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, 14:07 GMT
Analysis: Faith schools and quotas
school view
Some want a cap of 25% of pupils of any one faith
By BBC education correspondent Mike Baker

The reports into the race riots in the north of England have highlighted the role played by schools, particularly faith schools, in keeping different ethnic communities separate from each other.


Ministers have refused to back down from their commitment to allow the creation of more church and other faith-sponsored schools

One key report recommends that faith schools, and others in areas dominated by one ethnic group, should give at least 25% of their places to children from other backgrounds.

The government recently committed itself to the expansion of church and faith-sponsored schools, and says it is not in favour of forcing them to take pupils of other faiths.

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said: "We want to encourage faith schools to take pupils of other beliefs but we cannot oblige them to do so, nor would we want to."

Bad timing

From the moment it was proposed in Labour's election manifesto, this expansion of faith-based schooling has been controversial. The Church of England subsequently announced proposals to create 100 new secondary schools.

Ministers could not have anticipated the events that happened in the following few months: The riots in Oldham, Bradford and Burnley, the problems at the Holy Cross Primary school in Belfast, then the terrorist attack in New York.

Privately, ministers accept the timing has been "terrible".

So far, they have refused to back down from their commitment to allow the creation of more church and other faith-sponsored schools where local people want them.

But they are still in negotiations over new guidance covering the creation of faith schools, due to be published in the New Year.

Quotas

The report on the riots published by the Community Cohesion Review Team says "a significant problem is posed by existing and future mono-cultural schools, which can add significantly to the separation of communities".

It recommends that a requirement for a minimum of 25% of youngsters from other backgrounds should apply to both state and independent schools, whether they are faith or non-faith based.

But the education spokesman for the Local Government Association, Graham Lane, says this proposal "does not go far enough".

He has proposed requiring new faith schools to reserve 70 to 75% of places for children from other backgrounds.

Mirror to society

According to Mr Lane, schools with around a quarter of their admissions based on religious beliefs would still be able to maintain a distinct faith-based ethos.

The Local Government Association - which represents local education authorities - says quotas could be introduced through new guidance on school admissions without the need for legislation.

But ministers are not keen on introducing quotas. They believe segregation in schools is not the result of faith schools but of segregation in society.

They argue it is better to have faith schools within the state system, where they are required to offer a broad curriculum, than in the private system.

Instead of quotas, ministers would prefer the new guidance to stress the need for faith schools to form partnerships and links with other local schools.

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 | UK Education
11 Dec 01 | England
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