to make sense of the world as it is today: it’s pretty likely that a churchgoer would want to send their child to a church school (so misleading to suggest that their choice is wider). I’m not, fundamentally, arguing for choice, I’m defending what is in place today – this is the spectator not the guardian.
            It’s likely that being a church school has qualities that are valued by those churchgoers, and I believe those qualities are an important part of what makes those schools work so well. Can’t you see that might be true?

            Rather than cutting something down, why not build something up – start your own school (as these churches once did), and seek state funding and run it on the lines that you and the mums want. If not you personally, then support a school that is run as you want.

          • Jeremy Rodell

            It would be foolish to want to abolish high performing schools, whoever is running them. I’m all in favour of levelling up.

            Most church schools own their land and buildings so I can’t see any government being able to afford removing faith schools any time in the foreseeable future.

            But I do think it is foolish to allow, and indeed encourage, new state-funded faith schools in a plural society where social cohesion is so important to harmony. In London there are more Muslims than Catholics, and both are taxpayers. Religious Muslims and Catholics both feel equally strongly and sincerely about education and – like all parents – the desire to do the best for their children. Do you honestly think that taxpayer funding of new Muslim schools is a good idea? Or should the government be working to ensure children of Muslims, Catholics, Anglicans, Jews, Sikhs and Atheists all have equal access to high quality schools in which they mix with and learn to understand and respect each other?

            Having said that, all these arguments are in my view secondary to the core issue: how can it be right for a child to be denied access to a local state-funded school simply on the basis of their parents’ religion?

          • tjamesjones

            I see your point of view. I suppose, deep down, I think people should just go to church and reap the benefits, social and spiritual and in this case educational. Would it kill these mums to go to a church as the school asks them to?

          • Carl Thomas

            So your solution is that, regardless of religious belief, these people should go to church.

            Are you familiar with the 9th commandment, 8th in the Catholic and Lutheran counts? ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour’

            How about the 4th? ‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain’

            Seems bums in seats are more important now. We appear to both regard religion with equal gravity.

          • Jeremy Rodell

            That’s an honest reply. While I respect the important part your faith clearly plays in your life, please also give equal respect to those who don’t share it and find fulfilment and meaning elsewhere. A fair, plural, secular society will only work if everyone’s freedom of belief and practice is respected (within the law) but where there is a level playing field in which no belief group has privilege over others, especially in an area as important as access to state funded education.

          • Snowballguru

            Hilarious idea! You are suggesting atheists become hypocrites? How patronising! I admire your honesty though – that in order to get into better schools, one should work the system, as many parents obviously are. As I said, church attendance appears to be 6%, and that’s mostly the older generation. I doubt that 6% of 4 year olds attend church.

          • Peter Den Haan

            There’s no inequality here. If you want to start a humanist or atheist school, go ahead, I’m happy for it to funded out of my taxes. But don’t make Christians victim of the fact you can’t be bothered.

          • Jeremy Rodell

            To portray reduction in a privilege (priority access to state funded schools) as making Christians “victims” is not credible. To take an extreme example, I’m sure slave owners genuinely felt they were being victimised when their privilege was lost. Fact is, discrimination against children simply on the basis of their parents’ beliefs is wrong. It’s irrelevant whether their parents are Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus or, the biggest group, non-religious of some variety.

          • Peter Den Haan

            Stop at your opening sentence right there. There is no ‘priority access to state funded schools’. Anyone can start a school with a particular emphasis and get state support for it. That Christians have availed themselves of the option more than anyone else is no reason to take it away from them. Be constructive, not destructive. Start a really good humanist school (or w/e floats your boat). Don’t try to abolish faith schools.

            The only discussion worth having is not about state funded privilege – do Christians somehow get a better deal? – but of segmentation – is it a good thing that a state funded institution such as schooling has segments with particular emphases?

            Before answering that question, it’s useful to realise that lots of state funded stuff targets particular groups. Safe houses are often for women. Tarmac is mostly for motorists. Children’s facilities benefit families and not singles. Social integration monies target minorities and Muslims. So, what makes school so different that it becomes unacceptable as a matter of high principle?

          • Gibletparade

            Start our own schools? That makes sense because there’s an infinite amount of money available for schools. In fact, let’s have a school per child.

