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His Grace is dismayed at Lord Baker's proposal, and wonders how they propose to compel parents with no or a contrary faith adherence to send their children to a school with a faith adherence of which they do not approve.

Catchment areas? Quotas? "Your Catholic children WILL go to a Muslim school because it is the nearest to you / they need to fill their 25% quota".

Sorry, but this is not an election-winning policy, and is quite contrary to Conservative education philosophy.

While respecting the right of anybody to follow the faith of their choice, I rather agree with the view of Professor Richard Dawkins who considers the religious indoctrination of young people as a form of child abuse.

I can thoroughly recommend his new book "The God Delusion" which should be required reading for all politicians.

In response to Les, Dawkins has his own atheistic agenda, and spouts his own scientific presumptions which are also founded on religious assumptions. Atheism and secularism are not somehow 'neutral'; they also constitute a particularised worldview. Why should this pseudo-religious indoctrination be considered more acceptable than the religious indoctrination you consider to be child abuse?

I was amazed by that. Very rare that Labour admits it's got something wrong, then a so-called Conservative tries to re-do the damage. He and the present crop seem to have forgotten that Conservatism is about NOT doing things.

All parents communicate values to their children, Les. Dawkins' talk of child abuse is sensationalist. Noone can be made into a follower of Jesus Christ - every person has to choose that for themselves. What is reasonable, however, is for parents (who are taxpayers, remember) to be able to choose a school that - within limits - is in tune with their values.

Can you even begin to imagine a normal red blooded christian school kid wanting to go to a MADRASSA????? This has to be a no brainer on Ken Baker's part. It takes no account of the changes this country has seen over the last 10 years. There is now more types of worship in this country than ever. CofE, RC, Methodist, Jehovah's, Plymouth Bretheren, Judaeism, Hindoo, Sikh, Buddist, Confucion, Shinto, Baathism, Have run out of ideas - Oh! and Islam!!! And only one Diety/4th dimension/ call it what you will, but it remains a fact that we all fight over our own interpretation of the Divine. Same entity. Different name. Some are extreme, some are mainstream. I say, it is the individual school's decision as to who attends, of what sect. What matters, is that a good education is delivered at their establishment. Otherwise, we are simply screwing up our children even more than they have been screwed up already, education wise. Check the latest literacy and numeracy figures. It is not necessary for a christian child to recite the koran, anymore than a muslim child should recite Hail Mary. There has to be a middle way somewhere.

Sad to see Baker still believing that centralised diktats deliver educational outcomes. State education through church schools arose because of a form of nationalisation of the CoE system. Its continuance is part of a choice agenda - that parents have the right to choose the ethos of a school most like their family beliefs and I would like to see greater diversity of schools and more choice for parents. It is not the state's role to decide these matters but parents. The issue of muslim intolerance and radicalisation of islamic youth is a separate matter - and as the 7/7 bombers went to non-sectarian schoolsshows - it is elsewhere that the solution will be found.

Les should ask himself why it is that Church schools in general produce better results, and are oversubscribed. The answer lies in the ethos of those schools. Because there is a strong desire by parents to see their children in a structured environment discipline is largely self-imposed and backed by the parents. Academic results improve because of a climate in which learning is respected. "Indoctrination" is largely a myth and this explains why intelligent and caring parents who are agnostic still value the Church schools. To devalue these with quotas would be vandalism on a national scale and the sufferers would be the children.

As for Islamic schools the problem is that there is NO hierarchical body with whom the state can negotiate. Until this is sorted there should be no provision for such faith schools. The "faith" must be defined.

"The Cantle Report recommended that faith schools admit a proportion of pupils from other faiths.

Only this week the Church of England said it would implement this recommendation in all new church schools it creates…

…admitting a quarter of pupils from non-Anglican backgrounds.

That is a great example of what I mean by social responsibility.

The Church deciding to take responsibility for community cohesion.

Society - not the state.

I believe the time has come for other faith groups to show similar social responsibility"

David Cameron, Conference speech '06

This stuff could have great credibility, but only if it's a decision of the schools themselves, not top-down diktats. Lord Baker should know better.

Baker should be ashamed of himself. Willetts dragged his feet on this, too, during the week. as the Editor implies this assault on Christian + Jewish schools is camouflage for the real worry - Islamic schools that are not integrationist. [Muslim immigration into Britain and the endless flights from UK to Pakistan airports is equally the real reason why voters are more and more worried about immigration but that fear goes unspoken in the newspapers. Who cares about polish plumbers? But everyone cares about Muslim bombers]. Church schools have never been a problem. It is the many Muslim schools that Labour have introduced because of the party's traditional reliance on Muslim voters. We need a rigorous inspection regime for Muslim schools. Full stop.

I think Lord Baker got this wrong, how an earth could such a policy be enforced? The government have been forced in to an embarrassing U turn because not only is this policy opposed by faith schools and parents, but it should be obvious to anyone it is unworkable.

