A liberal faith

18th February 2005 at 00:00
In his letter on faith schools and citizenship (TES, February 4) Arthur Jones quotes me on the risk of secular schooling. I stand by the remark - but there are risks in any kind of schooling.

On balance, I incline to the liberal faith (I use that word advisedly) that the ideal is a common school in which people of different religions and none learn from each other while learning to live with each other. That is possible in an inclusive English conception of secularity, unlike the French conception which wants religious identity to be left at the school gate.

No students in any school should be, or need to be, confined within one outlook on the world. Neither religious belief nor the demands of citizenship can provide all the answers. Nor will the ethos of a school, whether faith or secular, guarantee the reflection and discussion that are essential. Space for that must be built into the curriculum in personal, social and health education. I make the case in a new publication from the Philosophy of Education Society, The Importance of PSHE.

Graham Haydon Institute of Education 59 Gordon Square, London WC1

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