Faith schools – e-petition response
The Government has responded to the following e-petition on faith schools, signed by many secularists and humanists:
“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Abolish all faith schools and prohibit the teaching of creationism and other religious mythology in all UK schools.”
Its response is,
The Government remains committed to a diverse range of schools for parents to choose from, including schools with a religious character or “faith schools” as they are commonly known.
Religious Education (RE) in all schools, including faith schools, is aimed at developing pupils’ knowledge, understanding and awareness of the major religions represented in the country. It encourages respect for those holding different beliefs and helps promote pupils’ moral, cultural and mental development. In partnership with national faith and belief organisations we have introduced a national framework for RE.
In February 2006, the faith communities affirmed their support for the framework in a joint statement making it clear that all children should be given the opportunity to receive inclusive religious education, and that they are committed to making sure the framework is used in the development of religious education in all their schools and colleges.
The Churches have a long history of providing education in this country and have confirmed their commitment to community cohesion. Faith schools have an excellent record in providing high-quality education and serving disadvantaged communities and are some of the most ethnically and socially diverse in the country. Many parents who are not members of a particular faith value the structured environment provided by schools with a religious character.
The response refers to “the faith communities”. They are a minority of religious organisations that claim to represent “communities”, but they aren’t elected or necessarily representative of the people they claim to speak for. Which “faith communities” does the Government mean? How has it “consulted” them?
The Government hasn’t responded to the part of the e-petition about Creationism and religious mythology.
Some of the Government’s response to the e-petition is irrelevant. The new national frame work for RE doesn’t make it all right to continue encouraging faith schools. The IPPR warned that faith schools are “colonised by middle-class children”; they are, in effect, selective.
The fight goes on.
Does anyone know if any of the e-petitions on the Downing Street website have resulted in a positive response? Cynically, I suspect that the only petitions likely to receive a sympathtic response are those that have very little effect on Government policy and that the e-petion site is just a PR exercise, like “The Big Conversation”.