The idea of parents being forced to send their children to a school they don't want them to go to in order to meet a quota is a complete no brainer.

Quota's generally are a bad idea, this proposal is Heathite in nature based on political correctness.

Next thing it will be proposed that Mosques, Schools, Synagogues will have to have quotas of non-followers, maybe after that political parties - some people will take it far further, I once heard Jean Rivers saying that people should be required to date certain proportions of people who weren't of their ethnic grouping - right the way down the line it causes resentment from people being forced to do things, supposing the Muslim Schools can't get 25% of non-Muslims to join their school because there aren't the applicants - what then. Is anyone excluded? Are Muslim, Jewish or Christian churches going to end up being forced to take people who are from families of Satanists, or from radically hostile sects?

Church Schools invented Education. This is really about about Baker wanting to put some strings on funding on State funding for Muslim schools. I agree on that.They are a law unto themselves and alien to the prevailing culture.We now have have the nonsense of Anglican and Catholic schools (where there is no problem and standards are high) agreeing to a voluntary quota and Muslim schools free from any participation. The answer is no State funding for Muslim schools until their credentials in teaching British cultural values are firmly established.

What we really need of course is state schools that provide a good education. It's because there are so few of these that the whole mess arises.

Well of course Baker was a classic Heathman, although he became one of the good guys under Maggie.

Is he reverting to type?

It's a free country (or is it?) Unless they are receiving direct government handouts, religions should be free to choose who attends their schools.

If their schools are better than state chools then the onus is on the state to improve their establishments.

"Unless they are receiving direct government handouts"

Um, the whole point of these 'faith' schools is that they are government funded!

Are they all? You'll have to tell me. My long-distant education was funded 100% by my father

The fact remains that we still get a school at minimal charge to the taxpayer and we should be very grateful for that fact.

If it's educating x hundred kids and saving me money why should it concern me whose kids they are and whether they go to church or a mosque?

With this proviso. Frankly I believe that if parents can pay for their children's education and save the rest of us hard-earned cash, then they damn well should do so.

I note that Cameron - who is far from being short of a bob or two - intends to make his chaldren a charge on the taxpayer, but no surprise there.

I'm sure the money he saves can be used to purchase something far more worthwhile. A villa in Tuscany for example, or perhaps yet another "green" Lexus.

(PS I used to love my Lexus until "Dave" bought one)

Les - I can thoroughly recommend his new book "The God Delusion" which should be required reading for all politicians.

The fool hath said...

It seems that in Southern England C of E schools have shiny little White children but in areas like Bradford itself they are more likely to be wondering why the school is called St Philips or St Barnabas when they are speaking Urdu to each other and there are only a handful of those White children.

Now when Kenneth Baker was at st Paul's did he wonder why he wasn't mixing with poor White children let alone Kashmiri peasants ? When he was Education Minister lumbering Thatcher with the monster - the National Curriculum - in response to her demand for focus on the 3 Rs - did he consider what our Muslim population with its high birthrate might want to teach its children ?

This was predictable. Feversham College is a single-sex Muslim girls school yet there are very few single-sex boys secondary schools now even in the Independent Sector. The teaching of Comparative Religion has diminished Christianity even in C of E Schools.

Now we have Ken Livingstone using Trafalgar Square to celebrate Eid we can no doubt ask where the Christian cribs and nativity scenes are in public areas ? No doubt the National Secular Society will find Eid acceptable in Central London promoted by the Mayor of London ?


Baker is off his trolley. The people of this country did not ask to have 2.7% population Muslim, it was politicians who opened the immigration door - it does seem remarkable however that the other 97.3% population is being so continually inconvenienced by this minority in every aspect of living.

There is no problem with "Faith Schools" there is seemingly a problem with "Muslim Faith Schools" but there is a phobia that dare not speak its name and hides behind religion in general..........that fear is of Islam

We're going to have to get used to this.

The white population (and the Chinese and now even the Afro-Caribbeans) are failing to reproduce themselves. It's now well below 2 children per couple.

Meanwhile the Muslims are powering ahead in the reproductive stakes.

Possibly most of us will not live to see Muslims in a majority in this country, but it's going to happen, here and through Europe. We won't be the first to go.

Britistan is an inevitability, and if the Muslims want to educate their coming generations we might as well let them get on with it.

In response to Cramner, I don't recall suggesting that a pseudo-religious alternative world view should be substituted for religious education in schools.

Simply reading a book and sympathising with some of it's ideas does not make me an advocate of everything that the author believes.

In my view, schools should not present anything which is purely 'belief' as fact.

It may well be that faith schools produce above-average academic results but that could well change if they were obliged to accept less 'submissive' pupils.

Note that I do not 'spout' these views or 'promote an agenda' - I simply present them as my honest opinion.

Les, the word 'spout' clearly referred to Dawkins; he was the subject of the sentence, and the verb therefore applies to him.