          • Rocksy

            Having taught in both public and Catholic schools, I can say that there is a significant difference. Faith schools are better. Before we hear the clamouring of objections, I didn’t say they were always perfect but they are definitely better in understanding their roles in society and in character.

        • Rocksy

          Again, belief or skin colour wouldn’t affect the type of treatment a person gets in hospital. Faith does have an impact on the teaching environment, which is why faith schools were founded. Many hospitals have been founded by religious and people of all skin colours and background have been treated without question.

          • Jeremy Rodell

            The issue here is not whether faith schools should exist: many are indeed good schools (as indeed are many non-faith schools). The issue is whether children should be denied access to these good local state-funded faith schools simply on the basis of their parents’ beliefs.
            The stronger the argument that their approach yields a better education (which is what you’re saying) the harder it becomes to defend their unfair admissions policies.

          • Rocksy

            The issue is that they have better education BECAUSE THEY HAVE AN ADMISSIONS POLICY. All educational institutions (at least those of any value), have an admissions policy. Universities etc. If they were to dispense with this admissions policy to allow anyone entry, they would lose the very reason they exist.
            Faith in faith schools is not simply another subject such as math or languages. It imbues everything which makes up the curriculum. Every non faith student who gains entry, dilutes that better education. If enough non faith students are admitted, the value of these schools disappears.
            One more point. The state funds nothing. Taxpayers fund schools etc., and people of faith pay taxes too.

          • Gibletparade

            Are you admitting the admissions policy is used to keep out the plebs? Honestly, what do you think Jesus would think of that?

          • Rocksy

            Reading comprehension is stressed in the faith schools I taught in and attended. Perhaps that isn’t the case in non faith schools.

          • Gibletparade

            I went to a faith school.

            Is that a “no”? Then how do you explain this report? http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN04405/faith-schools-admissions-and-performance

            What do you think Jesus would think of that?

          • Rocksy

            I haven’t read it. This whole conversation started because non faith parents wanted their children to attend faith schools. Apparently they (people who don’t claim to have any religious faith) believe that faith schools are better. This is THEIR opinion. Faith schools don’t claim to be better for anyone except for children who come from faith families.
            As for what Jesus thinks, I believe he gave us an intellect to think for ourselves (He may have short changed you) and to make decisions according to what we think are the best. Otherwise I don’t care what He thinks of faith schools or many other things.

            You now have enough information to go away and try to figure things out for yourself.

          • Gibletparade

            No, the parents want their children to attend GOOD schools. Whether these qualities derive from faith selection is the very issue.

            Interesting that you don’t care what Jesus would think. Maybe you’ve given up Christianity for lent.

          • Luxor Uxor

            You are confusing the concept of faith with class.
            What would Jesus think of that?
            He was exclusive and not inclusive.

          • Gibletparade

            Would Jesus support a selection scheme that resulted in anomalous under-representation of the poor? Read the report?

          • Snowballguru

            More like ” Jeess, what do you think of that honesty! “

      • Gibletparade

        You think your faith is something you can choose? Prove it by changing yours tomorrow. You can change back the day after, since it’s so easy.

        • tjamesjones

          Who said it was easy?

          • Gibletparade

            That’s called hyperbole. You think it’s possible though. So should we all do a survey of our local schools and start to decide to think that, say, Islam is the way to go, based on relative over-subscription of CofE schools? Do you really see that as possible and just? I think it rewards disingenuity.

      • Perseus Slade

        Talking about logic, if “faith” is something that you change to get your kids into a certain school, then it is not faith, just pretending.

        • tjamesjones

          Yes, of course that is true.

          • Gibletparade

            So are you asking “Would it kill these mums…” to pretend to have a faith? You want them to lie?

          • tjamesjones

            No, we’re mixing a few things here. The entry criteria for a church school is not that you have faith, it is that you attend a church. It is well understood that these two things are not the same. But naturally, I and no doubt the church believes that in attending a church you are both contributing to that community and giving yourself a chance of developing what faith you do have.
            Don’t forget, despite the enthusiastic postings of mr snowball et al, we – society and taxpayers are not blank slates. After all, the reason these church schools exist is that churches set them up. And the reason people want to go to these church schools is that they are doing something that is working.

