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Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

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Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by Ivan on Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:08 pm

Don’t let anyone pretend otherwise, the UK is a secular country. In 2005, 6.7% of the UK population regularly attended church; in other words, 93.3% didn’t. By 2015, the level of church attendance in the UK is predicted to fall to about 5% of the population. More people than that will describe themselves as ‘Christian’, or more specifically ‘C of E’, in a census or when they’re admitted to hospital, yet the only time they go near a church is for hatches, matches and despatches. So if religion plays such a small part in our lives, should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer? Should they even be allowed at all?
 
According to the British Social Attitudes Survey 2010, 42% of all those questioned were against any form of faith school. In a YouGov/Accord poll of June 2009, 57% believed that state funded schools which selected students according to their religion harm community cohesion, 72% agreed or strongly agreed that all schools should implement recruitment and employment policies that do not discriminate on grounds of religion or belief, while 74% held the view that all state schools should teach an objective and balanced syllabus for education about a wide range of religious and non-religious beliefs.
 
Writing for ‘The Independent', Joan Smith says: “About a third of state-funded schools are now ‘faith’ establishments. How this has happened in a secular country, where few of us attend a church, mosque or temple, is hard to comprehend. Religious schools are the most racially segregated, according to the British Humanist Association; it has published research suggesting that the majority of state-funded Sikh, Muslim and Hindu schools have no ‘white British’ pupils. Yet new ‘faith’ schools are opening all the time, thanks mainly to the government's free schools programme.”
 
Michael Gove is a right-wing Tory ideologue who wants to break up the state education system and privatise it by stealth. Before the Tories came to power in 2010, he was telling us that he would only allow 'good honours graduates' to teach, but now it seems that anyone can do it. Gove hates the teaching profession and has gone out of his way to antagonise its members, who are now expected to pay in more towards their pensions, work more years before they can draw them and then receive a smaller amount when they do.
 
Gove has diverted funds from where they are needed in order to open free schools – which have no local democratic control, can employ unqualified teachers and don’t need to follow the national curriculum. This subject has come to the fore because of the revelations about the Al-Madinah school in Derby, which, in keeping with many other free schools, employed inadequately qualified teachers. This one also had a requirement for female teachers to wear headscarves.
 
Joan Smith continues: “In a country which is legally committed to gender equality, how did anyone imagine such a policy was acceptable, let alone that it should be funded with public money? This episode highlights a major flaw in the thinking behind the free schools programme….. Since 2010, about half the applications to set up free schools have come from religious groups. That isn't surprising; it's a fantastic opportunity for proselytising.”
 
The European Convention of Human Rights gives parents the right to bring up their children in the religion or belief of their choice without interference from the state. However, they don’t have a right to state funding for religious teaching or faith schools. So, should state schools be allowed to choose pupils on the basis of religion, discriminating in access to a public service that should be open to all? Should state schools be free to select teachers and other staff, or to select governors, according to their religion? And should they be permitted to teach creationism or intelligent design as scientific theories, which they aren’t?
 
The British Humanist Association has concerns over the curricula of religious schools. Some are permitted to teach their own syllabus of religious education, unlike community schools which must follow a locally agreed syllabus. Faith schools often instruct children in the doctrine and practices of a particular religion, and RE in such schools rarely covers other religions or non-religious views in any detail. Ethical issues such as abortion or assisted dying are often approached from an explicitly religious perspective, and if sex and relationships are taught at all it may well be in ways which are homophobic, gender discriminatory and fail to consider contraception and abortion.
 
Joan Smith concludes: “The purpose of education is to develop critical faculties. We don't have atheist schools or Lib Dem schools, and kids should be left to make up their own minds. The debacle in Derby demonstrates that religion has no place in state-funded education, other than as an optional subject.”
 
Sources used:-
 
https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-belief-some-surveys-and-statistics/
 
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/faith-schools-must-not-be-funded-by-us-8891657.html
 
https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/faith-schools/
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by astradt1 on Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:54 am

Perhaps the title of this thread should be ' Should 'Free Faith Schools be funded by the tax payer'

Both my sons went to a Cof E Primary and Junior School, Why because it was the only one in our village, there was no expectation that we attended the local village church, it celebrated all faiths, my sons learnt about Diwali and Eid al-Fitr.

It is Gove's 'Free Schools' which are placing religious demands on those who attend them......
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Oct 23, 2013 12:16 pm

Many cities of The World have an "International School" which follows either the US or British education system and examinations. The students tend to come from an expat family, but by no means necessarily possessing English as a first language.  It's simply that the parents don't fancy their kids being brought up alongside the natives in whatever is the local tradition.  Even some local families with ambition will send their offspring to an International School for similar reasons.
 
