Christians should be embarrassed about faith schools

Church schools are a curious concept. The theory is that a faith that preaches ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ should sequester its young people away from the society they are supposed to represent it in.

In practice they are even more gristly. The Guardian reports research on their impact on social segregation:

The paper’s findings were damming and showed most faith schools had a lower proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals than both the average for their local authority area, and amongst children living in the school’s local postcode. The paper found that:
‘Some 73% of Catholic primaries and 72% of Catholic secondaries have a lower proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals than the average for the local authority. It is the same for CofE primary and secondary schools. Some 74% of these primaries and 65.5% of secondaries have a smaller proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals than is average for the local authority. In contrast, non-religious schools tend to reflect their neighbourhoods. Half (51%) of non-religious primaries and 45% of non-religious secondaries have a smaller proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals than is representative for their local authority.
Faith schools fared no better when examined at a more local level. We compared the proportion of poor pupils in each postcode with the proportion of poor pupils in faith schools and non-faith schools studying in that postcode. The data shows 76% of Catholic primaries and 65% of Catholic secondaries have a smaller proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals than is representative of their postcode. This is the case for 63.5% of CofE primaries and 40% of CofE secondaries.
Non-religious primaries and secondaries are far more likely to mirror the proportion of poor pupils in their postcode – just 47% of non-faith primaries and 29% of non-faith secondaries take a smaller proportion of free school meals than is representative for their postcode.’

I can see no way of reconciling what the Bible has to say on fairness and helping the poor with allowing ourselves to help divide communities between rich and poor.

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4 thoughts on “Christians should be embarrassed about faith schools

  1. Some people send their children to faith schools to help give them a solid Biblical foundation so that they can be more effective in ministry and in their personal faith once they graduate. Other times, children are not doing well in a public school setting for whatever reason and a change is necessary. Some of those kids go to alternative schools, others become home schooled, some drop out, some take the GED and finish school early, and others are enrolled in faith schools. Parents send their children to faith schools for a lot of different reasons.

  2. Interesting Mark. Have you had any contact with the OASIS schools – a different take on faith schools. This is where the church take on a failing school, change the culture and offer it as a service to poorer communities. I was very impressed with the Oasis school I have visited. But I suppose they are more ‘academy’ than ‘faith school’. J

    • I agree with you Mark. Religious selection at state funded faith schools can make faith groups appear defensive and inward looking, where as opening the schools up to their local communities would (I think) achieve a more positive image in wider society.

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