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Faith Schools - A new approach...?

(31 Posts)
Tearaway Thu 21-Jul-11 21:31:14

Hi all,

Does anyone know what currently distinguishes a faith school from a secular school? Is it simply the regular act of worship i.e. morning assembly/mass or is religion woven into their teachings on a daily basis?

Mine are educated in a secular school so I don't really know.
I was educated in non-selective CofE schools (primary and secondary). I only remember being godly in morning assembly. For the rest of the day, I think we were simply taught our lessons. Have things changed?

The reason I ask is because I've been following the Faith Debate and it strikes me that the easiest solution is not to make all schools secular (not sure that's what parents want) but to make all of them provide for faith of all types in non-selective environment. Religious education in itself does not do this because it takes an unbiased stance whereas I think parents who choose faith schools want their child to receive some active teaching in that particular faith.

Do you think that there might be a case for making all schools non-selective but to require each one to permit regular acts of worship/religious guidance for children who attend? Those who are not religious (or not religious enough to want to worship) could attend some equally morally enlightening session. It would perhaps mean splitting children up along religious lines for one session of the day but otherwise all children would be raised/educated together. Wouldn't need to cost any more than currently because you could make it up to the local religious leaders to provide the religious guidance. If they felt it was important, I'm sure they would fund it or find suitable volunteers.

Any views?

yellowsubmarine41 Thu 21-Jul-11 22:30:58

There aren't any secular schools in the UK, I believe. The esteemed NC requires all schools to organise 'collective workship of a broadly Christian nature' or something like that.

One thing that most definitely distinguishes faith schools is that the state pays for the teachers' training and development, their salaries, all the resources, 90% and the schools gets to decide who can and can't be admitted on faith grounds.

I am one parent who most definitely would like schools to be secular and wish I had the option of this in the UK.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 22-Jul-11 18:25:15

The compulsory act of worship in all State Funded schools is one of the driving factors towards the UK being one of the most secular countries in the world.

All mention of religion is banned in America state funded schools - and look at where it has got them!

I'm an informed atheist. My kids are heading that way to.
I'm against any sort of segregated "faith" schools - but UTTERLY in favour of compulsory education about religion in schools.

yellowsubmarine41 Fri 22-Jul-11 18:43:46

"The compulsory act of worship in all State Funded schools is one of the driving factors towards the UK being one of the most secular countries in the world."

In what way?

OrangeHat Fri 22-Jul-11 18:45:45

The amount of religion that the children get in a faith school depends entirely on the school.

TBH the amount of religion that children get in non-faith schools depends on the school as well.

A faith school might go from one with a few prayers in the morning to one where a lot of time was taken up with religious teaching and worship (as long as they managed to pack in the national curriculum as well, obviously!)

And I have heard on here of community schools giving more than just the daily act of worship of a broadly christian nature IYSWIM.

Personally I'm with Lisa Simpson - keep the schools for learning factual stuff, and church/family for religious stuff. I don't feel there is a need for this in schools.

With the advent of "free schools" though I imagine we will be getting many more faith schools though.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 22-Jul-11 18:45:57

I cannot prove cause and effect
but both facts are well borne out by statistics.
And look at the USA to see the converse

OrangeHat Fri 22-Jul-11 18:47:52

I don't think the fact that America is a very religious country is to do with not having a pray in schools! grin

TalkinPeace2 Fri 22-Jul-11 19:12:40

yes it is.
Faith and education are not linked in any way in the US
so there is a parallel education system - thousands of religious kids are home schooled
leading on to religious universities
the secular and religious societies do not mix and have little knowledge or awareness of each other
it is a serious problem leading to fractures within American Society

OrangeHat Fri 22-Jul-11 19:32:11

Americans are not more religious that us because they don't pray at school!

They are more religious than us for a host of reasons, very interesting reasons, to do with history and geography and all sorts of things.

The fact that they don't do religion in schools is not the reason they are more religious than us.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 22-Jul-11 19:33:41

I would beg to differ - but only because I AM American and my close and extended family live there

OrangeHat Fri 22-Jul-11 20:13:30

So you think that the history of the country, and the places that it's population are drawn from, are of little relevance, compared to the fact that there is no praying in schools.


I think that gets an hmm TBH.

OrangeHat Fri 22-Jul-11 20:16:43

some light reading

OrangeHat Fri 22-Jul-11 20:25:32

I mean, I know it's your country, and all that, and I don't mean to be argumentative, but the reasons that the US is so religious are complex and bound up in history and so on.