You stated that you 'agree' with his view that 'religious indoctrination' is 'child abuse'. I know Professor Dawkins well (really), and have read his books on this matter over the past decade, and his scientific assertions are as much a leap into the world of faith as any religious faith assertion. He is simply unable or too stubborn to see it. You do not state that you 'have sympathy' with his views; you stated that you agree with them. If you do not agree that schools should teach 'belief' as fact, then you are proposing to remove certain aspects of theoretical science like evolution (for example), which remains 'the theory of evolution' yet is frequently taught as fact, as is much physics surrounding the nature and/or purpose of the universe. Dawkins has an agenda to eliminate religion; it is (in his opinion) anti-Enlightenment. This is as much an educational pseudo-religious 'agenda' as any that may be taught in a faith school.

Dawkins always comes across to me as a supercilious arrogant smartarse, supremely convinced of his own selfrighteousness.

In a previous age Dawkins would probably have been a luminary either of the Calvinist Church or the Inquisition.

There have been atheists who were certainly ideological Conservatives. Hume is a prime example, although Burke and Johnson made some very caustic comments in that specific regard.

However, generally speaking atheism and leftism go hand in hand. I think Dawkins and I would actually agree on that.

In my view, schools should not present anything which is purely 'belief' as fact.

Trouble is that too many schools instead teach FACT as BELIEF and are not rigorous enough in Physics teaching or Maths.........in fact we get political opinions substituted for fact.

Dawkins is just another who spins his story to create another Belief System and publishes his views to attract adherents - it is a pseudo-religious structure he creates and his acolytes spout "the good book" from The Wise One as if it was some eternal and great insight...............the Zoologist as Fashioner of Men's Minds.


Les is so wrapped up in this book as his path, way and light, that he ignores the central feature of this thread.

Muslims adhere to Islam, it has one book The Koran which is immutable and eternal. They do not care about Dawkins, they do not care about your self-doubt, your agnosticism, your atheism, your belief in fairies, hobgoblins, or witches....................they do not even care about your society...........

The issue is as Charles Moore put it in the DT today is what to do about 115 Muslim Schools in the private sector which teach children values completely incompatible with the functioning of this society.

All that we get in response - as on today's Any Answers - is the loony brigade of Anti-Christians who think Christianity is the only problem and if it were abolished we could all live happily as devout Muslims.

Well Les, that may well be your future..............will you be going to Traflagar Square to celebrate Eid......?

http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor/eid/index.jsp

Event: Eid in Trafalgar Square
Date: Saturday 28 October 2006
Time: 1pm – 5pm
Entry: FREE – all welcome

The first ever celebration in Trafalgar Square to mark the Muslim festival of Eid ul-fitr will take place on Saturday 28 October from 1pm to 5pm. Eid ul-fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting observed by millions of Muslims across the world, including London. The phrase literally means 'breaking of fast', with celebrations taking place that bring communities, families and friends together.

I never thought I would be so in agreement with Stuart! Dawkins IS a supercilious, arrogant smartarse. He pens his drivel not only on all forms of religion, but all forms of metaphysical philosophies as well. One of his favourite whipping boys is the ancient art of astrology, as opposed to astronomy. Been going for over 5 thousand years, as popular as ever, still he rants on.He would have had a ball dealing with the witches of Salem, so Stuart is right there as well. Talking metaphysically now, I reckon Dawkins is "projecting" the part of himself that he cannot stand, and there must be plenty, onto anything and anybody that triggers these hidden bits. I mean, what brought him to be an atheist in the first place? Thats the area to look at first.


There are certainly atheists and agnostics who are Conservatives, but, in my experience, most of them have some respect for the religious beliefs which they don't share.

The real haters of religion are almost invariably found on the hard left of the political spectrum.


Actually, it would be easy to imagine Richard Dawkins converting to some fundamentalist and highly dogmatic religious sect.

Plymouth Brethren, Sean?????

Cramner

I am sure you would not intentionally 'put words into my mouth' in support of your views but I really can't understand your concept that I would oppose the teaching of scientific theory such as evolution.

I did not say, as you suggest, that belief ahould not be taught but that belief, which includes scientific theory, should not be presented as fact.

I also said that I agreed with one of Prof' Dawkins' views - not all of them.

I do not have the benefit of personal acquaintance with Mr Dawkins but descriptions of him as stubborn, arrogant, smartarse, etc, seem to me like attacking the messenger rather than the ideas.

I find the use of language in political debate quite interesting - For example, David Cameron 'calls for', Tony Blair 'claims', Richard Dawkins 'spouts' and George Galloway 'rants' are all descriptions of said gentlemen doing the same thing but from an increasingly negative point of view.

As for quotas in schools, I would have thought that admission policy should be a matter for the local managmeent, the teaching professionals, rather than politicians fishing for votes through attempts at social engineering.



