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Letters extra: Outlaw faith schools?

Faith, or lack of ?

I have read with much interest your recent articles on faith schools and felt that maybe a view from a former OFSTED inspector, who is also from an ethnic minority, might be valuable.

I think it is worth reminding ourselves that 99 per cent of faith schools are Christian. The vast majority of these schools had, and many still do, have a policy which allows them to recruit from a selected group of children. Namely Christians. The same schools also have the privilege of having the public purse open to them to support their own style of schooling.

However, the aspirations of many members of the various ethnic minorities have also risen. It has become clear to them that there is, in fact, a two-tier system in place which discriminates initially on grounds of faith, but results in discrimination by culture, language and colour. The voluntary sector has followed the rules of the game. However, the result that we have to face up to is the obvious inequality and what many rightly believe to be state and institutionalised racism.

One solution would be to outlaw faith schools. But this will never happen because of the strength of the Church, the voting power of churchgoers, the general sentiments of the population and the private sentiments of many in power.

Alternatively, we have to allow the various faith groups to take over existing failing schools or to start new schools that are more in line with their aspirations. And to provide the necessary funding to make this happen.

It is illogical and unjust to argue that you can merely carry on with the status quo.

I was heartened to see the picture in The TES of Muslim girls, wearing their respectful uniforms but still having the enthusiasm to play the nation's favourite game, football (TES, February 8). Maybe, we need to believe in the children of today, as opposed to living in our prejudice of the past.

The belief of the majority culture, and some of its advocates of maintaining this unjust two-tier system is that only through integration and assimilation can we make progress. I beg to differ. It is my Indian in me that has made me a good British citizen. It is my Indian culture that has allowed me to respect the rule of law and the sanctity of all other faiths, cultures and languages. Today, my son aspires to play cricket for England - the less we say about Mr Tebbit the better. Let us not become so fearful of change, that we lose the very essence of the society we have gradually built up.

Maybe the real fear is losing control over the minorities who may become equals one day.

K Dudakia
Ex OFSTED INSPECTOR
Milton Keynes

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