Speaker's Notes on the full range of arguments against 'faith' schools

This document has two papers:-

The first is a single page handout with a list of the arguments and a brief explanation of the points being made.

The second is a two page speaker's notes version of the above, with a concise but more detailed explanation for the speaker to elucidate.

( Depending upon your PC and Printer you may need to copy, cut and past them into your own software to enable you to print them off separately, as one page 'handout' and the two pages of notes.)

Handout - Click here or scroll down to next page

Speaker's Notes Click here or scroll down to notes on pages 3 and 4.

This is only one way to approach the subject of religion in schools and 'faith' schools .

Here it is approached by the effects it has - Educational - Human Rights and Discrimination - and Divisiveness.

Another effective way is to consider in turn, the different aspects of - RE - RI - Worship - and 'Faith' schools' .

HANDOUT - 'Faith Schools', RI, RE (as it is currently taught) and Acts of Worship and Prayer, entail a range of issues only a few of which are regularly raised :-

1. Educational Issues

Objectivity Biased teaching 'opinion' as fact

Honesty - Teaching ALL about religion

Selection - Affects education in other schools.....

Funding -Who pays and for what?

As an Examination Subject -Gives an unfair advantage of an easy extra

2. Discrimination and Human Rights Issues

Children -Abuse of biased teaching, alternatives, requirement to worship

Teachers - Employment discrimination

Parents - Pressure from clerics, local school - choices

3. Divisiveness

Ghettoisation -facilitates gang behaviour and bullying and civil strife

Community Divisions based on religion. -encourages prejudice, discrimination and conflict,.

4. Societal Effects

Social Pressure and Control - pressure from and control by, religious leaders

Effect on Community Schools - affects minorities and intake of other schools

Finding a School -difficult to find local schools if many are select and segregate

The School Run -Traffic congestion and time pressures on parents and children

State Funding - who pays for religious teaching?

Links and Sources:- www.c.s.e.freeuk.com

www.rootsofsexism.freeuk.com, and Children and Religion on www.secularsites.freeuk.com


Speaker's Notes:-

Faith Schools', RI, RE (as it is currently taught) and Acts of Worship and Prayer, entail a range of issues only a few of which are regularly raised :-

First and Foremost children are individuals with rights. They are not the property of their parents and should not be assumed to have 'beliefs' or assigned to religions, before an age at which they are able to decide on them in the light of information and understanding.

For the same reasons they should not be required to worship and practice religious rites in schools.

1) Educational Issues (Given their importance it is surprising how little these issues are discussed)

a) Objectivity - There can be no place in Education for the teaching of opinion as fact.

Children have a right to be given information on all philosophical life stances, including atheism the Bright' Perspectives', objectively and with equal liability to criticism. It is an abuse of young minds if their teachers do not respect their integrity and take advantage of their immaturity to present only one side of a subject as fact, when they know that there are other opinions.

There are many facts about religion, but they are not 'truths' if they rely on 'faith'.

Religions cannot be relied upon to teach religion objectively.

b) Honesty - There are many 'facts' about religion, historical facts about the Inquisition, Crusades, Witch Trials etc. But where they depend upon opinion or belief and should be open to criticism. For RE to be taught honestly, it must include the many evil results of religion - personal and community conflict, divisiveness, prejudice and discrimination, cruelty, abuse and killings throughout history and throughout the world today and these should be juxtaposed to the advances under increased secularisation.

c) Selection of children by the religions adds to the educational disadvantages to children in community schools, as well as diminishing their true communal nature.

d) Funding No only are there questions about non-believers paying for religious proseletyising, there are worries that 'faith' schools can be used politically as a way of increasing inequality by reducing the funding to the education of children from some racial groups.

d) As an Examination Subject - Unless this is treated as an objective subject, and the subject taught within a historical or philosophical context, it gives an advantage to the children from religious homes with their partial views, and thus discriminates against those not from a religious background or an atheist background. It gives them an easy extra GCSE or CSE.

2. Discrimination and Human Rights Issues (Some of the least explored issues)

Churches are allowed to discriminate against their employees, teachers, children and parents, by their employment and selection practices.


a) Abuse of children's right to honesty and objectivity in all aspects of education.

b) Children have to be singled out by being withdrawn from class without alternative quality provision.

c) To require worship from a child is an abuse of their rights since they are not of an age to make adult judgements on what worship means, and whether it is justified or desirable.


Teachers properly qualified to teach their subject/s can be discriminated against on grounds of religious belief or lack of it, sexual orientation or marital status, where this has no bearing on their ability to practice their profession. This reduces their prospects for employment in the area in which they live.


Parents suffer discrimination whether they are religious or not!

They are discriminated against on the same grounds as teachers and can be put under pressure from clerics and/or schools if they want their children to go to a particular school near to home that has been designated a 'faith' school.

3. Divisiveness (The Most Often Used Arguments)

Segregation leads to Divisiveness can and often does lead to personal and community conflict

a) Ghettoisation - Segregated schooling leads to segregated housing, and ghettoisation, as parents are tempted to move to catchment areas around schools or churches or mosques.

b) Community Divisions based on religion - School Uniforms, out of school activities, and school based friendships further reinforce the labelling and segregation of children into religious divisions.

They often adds to other forms of social advantage, or disadvantage, class, wealth and ethnicity

4. Societal Effects

Social Pressure and Control

The Establishment of 'Faith' schools - gives control over children and their parents to religious or community 'leaders' and enables pressure to be exerted on them to conform to 'cultural' or religious demands especially in religious or ethnic minority communities, and is particularly pernicious for the women and girls in some of these communities.

Effect on Community Schools -

i) They become less mixed and minorities get smaller.

ii) 'Faith' schools take children out of mainstream schools so that those who do stay in mixed schools will be in an even smaller minority.

iii) Parents are often pressured by priests and community leader to send their children to 'faith' schools.

Finding a School - finding suitable schools for children in a locality where there are different 'faith' schools is a growing problem, particularly as they often also select by ability, class and wealth in order to maintain what they claim as their superior status.

The School Run

Transporting children to and from schools outside their locality adds to road congestion and lengthens the school day for young people and their parents. It adds to the stresses and strains on family life and weakens the social relationships within communities, when children are dispersed to widespread schools their sense of identity with children in their locality is disrupted and can cause a sense of social isolation, that can affect their confidence and social development.

State Funding

A multi-cultural society has a right to expect that any system that causes inequality and segregation of children into sectarian groups should not be paid for by the state. There is more than enough evidence to prove that segregation leads to strife.

My own personal view is that biased teaching is an abuse of children whether it is by parents, priests or teachers, in private or 'faith' schools. I think that if an when we become really civilised biased teaching of any subject will be considered unacceptable, but I realise that we are only at the beginning of this process, and one of the strongest arguments we have to make at this time is that in a secular state, the state should not condone biased teaching or fund it by subsidising 'faith' schools.

No-one should feel that they have to create their 'own' school' or withdraw their children in order to avoid prejudice and discrimination from a school.

Prejudice and discrimination against women, gays, Jews, and other minority groups are rooted in religious belief, not to mention the systematic suppression of the views of non-believers. see:

Links and Sources:- www.c.s.e.freeuk.com

www.rootsofsexism.freeuk.com, and Children and Religion on www.secularsites.freeuk.com