If we had this discussion last week, it would have been a Ramadan-a-ding-dong

but that belief, which includes scientific theory, should not be presented as fact.

Since very few school pupils can handle the Maths involved in Quantum Mechanics, Relativity theory, or even Sub-atomic Theory you are suggesting that they not be taught any of this ?

Most pupils must accept and believe in Scientific Facts that they themselves are in no position to prove...........very few of them ever do the Michelson-Morley Experiment yet all of them should know the Speed of Light and take it on faith that it is so.

I give up - I did not suggest that anything should not be taught - Simply that unsupported belief should not be presented as fact.

A very simple concept, it seems to me

As someone who was brought up in a religious household, went to Roman Catholic schools, became an atheist I do not hate religion, (my wife has retained her faith) I am bemused by it. The concept of eternal life, is so absurd, I can't believe that anyone can take it seriously. As for Richard Dawkins being a 'smartarse' I suppose as a Professor of Biology, that's a pretty good description.

As the child of a Jewish father and a Catholic mother I applaud your commonsense posting at 10.39 Annabel! Tolerance is the order of the day I think.
My first school was a Catholic Convent which I attended up to the age of 11. Thereafter I went to a girls school near where we lived which was run by Christian Scientists! Probably not surprising then that I have ended up Jewish...!
I am sorry if that was a flippant comment - it was meant to be light-hearted but I do make a serious point that I think the more children learn about each other's faiths and the less they are told that THEIR faith is the ONLY one - the better!

As for Richard Dawkins being a 'smartarse' I suppose as a Professor of Biology, that's a pretty good description.

Curious conclusion. As a professor of theology, I am more than aware that Professor Dawkins would view me more as a deluded bigot than an enlightened smartarse.

and the less they are told that THEIR faith is the ONLY one - the better!

but that Sally is nothing more than your opinion and you will find that many do not share it and will insist that their children are brought up in their religion as the one true religion

But of course, Tom Tom! Just as everything you say is YOUR opinion - which you have every right to express.

The statement that atheism and left-leaning politics go together is pretty arrogant.

I consider myself a right-wing Tory, and after decades of thought and much reading about the history of different faiths, an agnostic. Most humans have metaphysical needs - many find it satisfaction in the ready-made nostrums of religions, others in different ways. Those who have such needs but because of lack of education don't recognise them turn into louts and yobs.

The thing is that as an agnostic, I don't feel the need to harass others to share my methods of spiritual satisfaction, nor to kill them, nor to educate my children in seperate environments, nor to demand special treatment when it suits me, whilst demanding to be treated the same as the rest of the population on other occasions.

Your religious views are, or should be, private, and if you want to educate your children in your religion, you are at liberty to do so, after secular school. If your faith is strong, it will survive. I just don't see why I should finance the process.

Interesting, sjm and that of course is the approach the French take to education. They do however teach philosophy in school and indeed children have to pass exams in the subject I believe. That probably covers the spiritual dimension but in a broader context.

But of course, Tom Tom! Just as everything you say is YOUR opinion - which you have every right to express.

Obviously so Sally, but you miss the essential point.

Some Muslims will insist their children are raised in a Muslim environment, educated as Muslims, taught to read and recite the Koran...............at school.

We come back to Square One in these discussions - there are 115 private Muslim Schools in England which the Govt wants to bring into the State system so it can exercise some control..........these schools may well stay private and be funded by Saudi Arabia as with The King Fahd School in Bonn.

The issue is simply Muslims - no other religious group. Not Jews, Baptists, Catholics, Presbyterians or Mormons..............it is Muslims. If they refuse to accept what you propose you are stuck at Square One.

If you ban Christianity and murder every Jew and Christian in the country and cremate their children, you are still left with Muslims who in many cases want separate but equal development.

If you could focus on Islam and not get distracted in the red-herring of C of E and Catholic Schools we could focus on Muslim schooling with the proviso that those who have been involved in Muslim terrorism from the United Kingdom either wnt to English Public School or to State Comprehensives

Point taken, Tom Tom! So how do you propose to deal with the dilemma - you cannot lay yourself open to the charge that you are targeting one faith to the exclusion of others.

"The statement that atheism and left-leaning politics go together is pretty arrogant."

What is perhaps more accurate is that a hatred of religion and left-leaning politics tend to go together.

Those who call for the abolition of state faith schools have two options. they can either confiscate church property (profoundly unconservative) or privatise all state faith schools (which would wipe out a considerable number of "free" primary schools).

As for those who say "I don't see why my money should fund religious schools", my reply is "why should my money fund secular schools?"

nteresting, sjm and that of course is the approach the French take to education. They do however teach philosophy in school and indeed children

And France has no problems with Muslim terrorism or violence ?

http://www.nysun.com/article/42376

CLICHY-SOUS-BOIS, France (Reuters) - Armed men set fire to two buses in a rundown Paris suburb on Friday, the first anniversary of the start of the worst riots in the French capital in nearly 40 years.
Click to learn more...