          • Gibletparade

            Interesting that some here say having faithless kids at school would ruin it, whereas you seem to be advocating faithless church attendance. Why wouldn’t a load of heathen turning up rather spoil the congregation? And when those heathen children go to the “faith” school, you don’t see any problem with that? Are you assuming some will get converted? Of course the clerics will claim these additional church attendees as converts in any case, won’t they?

            This isn’t an option for many though. My Jewish colleague reminds me he can’t enter consecrated ground. A friend had a very Catholic schooling and now has problems with anything ecclesiastical – if she sees a nun, she vomits. I’d be surprised if anyone Muslim would go for this.

          • tjamesjones

            Reminds me of the old joke, a Jew, a lapsed catholic and a muslim walked into a schools admissions office…

            If you’re asking me, we’re all heathens and we all also have some faith – faith is a spectrum. I do think that an admissions policy that encourages people to go to church makes sense for a church school and also has a benefit to the community.

          • Gibletparade

            We don’t all have some faith.

          • Gibletparade
          • Snowballguru

            I’ve been to church, in fact, I was routinely dragged around many European churches as a child of atheists who were admiring the architecture. But that still doesn’t make me want to send my son to a faith school, if there was a fighting chance anyway. Interesting to note that he now attends a community school which is dominated by Muslims since they are also generally excluded from our local faith schools. Atheists and Muslims – an interesting mix. We mustn’t forget that, in addition to the lack of choice for particular groups, the net effect of faith schools is to create ghettos of segregation, just at the age when we should be celebrating diversity and inclusion to facilitate social cohesion.

  • Snowballguru

    I’m sorry, but the PROMOTION of any particular religion with taxpayers’ money is wrong. The TEACHING of all religions with taxpayers’ money is right. Perhaps if we focused on the latter, we would all understand better. There should be no right in the state system to a religiously-led education in the UK. It’s anachronistic, discriminatory and devisive from the early stages of life. If only 6% of the entire UK population attends church, who are these hypocrites who want religiously selective schools? So much for ethos!

    • Treebrain

      “I’m sorry, but the PROMOTION of any particular religion with taxpayers’ money is wrong.”

      Why?

      The Church of England/Anglican church is not alike any other religion.

      The ‘Oath of Allegiance’ still means in the UK and it is sworn to pledge loyalty to the sovereign, who is also Supreme Governor of the Church of England!

    • JoeDM

      Education should be a superstition-free environment.

      • Luxor Uxor

        You are right; the moderrn liberal/secularist cannot even judge the holocaust as wrong as he has no objective basis for doing so.

        • Jeremy Rodell

          Pretty insulting to the huge number of good people who are not religious. And factually wrong. In my view, all morality, including religious, has human origins. And the key is empathy and treating others as you would wish to be treated in their position. The Golden Rule. And before you say that’s simply a Christian idea, look it up. Appears everywhere from Confucius, ancient Greeks, lLeviticus to JS Mill. Being non religious is not being a moral relativist. In fact some of the worst examples of immorality now are actions claimed to be in the name of me fundamentalist religion. Good people, religious and not, need to respect each other and work together.

  • Michelle

    Schools are public state-funded institutions, much like hospitals or the
    fire brigade. Funded by tax-payers’ money, equally available to all.
    Imagine a police station turning someone down because they’re atheists,
    muslim or hindu.

    • Treebrain

      Are you familiar with the ‘Oath of Allegiance’ that police offers in England swear?

      The police officers pledge, currently, to serve the Queen who is Supreme Governor of the Church of England, or did you not know that Michelle?

  • Stanlycam

    I used to drive by a school that had a sign saying “Specialist Language School” or words to that affect . Could they select pupils in the area who had outstanding linguistic skills no of course not . But it is ok to select a child based on their parents belief in a invisible friend .

    • Treebrain

      It certainly is when the head of state, the Queen, believes in ‘an invisible friend’ and her subjects pledge loyalty to her.

