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Graeme Archer

Great article Cameron. I am sure there will be comments about the dangers of allowing religious people to run schools. So I will say that to me, a Dawkins-ite atheist, I think that the chance of a good education, delivered according to the wishes of parents, trumps almost any other consideration(*). The reaction of the Labour party in Manchester, and the co-op movement this week, has been stunningly revealing. Rather than dissing the ideas David announced this week, they have spluttered that Tories have no right to express opinions on matters like co-operative schools. From this I infer that they have nothing, intellectually, to offer, other than more state-controlled failure. I feel excited to be part of this revitalised Tory party with its clear mission to improve the lives of the worst off; and thank goodness for the CSJ whose work is the engine of this mission.

(*) of course there should be light-touch regulation to ensure, for example, that post-enlightenment values inform the teaching. I mean science.

Tony Makara

Very true Graeme. The fact that the Conservative party has walked onto, and occupied what Labour see as their territory has rocked them. Labour believe that the poor belong to them. Labour believes it has a monopoly on the suffering of the disadvantaged. Now Labour are in a panic. The way to beat Labour is to beat them in their own perceived back yard. The Conservative party must get into the redbrick towns now while Labour is in government, while Labour incompetence is exposed, and show that there is an alternative. Co-operative schools are a great idea, and a real alternative to the failed top-down education that has ruined the prospects of so many children.


There is nothing inherently socialist about co-operatives. If a group of people get together and contract to run an organisation on co-operative principles that is a perfectly capitalist act. Indeed, locally run schools is an inherently conservative act. OK, so the funding for this is coming from the state but it's a step in the right direction.

Brian W

What an excellent and very thoughtful idea. It deserves very serious consideration and not a dismissal by the lefties who believe that this is their territory.

I am a School Governor and at one of my two schools where I have this honour to serve, we are going through a visioning excercise for the future. What is emerging as part of our process is that the education of the children comes first and the mechanics are ultimately a peripheral consideration.

This is another route worthy of serious consideration and in a perverse sort of way I hope that the Government have the audacity to steal our ideas since at least we will then have the opportunity to build on the foundations, always assuming that they have the slightest idea of how to implement them.

I firmly believe that politics should be kept out of education since our children get only one real chance in life but I fear that this is but a forlorn hope.


Seems to me that the school runs on good will. Not many heads will work for nothing! Also, the parents provide many of the materials needed to run the school, so the cost per student is probably about the same as in the state sector.

Just a thought - this article says that religion has little to do with day to day teaching. If that's the case why not put all our minds at rest and say that charity schools of this sort cannot be religious at all.

Victor, NW Kent

I write as a non-religious person who was exposed to church, Sunday School and a grammar school whose Head was a Doctor of Divinity. Through those means I was exposed to a Christian set of ethics which has guided my actions on countless occasions - not from fear of a god but out of conviction that principles such as these are what glues society together.

Looking at today's youth have no sense of such values so I welcome any group of people who will educate children and imbue them with respect for their fellow men, for society, for authority.

It is clear that state education cannot do that anymore, having lost the will.

I am unclear as to why such simple precepts can be disputed whatever religion or superstition one adheres to or even if one is an atheist. There is no excuse for educating children without inculcating them with the concept of virtues. Surely that is not the exclusive preserve of the Christian church?

John Moss

Derrick Wilson is an inspiration. I met him when IDS was leader and was trying to get the media to see the work that was going on, rather than pursuing their crack-habit fixation on "Tory-Split". Fat Chance!

However, there is one thing which we MUST get right with "Co-operative Schools" - or whatever we call them. They must not be beholden to Local Authorities. They must have the right to ALL the funding available per pupil in that area or the LEAs will strangle them at birth.

I actually quite like the idea of LAs providing a percentage of the funding through local taxation, say 25%, but there should be a complete ending of the idea of local, political control of schools. The only way to achieve that is to make sure there are no stings attached to the money.

John Moss

Just seen Graeme's comment and I agree. The US actually strikes a good balance here with Charter Schools. Whilst they cannot be religeous, they can be run by faith based organisations.

The subtle difference is that they can teach Religeous Education, but Religeous Instruction is banned.

I suggest the way to achieve this is to take away the daily act of worship and require existing faith schools to only do the religeous stuff "out of hours". I know some will say that faith schools are amongst the best in the country, but there is a Chicken and Egg situation here, brought about by the failure of the comprehensive experiment, ( I do like that phrasing), driving parents to ever greater lengths to achieve the best for their childrenn and those schools retaining more independence.

I see little "faith related" reasons for their superior performance other than this.

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