Stories + Views
Don’t divide the children – the message from Synod about faith schools
“You can only love your neighbour if you know your neighbour in person”, Rabbi Dr Romain, told Synod at the start of a debate about the dangers of religiously separated education.
Church schools, said Rev Ruth Scott, should revive their “historic mission of providing education for all children”. Jonathan Bartley, co-director of the thinktank Ekklesia, said church schools should remember that a ‘Christian ethos’ is about educating all children especially the vulnerable and the excluded in society. Being a church school was not about discriminating in admissions.
Unfortunately many faith schools forget this. A religious free school is supposed to allocate 50% of its places using non-faith criteria if it is oversubscribed. But a heavy emphasis on completing supplementary forms giving details about attendance which have to be ratified by a religious leader sends out a strong message – those who are not of the faith are second best and we’d rather not have you. Faith free schools are not, of course, the only schools using such admission criteria – Voluntary Aided faith schools are their own admission authorities and do not even have to subscribe to the 50% rule. Some even discriminate between looked-after children – these vulnerable children who are not of the faith are lower priority.
Any Christian school which has admission codes like this has forgotten the teachings of their leader.