      • Jeremy Rodell

        I’m a humanist and I support and admire the Queen. I also tend not to use “invisible friend” language if I want to be kind to people whose Christian belief is important to them (unless they’re trying to evangelise, or disparage my atheism). But, despite having been born in England and living here all my life, I can’t recall ever having pledged allegiance to the Queen, let alone signed up to any privilege for the Church of England. This is 2014. Talk of pledges and loyalty to the monarch belongs in a bygone age.

        • Treebrain

          Jeremy, thank you for your considered response.

          My use of the patronising phrase ‘invisible friend’ was a direct response to Stanlycam.

          As a British subject, (your legal status given your stated origins, you are not required to pledge allegiance to the Queen), it is implicit for all her subjects.

          However, when understanding the way the UK operates, you are of course aware that the basic administrative unit for many centuries is the parish, the calendar employed in the country is derived from the supposed date of the birth of Jesus and that the Head of State is the Sovereign, who is not only at the apex of all political power but is also Supreme Leader of the Church of England.

          Many of those who serve the state and the Sovereign swear an ‘Oath of Allegiance’.

          In so doing, whether Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs or Jews, the person swearing the oath acknowledges her position in both political/temporal and religious/spiritual terms.

    • Luxor Uxor

      When you refer to him as ‘invisible’ I take it that you only count as real those things which you perceive through the senses?
      If so, then truth in poetry would be lost on you.

  • Dear Toby Young,

    I just read your article about the Fair Admissions H&F Campaign
    I initiated with my friend Suzanne at the end of last year and would like to
    respond to it.

    You are arguing that the reason faith schools perform above average is because of their religious ethos. Whether this is the accurate reason or other factors play a part we can’t prove. I wonder though, does the outstanding performance of a school justify selective admission criteria? Is it fair to turn down an applicant because a school produces very good results and pupils from a different faith or from an atheist family may ruin the positive OFSTED rating? A state school should perform well because it is run well by an experienced and enthusiastic head teacher as well as motivated and qualified staff, in a best case scenario backed up by supportive parents, not because it allows itself to turn down children who don’t fit in with their ethos.

    A state school should be open to anyone with an equal chance regardless of their religious belief.

    Whether geographical distance is the fairest alternative remains to be discussed on another page.

    What if I was to argue that my children’s community school performs so well because the majority of pupils come from a non-Christian background. Would it be right to place Catholic applicants at the bottom of the waiting list? I don’t think so.

    I agree with you in that if the schools in question adopted a fair admissions policy, i.e. admitted children of all faiths and none, they’d most likely lose their distinctive ethos and become more bog standard. However, I would welcome this! My point is exactly that – I believe state schools should be bog standard. Just as any other public institution, someone commented in the blog on your article, such as hospitals, police stations or the fire brigade, state schools should adhere to standardised legislation and admission criteria across the board, not have the freedom to make up their own policies. In my view herein lie the beauty and the true value of a state-regulated education system: Free and equal access for everyone. Unlike the private sector where children from a very young age are judged and selected on factors way beyond their understanding.

    Further down this line of thought, if all schools became secular, most religious parents would be forced to send their children to secular schools and that would be no more ‘fair’ than forcing secular parents to send their children to faith schools. In terms of equality before the law I do think this outcome would be ‘fairer’. Religion should be a private matter, something that can be adopted as a lifestyle if desired, to be practised in a personal environment, in a church, at home, in a community or with friends. While it should certainly be respected and not infringed in a personal environment it does not belong in a public surrounding. Whether I choose to raise my child with specific values, be it a lifestyle, a cultural background or a religious faith should be my personal matter but in my view the stance of the state should remain neutral.

    • Treebrain

      “A state school should be open to anyone with an equal chance regardless of their religious belief.”

      Not at all, all religious beliefs are NOT equal in the UK.

      The Anglican Church is the state church and has been ever since its introduction by Henry VIII.

      The Queen is not only the Head of State in the UK but also of the Anglican Church where she is ‘Supreme Governor’.

      DO try to learn something about the role of the Anglican church and the history of England before commenting on faith schools.

      All faiths are NOT equal, at least in England and the UK.

      • Jeremy Rodell

        The fact that the CofE is the Established Church is not relevant to this issue (faith-based discrimination in school admissions). The exemption to equalities law that allows it makes no differentiation between different faiths. In fact CofE schools are generally less exclusive in this respect than Catholic schools, so arguments based on Henry VIII etc really don’t cut much ice!

