BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Education  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 16:09 GMT
Call for minority quotas in schools
Riots in Oldham
Many feel segregation in schools increases tension
Schools dominated by one race or faith should offer at least a quarter of their places to pupils from other backgrounds, recommends a report on England's race riots.


All schools - whether faith or non-faith based - should seek to limit their intake from one culture or ethnicity

Community cohesion report
The report on "community cohesion" - one of four studies looking at the disturbances in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley - warns against an intake of pupils from one single culture or ethnicity.

The report says this principle should apply both to faith schools and to those which happen to be dominated by one ethnic group - and to independent as well as state schools.

"All schools - whether faith or non-faith based - should seek to limit their intake from one culture or ethnicity," the study says.

"They should offer at least 25% of places to reflect the other cultures or ethnicities within the local area."

Segregation

The report says many of those people surveyed expressed views about "segregated" or monocultural schools.

"Most people we spoke to felt that more such schools would add to the lack of contact and understanding between communities and we need to break that down," the report says.


Because of parental choice, we don't have that much control over who goes to which school

Bradford Council spokesman
A spokesman for Bradford Council said a balanced school population was one way of encouraging understanding and interaction between people of different cultural backgrounds.

But, while schools had a role to play in developing understanding between cultures, it was unrealistic to expect them to solve racial tension, he warned.

"Despite the focus on segregation in schools, schools can't be expected to resolve the much wider problems of community relations in our society," he said.

Schools tended to reflect the communities where they were based and which they served, he said.

"Because of parental choice, we don't have that much control over who goes to which school.

"Parents will send their children to schools they think will do the best for them and will also send them to local schools rather than to schools on the other side of the city."

Faith schools policy

The recommendation for a broader mix of pupils in schools comes after the government has made clear its commitment for more faith-based schools.

The Home Secretary - and former education secretary - David Blunkett defended the policy, saying these schools performed well and were popular among parents.


Very few people in the government have looked carefully at the implications of a society ten/twenty years down the line where there is a more clear divide between the religions and schooling

Barry Sheerman, Labour MP
"For many years people have campaigned to have their faith recognised in the same way as others.

"There is a tremendous commitment from families to a variety of faith-based schools who do extremely well," he said.

And Prime Minister Tony Blair reaffirmed his backing for faith schools.

Asked if more should be encouraged, his official spokesman said: "Yes, because they can not only meet particular needs, they can actually result in further engagement with non-faith schools and they have a duty to be inclusive."

Caution

But their views were challenged by the Labour MP, Barry Sheerman, who chairs the cross-party education select committee.

"I think very few people in the government have looked carefully at the implications of a society 10/20 years down the line where there is a more clear divide between the religions and schooling.

"We've only got to look at the painful, recent example of Northern Ireland within the Christian community to see what problems that produces," Mr Sheerman said.

The warning was echoed by general secretary of the NASUWT, Nigel de Gruchy, who urged the government to act with "great caution and sensitivity" over faith schools.

"Somehow we have to find a formula which enables communities to have their faith schools if they so desire, but without exacerbating other problems of division elsewhere in society," said Mr de Gruchy.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Danny Shaw
asks teachers and pupils in Oldham how increased integration would work
John Denham, Home Office minister
"Faith schools have a responsibility to work in an inclusive way"
Find out more about the violence in northern England during the summer of 2001


Background

TALKING POINT

FORUM

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

11 Dec 01 | England
11 Dec 01 | UK Education
13 Jul 01 | UK Education
10 Jul 01 | UK Education
19 Feb 99 | UK Education
10 Jul 01 | UK
Links to more Education stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Education stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes