Monday, September 10, 2007

British Humanist Association: Government’s Faith in the System ‘a disgrace’.

reposted from:brights

September 10th, 2007

The British government today released a “joint statement” (PDF) with a number of religious groups, essentially touting the view that “faith schools” are a social good and heralding yet further expansion of their presence in state-funded schooling.

This is despite a two-thirds public majority who think that no religiously-affiliated schools should receive any state funding (BBC), and despite last year’s DfES-commissioned report — “Faith Primary Schools: Better Schools or Better Pupils?” (LSE) — which concluded that there was “clear positive selection of pupils into faith schools on the basis of observable characteristics that are favourable to education”. These “observable characteristics” account for the results disparity which the government still continues to use as an excuse for furthering the faith school agenda, even though their own DfES-commissioned report shows that these successes are down to nothing but social selection, so effectively the better results of faith schools are just a measure of how much the local population is skewed in its favour by covert selection and so-called “pushy” parents.

The British Humanist Association condemned today’s report as a “disgrace” (press release).

The British Humanist Association has condemned the Governments ‘joint statement’ with religious groups released today, joining teacher representatives and some religious groups such as the Hindu Council UK in objecting to increased support for ‘faith’ schools.

Andrew Copson, BHA Education officer said, ‘To expand state-funded faith schools is to increase discrimination in school admissions against pupils and their parents and to increase employment discrimination against teachers. It means more pupils will be segregated by religion and ethnicity and denied the right to a fully balanced education or to school with children from different backgrounds and learn with and from them.’

‘Again and again opinion polls have shown clear majorities opposed to faith schools and their expansion but the Government is dismissing these serious and widespread concerns as mere ‘misunderstandings’. The Government has behaved disgracefully, both in its general policies and in the way it has conducted itself in this present announcement, stitching up a statement with religious vested interests behind closed doors.’

The BHA also urge anyone who objects to state-funded “faith” schools to do something about it. Via supporter email:

It is vitally important that we let the Government know how misguided this statement is, and how divisive an increase in the number of state-funded faith schools will be. We are urging all members to write to their MPs to make them aware of their thoughts and positions on this document, and to ask what action their MP intends to take on this issue.

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