My experience of living abroad is that those children of expat families sometimes fail to acquire a fully-developed sense of personal identity.  Inside the family they speak the original English/Dutch/Swedish/Finnish or whatever, but in all other social contacts the local language and customs prevail, and the poor kids don't know what culture to regard as "theirs".
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by stuart torr on Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:06 pm

Getting back to your O.P Ivan, if people are paying tax so these children can be monopolised, into whatever religion their parents wish, then we should ask for a tax rebate.
As that is all it is really let's face it, my daughter goes to a perfectly good state junior school, and at times she asks me things that I would not have known at her age.
Admittedly I only see her for access visits, but we have lovely times and she is ace at monopoly, and can work my computer, so her xmas present is a laptop.
I do not think a faith school could improve on that, let the faiths pay for the education of their churchgoers.
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by boatlady on Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:31 pm

I suspect faith schools are not valued so much because of the quality of education offered as because they offer increased religious instruction.

In my young day, religious parents sent their children to Sunday School within the church of their choice, which offered the opportunity for religious instruction while leaving the state school system reasonably secular - to my mind that's the way we need to go in order to ensure children use their state school time for getting an education
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by stuart torr on Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:27 pm

Exactly boatlady.
But we should not be taxed to pay for faith schools, they should either be private, or the faith/church pay for them/toward them in place of our taxes.
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:55 pm

Regrettably, there is always going to be a slight suspicion that Racists may be the ones exploiting any reasonable concern about so-called Faith schools.

Britain's most respected Universities were founded by the clergy, several centuries ago, who were then the only centralised fount of knowledge. In the 20th. Century most schools were organised by religious groups and many private schools ran as an adjunct to a Convent or Priory.

For many parents the philosophy of a "faith school" which reflects their own beliefs and social preferences is actually more important than any religious element.

It's no surprise that second-or-third generation immigrant families, who work here and pay taxes here, want their children to be schooled where their own culture is understood and respected.  When India was formerly ruled by the British Raj, they sent their children back to England to be educated.
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by boatlady on Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:20 am

You're right, OW, that there is a respectable historical precedent for parents wanting their children to be educated in a way that reflects their own beliefs and social preferences ; however, maybe in the interest of equality of opportunity, perhaps that specialist schooling should be funded separately by parents outside of normal school hours?

My Indian neighbours, from Kerala, sent their daughter to a church school at weekends, where she learned about her religion and Indian culture, but during the week she went to a mainstream primary - seems a good solution to me.
It's my feeling that the State education should be just that - education for the future citizens of the state to take their place on equal terms - for that, you need a bit of standardisation to my mind.
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by stuart torr on Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:32 pm

Now boatlady that seems a very good solution to my mind.
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Jul 16, 2014 5:16 pm

The Nation seems to be waiting for a Minister for Education capable of reconciling the excellence of fee-paying "Public Schools" with the lesser quality evidently regarded as acceptable in the State-run alternative.

At the same time it should be made very difficult for factions of any kind to subvert a national curriculum for narrow interests, particularly where an educational establishment is partly or wholly state-funded. Who pays the Piper calls the tune, as Stuart Torr indicated yesterday.
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by stuart torr on Wed Jul 16, 2014 6:24 pm

Hi oftenwrong.
I do believe that we think along the same lines roughly.
We are waiting for that Minister of Education, but I believe it will be a long wait.
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Thu Jan 29, 2015 5:52 pm

stuart torr wrote:Exactly boatlady.
But we should not be taxed to pay for faith schools, they should either be private, or the faith/church pay for them/toward them in place of our taxes.

I think there is a wider question of whether we should allow children to be exposed to any level of proselytising at all during their state education. Whilst I agree that the state ought not to fund such proselytising, and this would pretty much makes faith schools superfluous, I think a parent can take their child to church if they think it's ok to proselytise a child. Personally I think it's indoctrination. There's a great deal of evidence that such proselytising during a child's formative years amounts to brainwashing as people are unable to relinquish even the most bizarre, demonstrably false or even deeply harmful beliefs in later life. The Jesuits made a chilling boast about their ability to convert FOR LIFE any child that fell into their care.

We insist children don't smoke, have intercourse or drink, I think we owe it to them to protect them from indoctrination as well, unitl they are old enough to make informed decisions.