        • Treebrain

          Jeremy,

          “The fact that the CofE is the Established Church is not relevant to this issue….”

          Oh, but it is, because all faiths are NOT equal and the Anglican Church enjoys a status that raises it above all other faiths in England and the UK.

          The Queen as sovereign is ‘Supreme Governor’ of the Church of England and enjoys no other similar status in other Christian sects or any other religions at all in the UK.

          • Jeremy Rodell

            My point was that all of these arcane points are completely irrelevant to the issue of this thread, which is about faith based discrimination in access to sate-funded schools. The law (signed by the Queen) makes no differentiation between faiths in this respect: Muslims, Jews, Sikhs and Catholics can be just as unfair and discriminatory as Anglicans.

          • Luxor Uxor

            If I wanted my children to mix with Christian children are you saying that I shouldn’t?
            Freedom of association is enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights.

    • Jeremy Rodell

      In fact there is ample evidence that the good performance of faith schools is attributable simply to their discriminatory admissions processes, For example, see this briefing paper from the House of Commons Library http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN04405/faith-schools-admissions-and-performance . Even the Bishop of Oxford, the head of education in the Church of England, has said that he’d be happy to see faith-based selection limited to 10% of places (which would align with the number of active churchgoers).

    • Luxor Uxor

      ‘I agree with you in that if the schools in question adopted a fair admissions policy, i.e. admitted children of all faiths and none, they’d most likely lose their distinctive ethos and become more bog standard. However, I would welcome this! My point is exactly that – I believe state schools should be bog standard.’

      You are free to send your children to the bog standard institution. However, we do’t want this for our children.

      ‘Religion should be a private matter, something that can be adopted as a lifestyle if desired, to be practised in a personal environment, in a church, at home, in a community or with friends.’
      In other words, put Christians in the closet.
      We have just as much right to exercise our values in the public square as anyone else.
      What will you propose next? That singing in church, if it can be heard in public should be banned? That preaching in Hyde Park should be banned?
      That Christians should not turn the other cheek when spat at in public?

  • MichtyMe

    What are the other Government Departments doing on this, when will we be getting “faith” hospitals, what of the MOD, The Islamic Guards, Hindu Hussars perhaps or new MoJ “faith” courts.

  • ohforheavensake

    Hi Toby- just in case I haven’t posted this one to you: this is the response from the people you attack. Turns out you’re pretty much completely wrong. Again.

    http://fairadmissions.org.uk/toby-young-attacks-parent-led-hammersmith-and-fulham-fair-admissions-campaign/

    Just wondering: d’you ever get tired of making mistakes?

  • Gwangi

    Well, I’d support the banning of Muslim schools, that’s for sure.

  • tolpuddle1

    No faith will mean no faith schools.

    A “Fair admissions” policy is self-defeating.

    • Jeremy Rodell

      Are you saying we’re an atheistic society? If so I think you’re wrong -and I’m a humanist. We’re a plural society in which there is a huge range of faith and belief. On the basis of the data, almost certainly those of no religion will soon be in the majority. But a true secular society ensures freedom of belief and speech for all within the law. And it’s important that we met and understand each other. That’s yet another reason to avoid religious segregation in state school admissions. You only have to look at Northern Ireland to see how badly that can go.

      • tolpuddle1

        Late-Roman times were as plural and secular as our own; but Christianity converted the Roman Empire rather than swallowing pluralism and secularity.

        The Moslems are even less tolerant towards pluralism and secularity, and as an ever larger portion of the British people becomes Moslem, you will see that this is so.

        And you can’t have it both ways – if you accept the existence of a school buoyed up by faith, you must accept its right to maintain that faith.

        • Jeremy Rodell

          In that case, how come there are many Anglican schools with no faith based admissions, including three new ones in Ealing, Camden and Hampton? And how come the London Diocese has a stated policy of increasing inclusivity? There is no misfit between schools run on a religious ethos or motivation (whether you think that’s a good idea of not) and reducing/eliminating faith based discrimination in admissions.

