Education, Religion and the State.

It emerged this week that religious schools of all faiths, but largely Islamic and Christian schools are to not be inspected by OfSTED but by a new pan religious body. This is an improvement from the single faith inspection bodies we have at the moment, however this move is just not good enough. After much contemplation on this issue I think I have concluded that faith should be removed from our educational institutions.

Many schools function exceptionally well within a religious ethos, and religious schools have been praised for instilling in children a more rigours moral code. Labour has certainly lauded the benefits of religious education with many of its new academies being sponsored by the CofE and catholic churches. We are also seeing an increase in Islamic and Hindu schools. This to me is increasing segregation in our society.

I do not think it the place of the state to fund the promotion of one specific ideology, Christians are free to get educated about their faith on Sundays, and Muslims on Fridays. The increase ion faith schools not only increases religious segregation, but racial and social. Many of our Christian primary schools largely admit middle class, pseudo religious families. Regarding Islamic schools, with no proper inspection from OfSTED we can not be sure that the school isn’t teaching Islamic separatism, Islamic schools have already been criticised for not teaching effectively about other religions, and in some cases being anti Semitic.

We need our state schools to be melting pots, to give children a realistic understanding of modern Britain, this means studying with peoples of different religions, colours and class. Labour has presided over a renaissance in religious schools and we will suffer the segregated consequences. It is about time we managed to get some distinction between state and God in this country at least in our schools if not in out Head of State. Religion should be taught in school, its expression allowed, but in a neutral academic environment. This university was the first secular University in the country, which was a bold and radical step, it is time we followed the example Joseph Chamberlain set.

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