Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Faith schools and marraige

The Telegraph reports today that some faith schools are using "intrusive methods" such as asking parents for copies of their marraige certificate. This apparently is a form of "social selection".

Actually, it isn't. Assuming that faith schools are in fact attempting to ensure that they are in fact taking kids whose parents are serious about raising them in the relevant faith, its actually quite a reasonable question to ask. If a child's parents are cohabiting rather than married to each other, the chances are they aren't particularly serious about the faith in the first place.

This leads to a wider point about faith schools - their whole purpose is recognising that education is about more than how many GCSEs and A levels a child gets, and recognising it's about a more holisitic approach, which covers such things as values and personal development. Faith schools do that development in the context of the faith they teach - this is true regardless of whether the school is Catholic, Church of England, Jewish or Muslim. That has to include the teaching of the relevant faith in the home. And an over subscribed faith school is being quite reasonable when it says it wants to choose kids who parents want them to attend because it's a faith school, rather than because it gets better A level results than the "bog standard" comprehensive down the road.

One other comment was "In Roman Catholic schools, more than 90 per cent of children were found to be Christian". Well there's a shock. Catholic schools have long had a selection criteria that said "Catholics first, then other church going Christians". In any case, the Telegraph report isn't clear, but given that the sentence is then followed with "in Jewish schools all pupils subscribed the faith." it must mean this is true for some schools rather than an assessment of all Catholic or Jewish schools. It's certainly not true that all Jewish schools are 100% Jewish - as David Cameron recently reminded us.


Anonymous said...

Well i do think it is a form of social selection. How typically narrow-minded to think that just because a couple or even a single mother isn't married then they are less likely to have the same degree of faith. It could well be that life has opened up their eyes to the fact that not even religion can guard against failed relationships or just plain choice. Personally having been raised a Catholic and brought up in a loveless home where my parents stayed together too long for the children and for face, I can think of no reason to ever walk down the aisle, but i have raised two loving children with great self-awareness, sense of hope, respect and moral fibre to ensure they'll never be a burden to anyone. I can attribute that to my faith but have no time for those who hide behind religion to take the moral high ground, that is as bad as religious fanaticism and other extreme non bending view points.

Thomas B said...

I never mentioned single parents in my posting. Quite deliberately, because the point I was making wasn't relevant to them.

To take Catholic schools as a specific point. The Catholic Church teaches that cohabiting is sinful. Now, you are free to accept or reject that position, but the Catholic Church's position on that matter is quite clear. If two parents are cohabiting, then they are explicitly rejecting a key part of Catholic moral teaching.

If you are explicitly rejecting Catholic moral teaching, then it is not unreasonable for the Catholic school to question the level of your "commitment" to a Catholic education.