Newspaper article to evaluate and review the purpose of faith schools in multi-faith and multicultural Britain. Faith schools in Britain are schools that teach general national curriculums but using religious principles and aims within their teaching. The extremities of these principles vary between different faiths and different schools. The term “faith schools” was first used in 1990 when Muslim institutes demanded for more freedom within education.
There is approximately 7000 faith schools in Britain, almost a third of all state funded schools with around one and quarter million pupils but many ask if there is any need for such a large number of faith schools in a society that is becoming more secular. In 2006, 197 faith schools made up the 209 primary schools in the UK that achieved “perfect” results in that year’s league tables. All students reached the expected standard for 11 year olds in English, maths and science. The best school in the tables was North Cheshire Jewish primary school which offers “a traditional Jewish education”.
The most improved school was St Anne’s Roman Catholic primary school whose results tripled within three years. Some would say that faith schools create a “social sorting” of children according to class, ability, religion and academics. This could be backed up by the fact that faith schools achieve higher exam results on average in the UK. However, the pupils who attend the secondary faith schools who have been to high-achieving primary schools appear to be from more well-off families.
As well as this, according to a report for the Government, faith schools only achieve better results as they select the best pupils, not because of their religious ethos thus raising the question in whether if there is a need for faith schools. The Politics Show South has surveyed all the secondary schools in the region and found that 72% of pupils at the region’s faith schools got five good GCSE results, as against a national average of 53. 7% getting five good GCSE results. Four out of five faith schools in the South beat the national average.
A parent at the Islamia Primary School in Queen’s Park, North London, also sees cultural advantages for her children in faith schools. “I wanted them to have a sense of pride as a Muslim but also to be following the English curriculum so that they could hopefully continue on to university and mix with everyone else. “But at the same time they’d know about Islam from a Muslim and not a Christian point of view. ” As well as result statistics, faith schools are also keen on imposing discipline and teaching ethics to students.
Some say that “the force of their religion and faith and the ethos of how to become a good citizen will be there all the time. ” This means that students who study at these faith schools may have difficulty indulging in a crime or hating people or doing something which is not like their religious ethos. However a lot of people would agree that the rise of multi faith schools within the country would actually produce more secular societies as the rise in numbers and funding of one particular faith for schools could lead to unsettlement from other faiths.
Also, single faith schools can also leave children unequipped to deal with life in mainstream Britain as only select things are taught within single faith schools. Director of National Secular society said: “If they are moving from restricted communities into a single faith school, they have very little contact with those from the majority community. And then suddenly, when they are 16 they come out into the majority community for the first time and into the workplace. I’m worried about the implications of that.”