Madeleine Bunting wrote an article on Comment is free headed Faith schools can best generate the common purpose that pupils need.
Theo Hobson has written another article there, headed Throw open the doors which responds to her, noting that:
More recently, Madeleine Bunting wrote an excellent piece in support of Oasis, a Christian charity that runs new academy schools. It renounces the right to use selection by church attendance, and is thus in accord with Accord.
I agree with Bunting that this is the way forward. Unlike church schools in general, this organisation has grasped the crucial point: it is only possible for Christians to do good in the field of education if they reject a system that privileges the pushy and rewards hypocrisy. If Oasis changes the churches’ mind, it could be a real breakthrough in our broken education system. It will take courage and humility for the Church of England to admit that it has erred, and to recommend that all its schools open their admissions policies. There’s nothing stopping it, but pride and love of power.
What is perhaps most objectionable about Hall’s article is the implication that a positive ethos is unlikely to be found in a non-faith school:
“Ethos in a school context is about the values the school espouses and the behaviour that results. A school built on the conviction that every member of its community is an individual made and loved by God and with an eternal destiny in God’s purposes will be one in which people treat each other with mutual respect and regard”.
I would like to invite Hall to an assembly at my children’s community primary school in Harlesden, where children of all faiths and none celebrate what they have in common, and are taught “mutual respect and regard” by dedicated staff (some of whom are religious believers – this is not about atheists v believers). The school community is no organic idyll – there’s lots of people with different cultural baggage coming into tentative contact with each other. But it’s here that real community is difficultly born.