Welcome to Dorset Humanists

Dorset Humanists is a welcoming group for humanists, atheists and agnostics who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. We meet in Bournemouth for informative and enjoyable presentations, debates and discussions on a wide range of subjects including ethics, science, religion, philosophy, politics, our environment and much more. We also organise regular social events.

Faith Schools and Selection

Faith Schools Sign A new survey shows ‘overwhelming majority against religious selection in schools’.

Geoff Jones, a Dorset Humanists committee member with a long career in education, asks “Is this good news for Humanists?”:

“A new ComRes poll commissioned by the Accord Coalition indicates nearly three-quarters of the British public (73%) agree that state funded faith schools should not be allowed to select or discriminate against prospective pupils on religious grounds in their admissions policy.

But is this good or bad news for Humanists? I believe that if this becomes an agreed policy then paradoxically it is detrimental to atheism and Humanism.

At present all children who attend Church Aided schools gain admission because their parents were able to demonstrate they are practising Christians who regularly attend church. This implies such parents are likely to have adopted Christian practices in their homes such as regular prayers before meals and praying with their children on other occasions. In addition, they will probably have surrounded their children with a Christian ethos in the home and ensured their child regularly attended Sunday school at the local church.

My implication is that a continued regime of proselytisation within a Christian school merely reinforces similar practices in Christian homes, making it more likely that children from such families will become Christian adults. However, if such schools are no longer allowed to discriminate in favour of Christian families we may discover that far more non-Christian children will be awarded a place. Thus, we now have a situation in which non-Christian children may be subject to evangelisation from committed Christian school staff.

My guess is that with a likely continuation of Christian school practices under possible new regulations we have a net gain for Christianity. Children from Christian families who don’t attend a Church School will continue to be wrapped in a Christian ethos at home, making it likely they will become Christian adults even without a state school Christian education. On the other hand, children from non-Christian homes who may now be accepted into a church school will be enveloped in a Christian ethos throughout their schooling. Regular acts of potent Christian worship every morning could be of a ‘hard-sell’ nature and prayer times in classrooms are likely to be regular and consistent with recurrent references to God and the Bible. In short, the general ethos in Church schools is more likely to result in children from non-Christian families becoming Christian adults, whilst children whose parents are Christian would probably become Christian adults anyway. This is a net gain for the Christian Church!”

What are your views? Is Geoff right to suggest ending religious selection discrimination in schools would be beneficial for the Christian Church?

We welcome your responses and comments.

Further Information:

Accord’s article covering the ComRes poll results: http://accordcoalition.org.uk/2012/11/12/nearly-three-quarters-of-the-british-public-disagrees-with-religious-selection-in-admissions-at-state-funded-schools/

Accord’s research on faith schools can be found here: http://accordcoalition.org.uk/research/

The British Humanist Associations’ policy on education: http://www.humanism.org.uk/education/education-policy

Faith schools’ selection policy in the news:

Telegraph: Selection by religion should be banned in state schools

Guardian: Church schools shun poorest pupils

TES: Synod extends welcome to critics of faith school policy


1 comment:

Richard Scutt said...

Interesting, Geoff.
Don't think I agree with your conclusions, though but will get back to you later.
Your piece would get more reaction on Facebook, I think.