A police source said two hooded men boarded one bus in front of a train station in the Seine-Saint-Denis suburb in the early evening and ordered about 15 passengers and the driver to get off before setting it alight.

The second bus was attacked in a similar way by two armed men in another part of the suburb, a local official said.

At least five buses have been attacked in poor suburbs around the capital since Sunday and police have said violence could spiral out of control once again. Four thousand extra police were deployed around France on Friday evening.


If only we were more like France !

Granted their system is far from perfect (see above) and in raising the subject of the French education system I don't think I expressed any opinion either way as to its merits or de-merits but rather I was just throwing it into the "pot" to see what kind of mixture would form!

Point taken, Tom Tom! So how do you propose to deal with the dilemma - you cannot lay yourself open to the charge that you are targeting one faith to the exclusion of others.

Why not ?

I don't treat the White population for sickle-cell anaemia, nor do I have midwives attend to men in hospital. Why must I spray foam on every problem so noone sees what is going on ?

If Muslim Schools want funding from the taxpayer their Curriculum should be submitted for approval to the QCA and their Ofsted Inspections should be rigorous

The language of instruction must be English by qualified teachers, and the Board of Governors must have lay members of the general public just as Direct-Grant schools did.

I am told that private providers can supply gas, electricity, water subject to regulation - so why not schools ?

The targeting of a particular religious faith is a very different proposition. You cannot compare it to the inappropriate medical treatment which might or might not be afforded to one particular group in society. That is, with the greatest of respect a very obvious red herring!

Your final idea however about the idea of private providers supplying schools is a good one and deserves further consideration.

"If Muslim Schools want funding from the taxpayer their Curriculum should be submitted for approval to the QCA and their Ofsted Inspections should be rigorous

The language of instruction must be English by qualified teachers, and the Board of Governors must have lay members of the general public just as Direct-Grant schools did."

So why not apply these standards to ALL faith schools, not just Muslim ones! You would presumably be confident that Christian schools (for example) would pass with flying colours so you would not be fearful of such conditions being imposed on them?

I have to say the elephant in the room in this debate is the very existance of "faith" schools funded by the state.

As usual an "I know my rights" culture has developed here, with all faiths asking for the same as the Christian schools currently have.

We should fund no religeus teaching, we should fund parents with a voucher, for every child, redeemable at any school, irrespective of who runs it, or how much they charge, but they should be banned form teaching or instructing religeon.

I agree with all of that bar the last, John.

If parents, armed with a voucher, wish to use it to send their children to a religious school, then I can see no reason why they should be prevented from doing so.

"What is perhaps more accurate is that a hatred of religion and left-leaning politics tend to go together."

Indeed. I would say that a hatred of religion (as opposed to lack of religious belief) is incompatible with Conservatism.

If we implement this policy, we will lose middle britain. Only a fool would implement this plan.

"We should fund no religeus teaching, we should fund parents with a voucher, for every child, redeemable at any school, irrespective of who runs it, or how much they charge, but they should be banned form teaching or instructing religeon."

Why should secular teaching be permitted when religious teaching isn't? Why should those who pay their taxes not be allowed a say in the sort of school they send their children to?

Do you really think privatising vast swathes of the state education sector would go down well with the electorate?

"If we implement this policy, we will lose middle britain. Only a fool would implement this plan."

Very good point. Faith schools are very popular with parents and tend to have very good results. The ethos they promote is also part of their appeal.

I went to a C of E first school and middle school and although we was taught about Christianity, we were never taught to hate other faiths (or, for that matter, other Christian denominations). The idea that we should either shun or try to convert others just didn't occur.

* we were!

Education should be about facts, science, teaching logic etc - not superstition. By all means study religion, as it's a major factor in human civilisation. However, teaching unproven mythology as fact is just ludicrous.

Perhaps the state should remove children from Christian homes as well Andrew and raise them in Gradgrindian orphanages where only facts are imparted?

Oh come on Tim, we're talking about schools not homes. I've already said in my post that religion is a private matter, and I expect Andrew feels the same. If you have the right to 'believe' - and I think you do - atheists and agnostics have the right to comment on those beliefs when they are publicly brandished.

So, Andrew, does that mean you would not allow the study of music, art, drama and other creative subjects which don't deal purely with "fact" as you put it? The Editor is right - we are surely entering the world of Gradgrind here.....

already said in my post that religion is a private matter

The problem with this assertion is that major world religions, with considerable political clout, believe it to be a very public matter. The tension between the private/devotional and public/political is most evident in Islam and Roman Catholicism. According to Lord Baker, the Catholic Church has 'lied' ((http://education.independent.co.uk/news/article1935921.ece) yet has attained its political objective. Doubtless Ruth Kelly, Cherie Blair, John Reid and other powerful Catholics were prominent players in Johnson's U-turn. There is no point asserting an opinion that 'religion is private' when the reality is quite to the contrary. The coming of the Kingdom may fulfilled through the Church, or through some eschatological hope. The divergence is theological, and two-dimensional political posturing will never offer a solution. Herein lies a very good reason why Parliament needs a few more thinkers - like theologians or philosophers - instead of the superficial genetic engineering going on to achieve black, asian, female and gay augmentation.

