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Last Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005, 11:26 GMT
South: Faith schools
Ian Paul
Ian Paul
The Politics Show South

Tony Blair with pupils
Prime Minister supports 'Faith school' concept

In its recent education White Paper, the government is offering more funding for Christian and other faith schools.

Education secretary Ruth Kelly and Tony Blair are both keen on promoting faith-based education.

If the government's plans go ahead, more than 100 private Muslim schools could be brought into the state sector.

But might that lead to more division between the faiths? Should we perhaps keep religion out of education altogether?

That would seem to be the message from an ICM poll in September, which found 64% of people against state funding for faith schools "of any kind".

It is easy to see why faith-based schools are popular - they do better when it comes to results.

The Politics Show South has surveyed all the secondary schools in the region and found that 72% of pupils at the region's faith schools got five good GCSE results, as against a national average of 53.7% getting five good GCSE results.

Four out of five faith schools in the South beat the national average.

Zaynab McGuirk
Zaynab McGuirk: Cultural advantages for her children?

Zaynab McGuirk, a parent at the Islamia Primary School in Queen's Park, North London, also sees cultural advantages for her children in faith schools:

"I wanted them to have a sense of pride as a Muslim but also to be following the English curriculum so that they could hopefully continue on to university and mix with everyone else.

"But at the same time they'd know about Islam from a Muslim and not a Christian point of view."

At present, although there are plenty of Catholic and Anglican schools in the region (70 out of 506), there are no purely Muslim or Sikh schools.

But that could be about to change. So keen is the government to promote faith-based schooling that they are putting money into it.

Quite a lot of money; 90% of the cost of a new school, in fact.

That is how Slough's Sikh School Trust was able to break ground this summer.

They have had to raise 800,000 themselves, and then the government chipped in the remaining 6m.

Hari Singh
Hari Singh is clear about advantages

Hari Singh, a Trustee of Slough Sikh Primary School and a former teacher in state schools in Berkshire, is very clear about the advantages to pupils of having their own school:

"The force of their religion and faith and the ethos of how to become a good citizen will be there all the time.

"They will have difficulty indulging in crime or hating other people or doing something which is not the Sikh way of doing things."

We want to hear what you think. Are faith schools divisive?

Are they a way of getting selection in through the back door?

The Politics Show

Let us know what you think. Send us an email and we will put your points to the invited guests.

Join Peter Henley, live from Christ's Hospital School, Horsham on Sunday 04 December 2005 at Noon on BBC One.

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Disclaimer: The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all emails will be published.

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