Faith schools are maintained schools which follow the National Curriculum, have fully qualified staff, are inspected by Ofsted, have a governing body conforming to a standart model and should promote community cohesion(Teachernet,2011). Faith-based schools in England and Wales have been existed since Middle Ages. The Church of England and the Catholic Church founded first schools in England and Wales in 16th century to make education more obtainable for children from all social classes and family backgounds. Chadwick(2001).
According to Parker-Jenkins,Hartas,Irving(2005), after the Industrial Revolution,in 19th century, it was apparent that faith schools were not able to provide a worthy educated worforce for the country. As a result, government began to provide not only financial support for faith schools, but also created a new form of universal education – “Board Schools”. Nowadays, one third of all maintained schools in England are faith schools (Teachernet, 2011). Recent survey, which was carried out among Londoners showed that 44% of them said they believe that all faith schools should be banned(Smith,2011).
Likewise, in 1980s the Labor party was against religious schools, because they increased religious, racial and cultural divisiveness. However, such policy was changed by the influence of number of reasons. The HRA said, “… the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure… education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions”(HRA, 1998). Likewise, Tony Blair’s religious enthusiasm also affected on British educational system, especially for faith schools (Jackson, 2004). Accordingly, many arguments for and against faith schools have been criticized throughout Britain.
Therefore, this essay attempts to investigate why faith-based schools should not be a compulsory part of British educational system focusing on the basis of pluralistic and democratic views. Divided into three parts, the essay will start with general viewpoints, which support faith schools and subsequently examine the counter arguments followed by the evaluations toward those anti-faith schools issues. Finally, the arguments against faith schools, which are based on the case of multiculturalism and pluralism will be evaluated and concluded.
On the one side, several reasons have been raised in opposition of banning faith schools. Firstly, it seems that students from faith schools produce brilliant examination results. The opponents of faith school teaching methodology claim that standard of teaching, pupils behavior and academic attainment are indeed higher at such schools(Jackson, 2004). Similarly, Feinberg (2006) implied that faith school used to offer a better quality of education. The reason of scholar advantage in faith schools is that a number of them, particulary Christian schools, are located in socially advantaged areas.
Therefore, children from upper class or upper middle class attend such schools. Moreover, faith schools seemed to be more attractive for highly qualified teachers in terms of worthy salary (Schagen et al , 2002). Secondly, faith schools provide secure and safe academic atmosphere. According to Judge (2002), most of faith-based schools in Britain provide locked doors, metal detectors and have police inside the building. Likewise, Purvis (2008), found that high safety level in faith schools was reached not only with help of technology and security, but also because of high-discipline in faith-based schools.
Most of the parents prefer to choose high secured schools for their children, because of violence in schools, which affect to children’s psychology and academic success. Finally, faith schools also provide trust and community atmosphere and strong emotional support. For instance, pupils in such schools are not afraid to share their problems with classmates and to help them (MacMullen, 2008). However, it can be seen that those arguments above are simply weak. They seem to be subjective and relied on an individual basis of faith schools as well as religious believe. Many faith schools appear to give unbalanced lessons in science education.
The conflict between science and religion has always been existed. In many religious institutions, especially Muslim and Jewish, belief in Darwinism or other scientific theories is forbidden (Ferngren, 2002). Therefore, scientific studies in faith schools subsequently differ from normal school one’s. For example, Dawkins (2006) argues that faith schools tend only to teach children in a religious way, avoiding such important curriculums such as science and humanism. Similarly, Cush(2005) states that faith schools provide limited choice of scientific and sociological subjects.
The knowledge of science basics is compulsory for every decent citizen in the age of new technologies and scientific humanity progress. Another argument against faith-based schools is that they do not provide an objective social and moral education for young generation. All religious philosophies have biased views on issues such as abortion or homosexualism. Therefore, children from faith-based schools have conservative views on modern society. For example, the Church of England forbids to do an abortion, Muslim institutions are against of sex before marriage, Jewish religion seem to be strongly in opposition of homosexualism.
All these cases proves that in religious schools children raised in biased way and they are not adapted for modern world challenges(Gardner, Cairns, Lawton, 2005). Moreover, MacMullen(2008) states that children from faith schools feel themselves uncomfortable after graduating school. Their morality and priorities extremely differs from normal children one’s. In addition, Judge (2001) argues that children from religious schools have not got clear idea about morality in modern society, and therefore, seems to feel confused in society after graduating such schools.
These mentioned issues mostly caused by unbalanced social and moral education, which faith schools used to provide for youth. Eventually, religious schools divide people by the contention that “my” religion is the best one. Such viewpoint is irreconcilable with the case of multiculturalism. Many people feel that their own religious tradition is absolutely true, whereas all other faiths are artificial. That case is linked with the fact that faith schools used to teach only their own religion (McKinney, 2008). Children are in risk never actually meeting anyone of a different faith or race.
It sidesteps the problem of deciding whether a group such as Sikhs or Jews are a race or a religion. Good citizenship in democratic and racist-free society may not be best served by separation caused by faith schools moral methodology (Kymlicka, 1999). In conclusion, this paper has outlined arguments both to support and against faith schools. Although there are a number of arguments to support faith based schools, such as good examination results, safety, and community atmosphere, there are still much stronger points against faith-based schools.
Faith schools segregate communities, by educating children in unbalanced way in both social and scientific sides. Such approach is unacceptable in today’s democratic and pluralistic society. In my opinion, the number of faith schools should be reduced in Britain. However, there are other solutions of community segregating issue. For example, faith-based schools might change their educational methodology by making it more pluralistic for homosexuals and other religions.