Your Grace,

I imagine the (Roman Catholic) Church would say that its sacraments offer precisely that "eschatological hope" of which you speak. This is, of course, not the Reformed position. Perhaps you could enlighten us as to your doctrine on the last things?

You are, of course, quite correct in your assertion that religion cannot be a "private matter".

"All parents communicate values to their children, Les. Dawkins' talk of child abuse is sensationalist."
But it is still Child Abuse. There is absolutely no evidence of a God.
Religious Schools do better then state schools because they are selective.
One disruptive child in any school can cause havoc to the whole year group. State schools have to live with that. Generally speaking it is the disruptive kids who determine the academic value of any school.

Religion should be in all faiths for home / church, not schools. Outside Islam, people are turning away for official religions - the vast majority of people no longer go regularly to church. So I fully understand the Catholic Church's need to maintain a captive audience of children to influence. Childrens rights have never been something most religions want to defend - history has shown the opposite to be true. Any other organisation with such a history of hiding those commiting child abuse would have long been shut down.

The 25% quota is probably already reached in many church schools by those parents who just pretend to be of one faith to get their children places. Let us free these parents from lying in order to get their kids into their local state school. Parents should be allowed to choose their state funded school of choice, and not have to go to a priest for a reference.

OK, I should have written 'religion SHOULD be a private matter', and just maybe the world might have been a tad less vicious than it has been, had that been the case.

Attempting to squirm out of the violence, inconsistencies and illogicalities of, say, the Old Testament and the Q'ran is akin to the Trekkies who try to make a consistent narrative out of TV episodes and films by different writers.

You want to believe Kirk and Spock had an affair? Go ahead, just don't build a religion on it that will try to kill all the Trekkies who fervently believe the Captain and his First Officer were resolute heteros. Who will of course insist that they are being persecuted, and - well, you can fill in all the details.

If believing in an omnipotent Father figure floats your boat and makes you feel secure, that's your business. Making it the world's business gives us insoluble problems like the Middle East, Darfur etc. And yes, before Cranmer points it out, I know wars are caused by things other than religion - communism, fascism, insanity, greed etc. But we don't suggest having State-funded communist and fascist schools, do we?

You would presumably be confident that Christian schools (for example) would pass with flying colours so you would not be fearful of such conditions being imposed on them?

I have no idea what a Christian School,is Sally. To use Lord Baker's example, I know of no school which asks prospective pupils if they have read The Bible from cover to cover, or if they can recite Nicene Creed and the XXXIX Articles................that would be an analogy for a C of E School with a Muslim one.

The only "faith" schools are Sikh, Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish - there are no Anglican Faith Schools.

Anglican schools tend to admit anyone in actual fact, and if you lived in areas of Pakistani concentration Sally you would wonder why so many "Anglicans" spoke Urdu in the playground...........

Frankly, I believe that there should be NO State Schools and all should be private with student loans post-16 rather than post-18. There should be lots of schools - better as faith schools than sponsored by the BBC as is proposed in Manchester..............or maybe the British Army should sponsor Military Academies..............or MI^ could sponsor them.

There is nothing so fatuous as trying to brand junk State schools as Church of England like the dump Immanuel College

http://www.immanuelce.ngfl.ac.uk/home/admissions.htm

Places at Immanuel
Parents and guardians can apply for either a church place or a community place at Immanuel C.E. Community school. A full copy of our Admissions Policy is included in this prospectus.

Church Places
Children are eligible to apply for a church place if they have a church link. This can be either a family involvement with a church or attendance at a church primary school. Pupils of the following schools are able to apply for church places: Calverley CE, Heaton St Barnabas CE, Idle CE, Shipley CE, St Augustines CE, St Lukes CE, Windill CE, Wycliffe CE,St Antonys RC, and other church primary schools in the Calverley or Airedale deaneries. Pupils with church links should also apply for a church place. Church places should be indicated on the common application form that will be in the Education Bradford booklet sent to you via your child’s Primary school.

Community Places
Parents who wish to apply for a community place for their daughter or son should be aware that priority will be given to those families who make Immanuel C.E. Community school their first preference. Applications for Community places at Immanuel C.E. Community school should be made on the common application form that will be in the Education Bradford booklet sent to you via your child’s Primary school.

Wikipedia

The school did have a bad reputation for violence and low achieving pupils. Many accusations were made by the local newspaper about the school being bad and unsafe.[citation needed] The school entered special measures in March 2004. As of 6th July 2006, the school is no longer subject to special measures.

