Saturday, July 26, 2008

New research shows faith schools discourage integration

Jul 25, 2008 19:25:32 GMT

FROM eGOV monitor Via National Secular Society Newsline Newsletter CLICK HERE

New research shows that children who go to primary schools that have pupils from different ethnic and religious backgrounds find it easier to integrate and have higher self-esteem than those who go to schools where everyone comes from the same background. This new evidence reinforces the dangers posed by encouraging ever more single-faith schools.

The research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), confirms that the ethnic composition of primary schools has a direct impact on children’s attitudes towards those in other ethnic groups and on their ability to get on with their peers. Highlighting the challenges faced by immigrant children,

the study also showed that those attending schools characterised by higher ethnic diversity experienced fewer peer problems and less prejudice than those attending schools that are more homogeneous.

The research showed that having this integrationist attitude helped children both emotionally and socially: At the start of the study, the researchers found that minority children, particularly 1st generation immigrants, generally had lower self-esteem and were less well accepted by their peers than their white English classmates. But, when interviewed 6 and 12 months later, children with an integrationist orientation showed significant improvements in both these measures.

Professor Rupert Brown, who led the study, concluded:

“Our findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that the more contact children have with other ethnic groups, the more cross-group friendships they will have and the less prejudiced they will be”. This argues against policies leading to reductions in school diversity such as the promotion of single faith schools.

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