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Separate faith schools spurned

Labour Party members have ducked references to separate Roman Catholic or even Muslim schools in their wish-list for education reform, writes David Henderson.

A paper presented to the party conference sketches out the party's achievements in power and its ambitions but among several thousands words avoids any mention of the place of Catholic schools in a revamped comprehensive system.

Many in the Church believe Labour wants to phase out separate schooling, beginning with joint campuses built through the public private partnership initiative. Those fears are likely to be strengthened by the absence of any defence of Catholic schooling in Labour's heartlands in the west of Scotland.

Party members are content to say they want to build on the century-long commitment to inclusive education and continue the reform of comprehensive education by extending choice to parents and pupils "over education within our schools".

Labour's prime focus, as Jack McConnell, the First Minister, spelled out, is on the link between deprivation and lower educational attainment. "The average performance of those performing least well in our schools has remained static for a number of years and boys in particular have poorer attainments," members say.

Harnessing Scotland's Talent: Creating Lifelong Educational Opportunities For All is published by the Scottish Labour Party.

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