Lib Dems call for end to faith-based ad­mis­sions

The Jewish Chronicle - - EDUCATION - BY SI­MON ROCKER

THE LIB­ERAL Democrats have called for a rad­i­cal re­form of stateaided faith schools, in­clud­ing an end to se­lect­ing chil­dren on the ba­sis of their re­li­gion.

Chil­dren at such schools would also have to learn about “all the ma­jor reli­gious and non-reli­gious view­points” and not just their own faith, ac­cord­ing to a res­o­lu­tion passed at the party’s spring con­fer­ence in York over the weekend.

Ad­mis­sion on the ba­sis of re­li­gion or be­lief would be phased out over six years.

While recog­nis­ing there was still a place for faith schools, the LibDems said that seg­re­gat­ing school­child­ren could be “a con­trib­u­tory fac­tor or cause of com­mu­ni­ties fail­ing to in­te­grate or grow­ing apart”.

Un­der their new pol­icy, the party would draw a dis­tinc­tion be­tween ed­u­ca­tion about re­li­gion and in­struct­ing chil­dren to fol­low a par- tic­u­lar re­li­gion. Reli­gious ed­u­ca­tion in state schools should be taught in “a non-di­rec­tive way”.

Pupils would not be re­quired to at­tend acts of wor­ship once “ma­ture enough to de­cide for them­selves”.

But Sheila Ge­wolb, a vice-pres­i­dent of the Board of Deputies, said the mea­sures would af­fect the char­ac­ter of such schools. “The pop­u­lar­ity of faith schools with par­ents re­flects their aca­demic re­sults, their ethos, their be­havioural stan­dards, and the con­tri­bu­tion that their pupils go on to make in wider so­ci­ety,” she said.

“The suc­cess of these schools is partly due to the sense of shared val­ues and a shared pur­pose. Quo­tas or other in­ter­ven­tions in schools’ ad­mis­sions cri­te­ria risk los­ing this ben­e­fit.”

Chil­dren at faith schools should learn about all reli­gious view­points’

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