Last edited by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Thu Jan 29, 2015 5:56 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by stuart torr on Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:39 pm

Very true Sheldon, if the children get indoctrinated prior to 16 years old and came home praying prior to having their dinners, or going to bed,and wanting to go to church at 7 years old whilst you their parents are atheists, it would cause an awful lot of arguments would it not?
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Jan 29, 2015 11:09 pm

Or perhaps those parents who lie to their children about "belief" do not want them to hear a diametrically opposed system of lies when they go to school.
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by polyglide on Sat Jan 31, 2015 11:52 am

This is a more complex matter than at first sight.

Firstly, if there is a God, would it be right to deny a child the chance of deciding for him/her self based on all the information available?.

Secondly, should a child only have one religion explained?

As a child I was frightened to death by the threat of hell fire etc; if I did not behave myself, later in life I looked further into religion and based my faith on what I believe to be the truth.

What complicates matters is the vastly different beliefs held by different faiths.

If a child is never able to consider them all and has to follow what he/she is told regarding only one faith, only one can be right if the others contradict each other, then he/she will never be able to find the true God.

Now I know this depends on there being a God and one true God but I believe there is and everyone should have the chance, as with other faiths, to decide for themselves.

For any school to be of one faith is wrong.
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by snowyflake on Thu Feb 05, 2015 5:56 am

School is for learning not indoctrination. To teach children about the various religions in the world and what they believe is fine. To teach children that one religion is the ultimate truth and all others are not is wrong. To teach children that God is a fact is also wrong. No one knows this.

Teach children to critically analyse information, to look at facts.

When I was a child I was also frightened of hell fire and what would happen to me after death and as far as I'm concerned this was a form of child abuse. It is also one of the dozens of reasons I'm an atheist now. There is no evidence for god, no evidence for the existence of jesus outside of the bible. I do no wish to believe in fairy tales and tout them as facts.
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by polyglide on Mon Feb 09, 2015 2:59 pm

snowyflake,
I can well understand your feelings, however, is it right or wrong, to give a child every opportunity to consider all that the world involves, including religion?

If you deny them the right to hear all that is avilable in religion it would be the thin edge of the wedge.

You would then get some saying they should not learn about this or that.

I feel God does exist, I base this on what I have encountered in life and what the Bible says.

What is very wrong is to indoctrinate without the opportunity to challenge, or have the chance to consider all the alternatives.

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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Mon Feb 09, 2015 8:33 pm

polyglide wrote:snowyflake,
                I can well understand your feelings, however, is it right or wrong, to give a child every opportunity to consider all that the world involves, including religion? If you deny them the right to hear all that is avilable in religion it would be the thin edge of the wedge. You would then get some saying they should not learn about this or that. I feel God does exist, I base this on what I have encountered in life and what the Bible says. What is very wrong is to indoctrinate without the opportunity to challenge, or have the chance to consider all the alternatives.

I'm not sure what that has to do with the question of whether faith schools should be funded by the tax payer. If parents want to fill their children's heads with superstition they can take them to church, that's not what a state funded education is for. Besides no one has suggested they can't learn about religions at school, it can be taught in a secular curriculum, indeed I think it should be as it is very important to show them the difference between faith based superstition and empirically validated evidence. I suspect that the more they learn about religions in a secular context the more obvious it will become to them that humans have always had a propensity for creating myths about gods.
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by snowyflake on Sun Feb 15, 2015 5:09 pm

polyglide wrote:snowyflake,
                I can well understand your feelings, however, is it right or wrong, to give a child every opportunity to consider all that the world involves, including religion?

                 If you deny them the right to hear all that is avilable in religion it would be the thin edge of the wedge.

                 You would then get some saying they should not learn about this or that.

                  I feel God does exist, I base this on what I have encountered in life and what the Bible says.

                  What is very wrong is to indoctrinate without the opportunity to challenge, or have the chance to consider all the alternatives.

                     

You didn't read my post properly polyglide. I said that children can learn about religions but the school itself should not be a faith school. I have no issue with children learning about all the different religions. My problem is a faith indoctrinating children into a specific belief system that is not based on facts or evidence. You can feel god exists all you like. As an adult you make this choice (however misinformed you might be) but it is your choice. Children do not have this choice. They are indoctrinated with prayers and stories and beliefs that they are told are 'true' and a 'fact' when they are nothing of the sort. I don't believe in jewish schools or madrassas or any school that teaches its own religion.

School is for learning. Leave the indoctrination to the churches and synogogues and temples and mosques. Let children make their own decision.
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by stuart torr on Sun Feb 15, 2015 5:59 pm

That sounds how I would think too snowyflake.
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Re: Should faith schools be funded by the taxpayer in the secular UK?

Post by Ivan on Mon Apr 10, 2017 11:11 am

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