Tuesday, 2 September 2008

In defence of Christian faith schools

Why do so many ordinary people try so hard to get their kids into faith schools? Well, many enjoy good exam results but many don't. Few are populated by the children of a devout community of churchgoers. They follow the national curriculum and are obliged to approach issues of race, faith or sexuality in the same balanced and non-judgemental way as non faith schools. Even their enemies can't find much evidence of 'religious indoctrination'. One parent's view that "The actual education is not really any different. They have the same hours per day in which to teach Maths, English, Science, History. Geography etc, to KS3, GCSE, AS and A level the same as any secular school. Like I've said, one notable difference is discipline, manners, respect. Now if that isn't apparent in the local schools, then why knock the faith school? Surely we need more?", and that I think gets to the nub of their popularity.

At the heart of Christian theology is personal moral responsibility, a clear moral distinction between right and wrong, a strong sense of social obligation, a belief in the authority of the family and of intermediate institutions, a healthy scepticism about the size and limits of the role of the State and the virtues of other than material rewards. All things that every good Conservative should hold dear.

That black rogue Rousseau would have separated children from their fathers lest the authority of the family challenge that of the State; socialists, as Rousseau did, want no intermediate or countervailing authority between the State and the individual. Faith schools achieve exactly the opposite.

Typically, Polly Toynbee screeches against faith schools in CiF today. Her naked hatred of them confirms me ever more firmly in my belief that it is right to support them. She still really doesn't get it; she writes "Years of Labour handwringing over community cohesion hardly squares with dividing children by religion". Polly dear, communities are no longer cohesive precisely because the State has eroded local authority and institutions; it's the churches, the community groups, the parish councils, the families and local individuals with moral stature - the 'little platoons' - that create cohesive communities and it's the Leviathan of the hateful central State that destroys them. Faith schools don't divide children - they unite them. Long may they flourish.


Bill Quango MP said...

I can only say my child goes to the local faith, which I wasn't keen on, but it is the local primary school.
Well, its bloody brilliant, and thats from a confirmed atheist.
The flaw in the Toynbee argument is the usual socialist one.

Faith schools are popular and perform well above average in league tables. They are not "equal opportunity" for all.
Therefore they reek of privilege and MUST be brought down.
Better everyone is taught badly than some are taught well.

Where did polly's children go to school?

"Anyone who ever reads an article written by Polly Toynbee about equality in education would do well to remember what school she chose for her family. No, it wasn't a sink comprehensive in a disadvantaged area, it wasn't a magnet comprehensive in a leafy suburb, it wasn't even an average comp in a mixed area with free school meals at 20%. Not for her: she chose the independent sector with free school meals at 0%. How can anyone like her seek to restrict the choice in state education of ordinary people who haven't the resources to choose private schools be taken seriously?"

Good question. Isn't it time Polly answered it?
"Dave Hills big britain blog"

Newmania said...

Oh yes Bill I think "...and where will you be sending your children to school then ? " should always be asked.
I have undergone something of a modest spiritual journey from atheism to a sort of dis-satisfaction with the purely material which approaches faith. I go to church in the expectation that nothing will become clearer which no longer troubles me . This took twenty years or so

Personally I am unconvinced that the advantages of faith schools come from their faith so much as the effort required to gain a place.I also read the article and react to Polly in much the same way.