James Tait explores the issue of faith schools and their place in a modern, secular society, asking if we should keep the faith.
Faith schools are schools that follow the national curriculum whilst combining its teachings with appropriate religious beliefs.
In the United Kingdom, the vast majority are Christian schools. However, an increase in Britain’s cultural and racial diversity has lead to the founding of Jewish, Muslim and Sikh schools.
Currently in the United Kingdom there are 7,000 of these schools – 6,400 primary faith schools and 600 secondary. This figure stands as a startling third of the national total of schools – a statistic made even more astounding by a rise in secular beliefs and decline of religion across the country.
The role of faith schools in the modern education system provokes great debate due to the many issues that branch from it. More specifically, it acts as a microcosm for whether religion is still an important element of society. As a pupil of a school in Edinburgh – a city which hosts many faith schools – the issue of faith schools is something that is very close to home.
Surely, when debating the issue of education, the interests of the child should be the priority of the argument. By enrolling a child in a faith school, it could be argued that the child is being signed off to a pre-determined future.
In the most important years of their lives, where the foundations are set for their futures, the children’s attitudes will be based on purely religious beliefs rather than more balanced independent arguments.
In a nation where freedom of choice is at the forefront of key decisions made by the most powerful people in the nation, why should the future of the nation be forced to live in the past?
A recent survey of the United Kingdom showed that 61% of the nation held no religious beliefs. This figure clearly demonstrates the decline of religion in society.
As faith schools are funded by the state, why is a portion of the nation’s money being spent on something over half its inhabitants oppose?
Of course, as long as religion exists in society there will be a place for faith school, however, it seems they are being given a disproportionate quantity of funding.
By continuing to fund and encourage the growth and development of faith schools, the government may find that in fact the public are rapidly running out of faith in them.
Image: Bible © Savio Sebastian (savioseb, flickr)
By James Tait