Time to get rid of faith schools

July 22, 2015 at 9:29 am (anti-fascism, conspiracy theories, David Cameron, Education, islamism, posted by JD, religion, secularism)

Why can’t most of the left be as clear-cut and straightforward on the scandal of state-sponsored sectarian schools as the NSS?

Prime Minister ‘blinkered to ignore role faith schools play in segregating communities’

Statement from the National Secular Society

Prime Minister 'blinkered to ignore role faith schools play in segregating communities'

Despite criticising “segregated” education, Prime Minister David Cameron has defended the continuation of faith schools in a speech on counter extremism.

In a wide-ranging speech, delivered in Birmingham, Mr Cameron set out his thinking on how to confront extremism and Islamist ideology and rejected what he called the “grievance justification” for Islamist violence.

He talked about Britain as a “multi-racial, multi-faith democracy” and as a “beacon to the world”. He said no-one should be demonised but said there was a need to “confront, head on, the extreme ideology” behind Islamism.

He said that Britain needed to be bolder in asserting “liberal values”, which he called “our strongest weapon”.

The Prime Minister issued a strong challenge to “the cultish worldview” of extremists and the “conspiracy theories” that support it, and he said the UK should contrast the “bigotry, aggression and theocracy” of the Islamists with our own values.”

Mr Cameron indicated that funding would be made available for groups willing to lead reform and spread an “alternative narrative”. He also committed to do more to tackle extremism in prisons.

Turning his attention to the newly introduced “Prevent duty” for public sector bodies, Cameron said that it is “not about criminalising or spying on Muslim children” and accused some of its opponents of “paranoia in the extreme.”

However, despite warning that “the education that our young people receive” in schools in “divided communities” is “even more segregated than the neighbourhoods they live in”, David Cameron said the UK should not “dismantle faith schools.”

Instead, he said “it is right to look again more broadly at how we can move away from segregated schooling in our most divided communities.” The Prime Minister suggested that faith schools could share sites or facilities.

“It cannot be right that children can grow up and go to school and not come into contact with people of other backgrounds [and] faiths,” he said.

Research by Demos recently found that “some faith schools effectively exclude other ethnic groups” and that minority faith schools were particularly segregated.

NSS campaigns manager Stephen Evans said, “Much of this speech is very welcome – and echoes what secularists have been saying for a long time. But it is blinkered to ignore the role that faith schools play in creating the segregated communities that Mr Cameron rightly criticises. The potential of faith schools to exacerbate the separation of communities is obvious for all to see.

“Children from different backgrounds need to mix with each other on a daily basis if we are to break down the barriers. They will never truly understand and trust each other if their schools are encouraging an us-and-them mentality. Tinkering round the edges with occasional visits and shared resources is not good enough – in fact it can be counterproductive, reinforcing the feeling of being from different worlds.”

The Prime Minister also said action was needed on unregulated religious ‘schools’, an issue previously raised by the NSS.

On hate preachers and Islamist speakers invited onto university campuses, the Prime Minister said: “When David Irving goes to a university to deny the Holocaust university leaders rightly come out and condemn him. They don’t deny his right to speak but they do challenge what he says.”

In contrast, Cameron argued that university leaders “look the other way through a mixture of misguided liberalism and cultural sensitivity” when Islamist speakers attend university events.

He also issued a strong rebuke to the National Union of Students.

“When you choose to ally yourselves with an organisation like CAGE, which called Jihadi John a ‘beautiful young man’ and told people to ‘support the jihad’ in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said, it brings “shame” to your organisation and “your noble history of campaigning for justice.”

The Prime Minister cited the review of sharia ‘courts’ among measured to crackdown on non-violent extremism, and promised a consultation on lifetime anonymity for victims of forced marriage, in a proposal welcomed by the National Secular Society.

He spent much of the speech dealing with non-violent extremism, and argued that “if you say ‘yes I condemn terror – but the Kuffar are inferior’… then you too are part of the problem.”

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “This all sounds very familiar, and we are glad that the Prime Minister is catching up with the NSS’s thinking and suggestions. All he has to do now is carry out his plans, which may be more difficult than he thinks. There is a lot of resistance not just from the Islamists but from the liberals who imagine that taking a stand against the Islamist threat is equivalent to attacking all Muslims. It is not and for all our sakes we must not be put off tackling the bad guys for fear of offending the good ones.”

The Government will publish its counter-extremism strategy in the autumn.

12 Comments

  1. Steven Johnston said,

    I remember in the 80s a head teacher had to resign due liberals and the left attacking him for wanting to give mixed swimming lessons. Apparently that was racist. This was at a state school though, so even if you shut the faith schools down, this nonsense finds it way into secular schools too.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      Just because Islam is a violent extremist so called religion that should not effect others who have been getting on reasonably well for around 100 yrs.

  2. mark taha said,

    People do deny David Irving and others of his “ilk” the right to speak-and they shouldn’t. Everyone has the right to free speech,as Voltaire put it. Forced integration is no more acceptable than forced apartheid. However,I would make all public funding of faith and other schools conditional on their adopting a nonsectarian admissions policy of admitting whichever applicants lived nearest and none from more than five miles away.I would also phase out RE as a subject altogether.

    • Jim Denham said,

      In that case, why have faith schools at all?

      • Steven Johnston said,

        Agreed, a faith school with the teaching faith or faiths, would be like a Jaws film without the shark.
        To me that proposal sounds like playing for a draw or jumping the shark.

  3. ZINR said,

    “Forced integration is no more acceptable than forced apartheid”

    I disagree…mainly because no one has needed to “force” anyone else to integrate in Britain in the past. Integration’s just happened, mainly without violence and without the government or indigenous people having to make anything much by way of concessions.

    We can pretend that every immigrant group is equivalent in their attitudes and demands, just as we can pretend that every religious group suffers from the same problems of extremism and every holy book promotes the same violence and bigotry. Doesn’t really get us anywhere to pretend though, does it?

    As to faith schools – scrap the whole bloody lot of them, straight away. It does no one any good to start their life isolated from the majority of society, and that goes for Jews, Christians, Hindus, absolutely anyone. Scrap them.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      The vast majority of Brits do not worship any god and are not interested in religion. However most Brits are tolerant and religion is something you really never hear people talking about.
      You cannot just turn to generations of people and say the games up just because we disagree with you.

  4. Political tourist said,

    I worked in a CofE school.
    Half the pupils were Moslems.
    Don’t remember it being a big deal.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      Stoking the boliers and handing out smarties?

      • Political tourist said,

        What that supposed to mean?

    • Steven Johnston said,

      and…so what? What about a muslim school, do you think half the pupils there are jews or christians?

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        Pt is clearly a leftie and just like religious junkies lacks a sense of humour. We had a Jewish Jannie at school and be was so miserable he painted the smarties on his forehand.

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