This blog is a political blog from a left-of-centre perspective. This is not specifically a party political blog, but does have a Lib Dem orientation. Constructive enagement with radical liberals, social democrats / democratic socialists and greens is particularly welcomed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Illiberal Liberals and Faith Schools

Much has already been said on this subject so my posting will be short.

How can many in a supposedly decentralist party wish to impose from the centre a list of diktats on faith schools ? Those of a secularlist bent have plenty of schools that reflect that ethos, so why seek to deny choice to those of us who support the Christian values (but not scriptural indoctrination) of the best faith schools ?

If one is so concerned about equality of opportunity for all our children, might one focus attention on the absurd advantages the independent schools enjoy, not least including charitable status and attendant tax breaks.

Being pragmatic, something I'm often not, getting in a tangle over faith schools only risks alienating huge swathes of people which doesn't make electoral sense.

For my part, diversity within the comprehensive system remains the least worst option. Access to 'good' schools for those in our poorest areas remains the achillies heel in our quest for a more equitable schools system. Certainly here in Torbay, St. Cuthbert Mayne, unlike alternative non-denominational schools, does not select according to aptitude. Students come from a variety of backgrounds and a variety of learning needs, but are bound together by the Christian ethos of that school.

Irrespective of your opinion of faith schools, in general the mention of religious belief is a subject that often 'smokes out' the intolerance of illiberal Liberals. A recent LDV contributor Laurence Boyce's interpretation of Islam being a prime example. And no, I may be a Christian, but I am not a fundamentalist, I'm not homophobic, don't moralise about sex and hopefully don't fit the negative stereotypes such a label engenders in some minds. Here's an idea, lets be little more liberal.... on this and other issues.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Tristan said...

A scary thing... but I'm broadly in agreement (!) ;)

Of course, I'd say get the state out of education completely, tiding over the transition to a free and more equal society, in which education is accessible to all with no state involvement at all, with grants going directly to children to spend as they and their parents feel best.

(now that is decentralist)

7:25 pm GMT

 
Blogger Darrell G said...

As was said at conference one persons choice is anothers lack of it....and so it is for parents in the catchment areas of these schools....people who dont often get mentioned and there is plenty of evidence out there that faith schools play foot-loose and fancy free with the rules and also select on other criteria....

And then you have the quite right principle of secularism which is a cornerstone and indeed a founding cornerstone of modern democracy...

Practically I see the only way round this is for there to be no national position and for it to be a matter of conscience....

12:03 am GMT

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Con Libs believe that choice of schools should be abolished.
Liberal Assembly 2007: The Liberal Party believes that school admission should only be managed within defined catchment areas which would reduce the need for car travel and its associated pollution; it would encourage walking and cycling, improve health and combat the rising level of child obesity.

11:16 pm GMT

 

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