Comments: more on faith schools

For a whole range of reasons I'm not a particular fan of church schools as they currently exist. OTOH I think we need to note that Simon Barrow's Ekklesia is fundamentally an anabaptist think-tank that is diametrically and ideologically opposed to an established church. When that anti-establishment ideology draws them into happy synergy with the rich and privileged atheist world of Polly Toynbee, I think we are at least entitled to ask questions. Not least, when we pick our allies, is the principle of separation of church and state more importnat than the truth of whether God exits?

Posted by Doug Chaplin at Friday, 5 September 2008 at 12:10am BST

No John Hall Rabbi Romaine is not tilting at windmills --- he simply has a different view from yours ! Why so defensive ?

I had no idea the C of E stood for respect and diversity, I must say.

It must be news to all who have followed its shameful (and shameless) treatment of LGBT people, and of religious dissent.

Posted by Treebeard at Friday, 5 September 2008 at 1:08am BST

This is fundamentally a social and political issue, not a religious one. I went to a bog-standard comp in the 1970s and 1980s and it was just as skewed to the social and educational needs of the middle-classes as much as 'faith' schools appear to be now. All good schools are oversubscribed (there being one near to me that is not a faith school but is very difficult for parents to get their children into). Vast swathes of ordinary people do in effect though sacrifice their children's education to a facile and spurious elitism in this country.

5.2 million functionally illiterate people in the UK at the present time (http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/About/FAQs.html) is simply BAD. If the Established Church were to do something about this social injustice in these islands, the schools it sponsors would perhaps gain more respect. Anglicans seem to recognise the importance of literacy in the developing world:

http://aid.anglicancommunion.org/stories/story1.cfm

Why isn't this recognition made concrete here?

Posted by orfanum at Friday, 5 September 2008 at 1:13pm BST

Doug: Ekklesia believes in the church as discipleship community well ahead of tame 'civic religion', true. But as well as Anabaptist roots we have strong ecumenical ones. I'm an Anglican. Also, while we might agree with humanists on some things, we also agree with and work with evangelicals on others. What informs our contribution is a strong theological perspective and commitment to the integrity of Christian witness - which is undermined when Christians behave as a bossy, self serving club.

On Canon John Hall's piece. Factually, he is wrong about the European Convention on Human Rights (slightly worrying that the C of E's senior figures don't understand this!). The state doesn't have to run religious schools to comply. If it did then the French education system would be illegal and each local area would need state-funded faith schools of every persuasion. On standards, his comments ignore the most in depth research carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research, which says the evidence does not support the conclusion that faith schools raise standards over all. Selection may advantage some. But it disadvantages others. That's different.

The fact that the Church of England Newspaper has written a leader sympathetic to Accord shows that the debate is moving, and that Christians have nothing to fear from being in favour of opening up faith schools.

Posted by Simon Barrow at Friday, 5 September 2008 at 5:57pm BST
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