Thursday, November 17, 2005


Ruth Kelly on School Selection

Defending the indefensible

Education Minister Ruth Kelly has been desperately defending the new proposals for sectarian schools, published in the schools white paper. The Paper is fairly clear:

"We need a diversity of school providers and this in turn requires us to harness all the energy and talent that can benefit our school system, bringing in educational charities, faith groups, parents and community groups and other not-for-profit providers to run schools."

"Acquiring a Trust will be a straightforward process. The governing body would first consult with parents to ensure support for the idea and for the particular Trust it proposes to acquire. They would then publish formal proposals. Schools that acquire faith-based Trusts would not automatically become faith schools –that would require a separate statutory process."

I heard the interview. She was defending the Paper against charges that it increases selection, supposedly favouring the middle classes. The ability to discriminate in favour of 'children of faith' (see previous post) was taken for granted. It seems to me that she was saying

1a) that nothing about selection was changing. the rules would be the same as before.
1b) Religious schools would of course be allowed to continue to select.
2) City Academies had produced improved results without increased revenue
3) religious schools do not 'select' except to assess children's commitment to their faith

exactly as though we are all credulous oafs who won't consider that:

i) the rules may not change but the proportion of religious schools is set to jump.
ii) City Academies have had huge increases in CAPITAL funding (the interviewer's zinger).
iii) it is the parent's, erm.. 'faith' that is assessed. unless important advances in pedagogy (or heredity!) have been made since I last checked, 4 year-olds don't make considered judgements in favour of sectarianism.

Am I wrong?

The highest absurdity was when she was asked about a school Blair's children have attended, the London Oratory, which was given special permission to interview parents although a nearby school was not given the same permission. She emphasized that this was an exceptional case (this may have been the thrust of the question), and explained that this was so that the school could assess the child's commitment to their faith. (Notice that even the school referred to the PARENT's faith).

What does the Education Department know that we don't about children's ability to select between religions? We should be told (see my previous post).

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?