Let;s take the other C of E Secondary School which also lived in Special Measures before going bust

Bradford Cathedral Community College is due to shut in 2007 to be replaced by the £20m Bradford Academy which will be funded directly by the Government and sponsored by Anglican charity Toc H.
The Department for Education and Skills yesterday confirmed the new academy would start with a clean slate and that Bradford Council would be left responsible for the old school's debts.
Figures released by the council this week showed the college was one of four schools more than £500,000 in debt, and altogether Bradford schools in the red owe £7.1m.

The school has had a troubled history, going through several name and leadership changes, and is now in special measures although the past three years has seen a massive improvement in its exam results.
Headteacher David Brett said the school's management had inherited the debt, built up during its unsettled past.

Bradford Academy is due to be a newly built school with start-up costs met entirely by Toc H and the Government. Some assets from the closing school may help the council offset some of the debt.
Bradford Cathedral Community College became a voluntary aided school in 2000 and the Church of England has supported the idea of its being replaced. Clive Sedgwick, diocesan director of education, said the academy would enjoy a fresh start without the old school's debts or its special measures tag.

Yorkshire Post 12 November 2004


Now we can look at Feversham College, a VA Muslim Girls School

Admissions Policy

The College will cater mainly for children of parents who are practising members of the Islamic Faith. However, it is intended that the governors of the voluntary aided school will make an arrangement with the local Education Authority under Section 413 of the Education Act 1996 to admit a maximum of 10% non-Muslims Students if the college is under-subscribed.

Admission to the College will be in accordance with the following criteria in priority order in the event of over-subscription:


f there are still some places unfilled the College may take up a maximum of 10% Non-Muslims girls. Those girls living closest to the College (Cliffe Road site) will be offered a place as measured by the nearest available walking route.

The definition of a Muslim for admission to the College is a girl who honours in her words and actions the SHAHADA and remembers always that there is nothing or no one worthy of worshipping other than ALLAH (SWT), and MUHAMMAD (PBUH) is the final prophet of ALLAH.

http://www.fevershamcollege.com/Governors.htm

Uniform

A simple and modest form of dress is required in accordance with Islamic concept of Hijaab. The College uniform is COMPULSORY.

Students may wear watches but no other jewellery including nose rings or studs should be worn. Students are not allowed to wear any make-up.

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION AND COLLECTIVE WORSHIP

Feversham College, as a school founded on Islamic principles, aims to provide the students with a learning environment which nurtures and strengthens their Faith (IMAAN) to build a firm foundation for future development and involvement as active members of the Islamic Sunni faith and of society as a whole, according to the Quran and Sunnah.

Each College day will start with form time or assembly. They will have activities which focus on aspects of Islam and moral issues. They will also be used to promote and celebrate achievement. All Muslim students must participate in Zohar Salaah, (collective worship) which will take place everyday.

Collective worship makes an important contribution to the spiritual, moral and cultural development of students. Both RE and Collective Worship prepare students for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life in a multi-faith society.

The main focus of R.E lessons will be learning about the Islamic faith according to Quran and Sunnah. In addition the College will use the Bradford agreed syllabus for R.E as a framework for studying other faiths.

I'm sure Richard Dawkins feels totally humbled by the level of argument used against him today, which after reading from top to bottom, boils down to "science is as faith based as religion" and "if you don't like religion, you must be a socialist".

It's interesting to read the former argument on a Tory website. It is just another example of the relativism which we usually associate with the left. Indeed I can remember entry level sociology textbooks on Glasgow University's reading list which used to promote such waffle, saying that since witchcraft is as internally coherent as the scientific method, it was in some sense as valid. That scientific hypotheses are reliant on sometimes unverifiable assumptions does not make them as epistemically void as religious hypotheses; the scientific bit entails a distribution of empirical outcomes which can then be assessed vis a vis any number of competing hypotheses in order to determine which has the greatest evidential support. This is not a facility open to any religious statement of belief and is enough, if you are (like me) the sort who will prioritise evidential support over transcendental joy, to entail greater worth in the theories developed by scientists than in those produced in theology school, without in the slightest denigrating the intellectual effort in the latter.

However, one does not have to be an objective critical realist in order to prefer the views developed from application of the western scientific method over those which popped into your head last Thursday (for example): one can adopt a purely subjectivist view of the universe and the laws which govern it, which still entails greater epistemic weight to (for example) Darwinian evolution as a theory to explain life over the nonsense of (for example) fundamentalism or astrology.

Incidentally I remember Iris Murdoch was very good at explaining why a "personal" God was a contradiction in terms. I think she must have been right. I think this "personal" malarkey is just another example of a society in breakdown.