The idea it's because they don't pray in schools is odd.

breatheslowly Fri 22-Jul-11 20:54:38

Why not just have secular schools and allow parents to provide religious instruction and worship at weekends and in the evenings? I would expect schools to still provide religious studies to allow students to understand the main faiths but with a "some people believe" rather than factual stance. Why would you need schools to split up classes to provide religious instruction and use school time to do something that is essentially a private matter?

TalkinPeace2 Fri 22-Jul-11 21:33:18

The point is that by making it compulsory in schools, children learn about all faiths and the comparisons between them.
"Faith schools" are by definition insular
the American nightmare is that "Faith" is insulated from society

My family arrived in the US before Ellis Island was thought of.
Fire and Brimstone and non conformism was integral
I really, really believe that the only way to a peaceful society is through education and mixing : which is NOT happening in the USA

OrangeHat Sat 23-Jul-11 11:00:49

breatheslowly I couldn't agree more.

talkinpeace I agree with your last line there as well. It was your original point that I couldn't get the hang of!

mummytime Sun 24-Jul-11 10:21:36

I think the danger in the USA as religion is not taught in school they know little about other religions, and a lot of it can be mis-information. They are also not taught to respect those of other faiths, as faith cannot be mentioned in school.
In contrast at my DCs C of E school they study other faiths, including a whole week looking at Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism (and this is a very Christian C of E school). Similarly they have to learn about other faiths at the local Catholic school.

However back to the original question, there maybe very little difference between some faith and some community schools, on the other hand there can be a great deal of difference in "feel" and maybe some practice.

saintfranksdisco Sun 24-Jul-11 10:36:36

Talkinpeace, Are you saying that in the US schools there is no religious education of any kind? So children go through school and are taught nothing of the differing religions in the world. If that is the case, then yes I agree that it must be a significant factor. Surely if children are only given religious instruction from their families/churches they are more than likely being given a very one sided view.

EdithWeston Sun 24-Jul-11 11:00:59

I'm wondering if OP is in UK or not. In UK, the only secular schools are in the private sector. All State funded schools must provide a collective act of worship duly, which must be broadly Christian (unless the school has a waiver permitting a different faith).

All State schools must follow the NC in terms of RE, so there will be lessons about all the major faiths.

In terms of resources, the older (usually VA) schools' land and buildings are also owned by the Church, not the State. I don't think it is realistic to think the Government can afford a buy-out at present.

The ethos of faith schools will vary between each school. It is often that ethos which is specifically sought out by families (whether of that religion, a different religion, or agnostic).

choccyp1g Sun 24-Jul-11 11:09:15

I can never understand the "ethos" argument.
Perhaps when you get to secondary school, a strictly Catholic one might teach them specific things about abortion or sex, but surely ALL primary schools have the same "ethos" in terms of being nice to each other, doing your best, sharing resources, showing respect etc.

Or is "ethos" a code for "our kind of people"

EdithWeston Sun 24-Jul-11 11:18:34

I didn't mean it as code - especially as our local RC church is full of new arrivals to UK (and across the country tend to be more diverse than other schools).

I used the term ethos to refer to a shared set of beliefs, rooted in faith and expressed in the religion, and taken into the community. It doesn't always translated into practice, but there are shared ideals of love and forgiveness, redemption and the possibility of transformation, and about behaviour in general (expressed in the catechism). No religion, of course, has a monopoly on ideals, but faith schools can tap into a shared "codification" of them which applies in the school, the home, the faith community and the wider community. BTW, my DCs do not go to a faith school.

TalkinPeace2 Sun 24-Jul-11 18:00:59

read and weep

TalkinPeace2 Sun 24-Jul-11 18:03:04

and here

EdithWeston Sun 24-Jul-11 18:27:05

I don't know these schools (not my part of the world), but the wiki shows that allegations against the first group were withdrawn (after legal action mooted) and OFSTED is OK with them. Not clear what the point is with the other group, other than to show that many new faith schools were opened under the previous Government (and I doubt this one will change that).

Tearaway Mon 25-Jul-11 15:46:15

Hi, OP logging in again. Re EdithWeston's comment, I am in the UK (London)and my kids go to a state primary. It's possible I am misinformed about the school being secular but I think it is. As far as I am aware there is no act of collective worship. They hold assemblies but never with a worshipful theme.
The children have never asked me any questions about God/Jesus so I'm guessing that it is never really brought up.

It is described by Ofsted as religion: "not applicable".

It describes itself as having: "...a firm commitment to celebrating diversity,... We are proud that there are many different nationalities represented at our school. We value all people regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, gender, culture or religion and will work to ensure that any form of discrimination is eliminated from our school.

All our children have equal access and entitlement to the curriculum and this is reflected in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding."

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