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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 April, 2005, 09:45 GMT 10:45 UK
The growth of faith schools
School/church graphic
The Church of England is well on the way to 100 more secondary schools
The Tories' education spokesman is calling for a big expansion of faith schools - which have been growing steadily in numbers in recent years.

February 2001

Outlining plans for the future of England's secondary schools - Schools: Building on Success - the then education secretary, David Blunkett, confirmed that the government wanted to see more schools for different faiths where parents wished it.

To assist them, the requirement to find 15% of capital costs was being cut to 10%.

June 2001

The Church of England embarked on the development of 100 secondary schools in addition to its existing 204. They are state-funded but the church owns the site.

February 2002

Mr Blunkett's successor, Estelle Morris, faced opposition over the selectiveness of faith schools from a significant number of Labour backbenchers.

In a Commons debate, she defended the schools as having "shared values, a sense of purpose and a sense of mission".

She said they should not be made a scapegoat for ethnic divisions.

But she added that she would not be "spending one minute of my time or one ounce of energy going out there and promoting more faith schools".

April 2002

The second biggest teachers' union, the NASUWT, called for a ban on new faith schools and said existing ones should be brought completely under state control.

It said the philosophies behind such schools were "exclusive and discriminatory" and deepened social divisions.

April 2004

The qualifications authority for England set out for the first time a national framework for religious education in schools, which is legally compulsory but has been decided locally.

It proposed that pupils should study Christianity at each stage of their schooling, with other major faiths being looked at but in less detail.

May 2004

A report by a committee of MPs, prompted by race riots in the north of England in 2001, said giving parents more choice about their children's school had led to the development of racially segregated schools in some cities.

It said the growth of faith schools could worsen the divide between racial groups, with children being sent to schools with the same racial background because of cultural "ignorance and fear".

June 2004

The Church of England has taken control of 43 more secondary schools and says a further 36 are in various stages of planning.

A report from Muslim groups says there are about 80 Muslim schools but only five have achieved state funding.

January 2005

Feversham College, an Islamic girls' school in Bradford, tops this year's secondary school "value added" league table in England.

Head teacher Jane Tiller said: "Everyone associated with the college has high expectations for exceptional achievement, including the girls themselves."

David Bell, head of the English education inspectorate, Ofsted, said some independent faith schools needed to take more care to show their pupils a British "common heritage" to protect the "cohesion" of an inclusive, multicultural society.

He said Muslim and Evangelical Christian schools must be "intolerant of intolerance" and upset Muslims by singling out Muslim schools for particular criticism.




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