TomTom is sometimes a little stronger in his choice of words than I would choose but I think on this important topic he's got it just about perfect: all we require is that any faith school is to be inspected to the same level of rigour and against the same criteria as any other taxpayer funded school would be.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-2426788,00.html

BBC to sponsor city academy
Geraldine Hackett, Education Correspondent
THE BBC has agreed to sponsor one of Tony Blair’s city academies as its negotiations for an inflation-beating rise in the television licence fee reach a critical point.

The corporation is to join forces with ITV to provide instruction in media skills to an academy that will replace one of Manchester’s crumbling secondary schools. The decision to back one of Blair’s favourite projects when both companies need help from the government is likely to provoke criticism..............he television companies will not be funding the new academy. The £2m sponsorship will come from Manchester city council, which is planning to rebuild many of its Victorian secondary schools.

Council officials have estimated that the government will fund £125m of the £152.5m required for six new schools if they are designated academies.


Since these Academies are linked to the Police corruption probe in that sponsors seem not to have coughed up the money pledged but have received Knighthoods and Peerages promised, it is clear why Estelle Morris and Andrew Adonis are of interest to Scotland Yard.

The real scandal in schools is not religion but PFI which will denude them of funds for fake front sponsorship while the real money is being made elsewhere. Indeed now Allianz SE has just bought Laing, this German insurance giant now owns many hospitals and schools in Britain . - no doubt it will buy into LIFT to own GP surgeries next and build a private HMO system

The only "faith" schools are Sikh, Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish - there are no Anglican Faith Schools.
As I understand it The Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster has set up some schools because of it's dismay at the decline in Christian teaching in schools, many of the Scottish Presbyterian denominations have been considering doing the same, and in the 19th and early 20th century The Free Church of Scotland and United Free Church of Scotland both setup their own schools as a means of training children for the ministry as there was a shortage of full time clergy in many denominations that had broken away from the Church of Scotland leaving them heavily reliant on laity and struggling to meet their responsibilities as Presbyterian denominations.

As a practicing Jew I believe that in general ANY religious education is better than secular education.

However, like everybody these days I'm worried about some of the malpractice alleged to go on in Muslim faith schools. ALL schools, faith and non-faith should be subject to monitoring on that score.

But otherwise we should all be profoundly grateful for the contributions of the world's religions. I agree with much of what has been said about Dawkins and other atheists of his type. They have a totally negative attitude to life itself, it seems to me.

Mike Segal @ 11.39 - on what statistical evidence do you base your assertion that atheists have a totally negative attitude to life?

I love life, my family, my friends. I have a strong feeling for the community, and have done voluntary work for it on an official and unofficial basis all my adult life. My children have been inculcated with the same views.

But I am an agnostic (most of the time) and an atheist (some of the time), based on a lengthy and on-going consideration of faith in most of its guises.

Religions, as opposed to faith, in my opinion play upon fear and superstition. If that suits you, I'll say again, that is your personal business. It does not give you or anyone else the right to tell others what to believe, nor to demand my money to support those beliefs.

Religions, as opposed to faith, in my opinion play upon fear and superstition.

Don't understand that........."Faith" is used as a term for "religion".

Actually I thought it was Politics which prayed upon fear and superstition - after all why do we need so many parties when governments can only pursue one policy ?

"I agree with much of what has been said about Dawkins and other atheists of his type. They have a totally negative attitude to life itself, it seems to me."

And that is a negative attitude to this debate!

We can now look back at the solar system from it's very edge. Where in this blackness is there a God? If there were a God who created it and in what form is it?

The fact is that we are alone, chilling as it may be.

Kenneth Baker, a plonker when in office and obviously hasn't changed since. why does the Party Keep the likes of him and Steve Norris ( another failed politician) on board.

TomTom - religions are the organisations that use faith (man's susceptibility to the supernatural or the numinous, take your pick) to control vast swathes of humanity in order to satisfy their founders' desire for power or their particular neuroses. Well, that's my interpretation.

TomTom - religions are the organisations that use faith (man's susceptibility to the supernatural or the numinous, take your pick) to control vast swathes of humanity

Funny that.........I don't see many Anglicans being "controlled" by the A of C, he even has problems with Anglican priests.

Nor do I see where the "control" is in Sunni Islam - it doesn't even have a priesthood

Nor do I see much "control" in Judaism which since the destruction of The Temple in AD70 has not had a central authority

I wonder what you refer too............it strikes me that Francis Maude has much more control of the Conservative Party and its members than Rowan Williams has over Anglicans

Your report on the Government's cock up over faith schools is spot on. Except that you underestimate the role of Nick Gibb MP - who, acting contrary to his personal instincts and views, reacted quickly to get the Tory position right and put the Govt in the dock.

Gibb, under instruction from the other chief spokespeople, John Hayes MP and Lady Morris, was spotted in a Commons restaurant rewriting the Alton Lords amendment to make it irresistible.

Point taken. With Willetts’ two deputies Gibb and Hayes united, the Party turned a potential embarrassment into a victory.

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