Faith schools are at odds with society, are bad for society and should not be funded by the taxpayer. They deliver a questionable system of education to their pupils and division to the community. The current furore over the Islamification of schools in the Midlands is a sideshow to the main event – the perversion of education for religious ends enshrined in our state education system through taxpayer-funded Voluntary Aid funding, although voluntary is a misnomer.
Catholic, Jewish and Muslim schools are notoriously segregational – the Catholic pupils of one prominent west London school amount to 97% of the total, or so they claim. It is important to remind oneself that were it not for government funding that school would probably not exist, nor the Muslim, Jewish or C of E schools throughout the country. They all rely on funding through the Voluntary Aid scheme – taxpayer money paying to segregate children and, amongst other cultural crimes, to allow redacting of science exams and the development of arguments to defend one religion or another’s stance on issues such as abortion, creationism etc.
The decision to maintain funding through VA is one that should sit outside the In tray of the Department of Education because it shapes the very society in which we live. To allow segregated, faith schools through the VA programme is to promote specific approaches to gender, science, morality and social cohesion that are in contradiction to progressive thinking. How is it justifiable to redact science exams to prevent students from even considering the Big Bang or evolution? Further, how is it acceptable for a British government to enable this by direct funding which preserves and nurtures abhorrent institutions of false learning and prejudice?
Faith schools do better than regular state schools by enjoying discriminatory practices. Because they can be selective they can control entrants. This alone will benefit a school’s ranking and Ofsted reports. There is strong evidence to show that a high degree of selectivity will create an uplift in standards. There is a ‘middle class effect’ whereby affluent, timerich and savvy parents, recognising the better than average (and more importantly free) education that their local faith school offers, ease their children into them by all manner of devious ways. They move into the local area, start attending church services (“Mummy, I didn’t know you believe in God”, “Hush, shut up and pray!”), gardening for the vicar, make donations etc. This produces a school with improved Ofsted ratings and in turn attracts other middle-class parents who learn the tricks required for entrance. Other parents, less savvy and time-poor are left out of this appalling hog-rush to the best local schools, consigning poorer children to worse schools. Thus rather then promote cohesion and social mobility, faith schools work against it.
It is hard to think of a Jew mourning the passing of an Islamic school or vice versa. Or a Christian lamenting the closure of a Hindu school. Faith schools are only relevant to the members of a particular faith which makes it seem all the more bizarre that the state should play a hand in supporting these institutions. It is not enough for one government or another to claim that through VA funding it is nurturing a plural society. A plural society can indeed be nurtured through Acts of Parliament guaranteeing freedoms. But that is the only role the state should play in this matter unless, of course, the state is telling us that it believes that religion, no matter which, is good for society. If that is the case then we should be told that we are not, as we thought we were, living in a democracy, but rather in a theocracy.
There is no such thing as a Catholic / Muslim/ Jewish / Hindu / C of E child. They simply do not exist. There are, however, the children of religious parents. These mothers and fathers can ensure, by sending their children to state-funded faith schools, the indoctrination of their offspring into the same faith, prejudices and sensibilities. Again, why is this a matter for taxpayer money? Statefunded faith schools are ensuring that Britain retains, at its heart, a shortsighted, anachronistic instrument of division and misinformation which, like it or not, you have to pay for.
Since Cromwell, through Hume, Locke, Voltaire and Jefferson, from civil war to the ballot box, we have understood that the individual’s rights must be protected by separating the powers of Church and State. What one man believes must not be imposed on the next man. For an inclusive society religion and its tenets and dictates should be restricted to the private domain and not allowed to affect state affairs. The Enlightenment recognised that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Ask a Sunni.
Theoretically in Britain the separation of Church from State established the monarch as head of the Church of England and the (democratically elected) Prime Minister the leader of Parliament. So why the fuck are there still bishops sitting in the House of Lords? Does their piety give them a right to a vote? It seems it does and so Britain has never really kicked religion out of the state. Vestiges like this ensure that faith schools don’t look quite so weird and perverted as they ought to.