          • tolpuddle1

            I see – faith schools are a very good thing, providing they’ve got nothing to do with faith.

          • rob232

            The Church of England is a state religion and it belongs to everybody. It cannot be taken as a pattern to be imitated. If you want to baptise your child or get married in church the Church of England is there for you regardless of the religion you may profess.
            So it is only to be expected that they will not select only Anglican pupils but leave their schools open to everyone.

          • Jeremy Rodell

            Trouble is, many of them are highly restrictive. That can’t be right. And that’s the issue we’re debating.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    When I was involved in placing Japanese children in independent school in UK (1995-2003), it wasn’ possible to find a school that wasn’t “faith based” or at least had a strong faith (Christian) component.

    • Jeremy Rodell

      That’s quite different: we’re talking about the state sector here, not indpependent schools. And there are indeed some state schools that have a faith ethos but are not formally “designated” as faith schools. They are not allowed to discriminate in admissions. Its discriminatory admissions to taxpayer funded schools that’s the issue.

      • Luxor Uxor

        ‘They are not allowed to discriminate in admissions. Its discriminatory admissions to taxpayer funded schools that’s the issue.’
        I take it that, by law, you would support the admission of a transgendered boy to ‘loiter’ in our daughters’ toilets?
        Your support of the civil law would be correct. Of course your support of the law, in such a case, would be in support of a legally correct concept: a legal fiction.
        Further, I take it that you would support such a ‘boy’ to run in our girls’ Egg and Spoon race?
        Should the Barbarians be banned from discriminating against female rugby players?
        Can’t you see why you humanists disgust parents?

        • Jeremy Rodell

          A) Most people who want to end faith based discrination in school admissions are not humanists as far as I know.
          B) you analogies are invalid. We”re not talking here about gender segregation.
          C) your final sentence is rude and uncalled for Ina reasoned debate Oman important topic. It’s clear you have rarely if ever met a humanist.

  • BaraccoBarner

    Kompletelly agree Toasty Yob. Keepe up gd work.

  • Terry Field

    Faith schools were great when faith was non-didactic and the ‘churches’ were humble.
    From 1945 to about 1990
    The end of the eastern socialist state and the injection of radical Islamic barbarism
    into this once quite exquisite nation now makes the centres of religion once more nasty, arrogant, exclusive and really very dangerous indeed.
    And that is why the schools that parrot faith as a badge of group exclusivity are divisive, destructive, dangerous and will help propel the population back to its 17th century hell.

  • exSecondaryModernTeacher

    I washed the vicar’s surplice for years but my son still didn’t get a school place. It’s so unfair!

    http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2014/03/i-washed-the-vicars-surplice-for-years-but-my-son-still-didnt-get-a-school-place-its-so-unfair/

  • rtj1211

    Are you saying you’d have the same views if a secular school said: ‘we think all the God squad nonsense is precisely that: nonsense!’ and ran an excellent school being atheists?? If the school was the best in the borough and God-fearing parents were told their children were excluded because they believed in Jesus’ reincarnation??

    I hope so Mr Young, because otherwise you are a bigot.

    I also hope you don’t dare to imply that you can’t run a good school being an atheist.

    You can, just as you can run a good one teaching children the truth about homosexuality (i.e. most people are heterosexual, but some aren’t and they should have equal life chances without exception), just as you can run a good one saying that readin, ritin n rifmatick aren’t the route to educational motivation per se. Any more than liberal arts, history and latin are either. They are for some, they aren’t for others. The day you say that those who happen to respond to latin as an educational tool are ‘superior’ is the day I will call you an educational racist. There are women who were/are attracted to you and others who aren’t. There’s no difference in the value of those women, just a difference in their sexual tendencies.

    What is required to run a good school is to have a coherent educational philosophy, a curriculum which fits that philosophy, teachers committed to that philosophy and skilled in teaching it and a cohort of children selected as being likely-, willing- and happy to respond to that philosophy for between 7 and 14 years.

    You’re not likely to run a good Muslim faith school being an atheist homosexual. Equally, I have contempt for any Muslim who tries to ram their own religious beliefs down a country whose roots have nothing to do with it and hence is unlikely to see Muslim Faith schools as more than a valuable niche offering.

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