Defenders of the faith schools

13th April 2007 at 01:00
Alan Shaw. Headteacher, Moriah Jewish Day School, Pinner, Middlesex

Madeleine Brettingham states that "a Home Office report into the Bradford Riots of 2001 criticised faith schools for institutionalising segregation", presumably referring to the Cantle report. Your readers might infer that faith schools were the cause of these riots.

The Cantle report stated that "the development of more faith-based schools may, in some cases, lead to an increase in mono-cultural schools, but this problem is not in any way confined to them".

Although the report proposes that all schools should seek to limit their intake from one culture or ethnicity, it also lists the difficulties in effecting this proposal, such as issues of parental choice, discrimination on the grounds of culture or ethnicity, bussing of children and the fact that "many schools are already dominated by one or another ethnic or religious group, due to the segregated nature of catchment areas".

Analyses of the Northern riots of 2001 portray a complex situation caused by a combination of factors. These include poverty, segregated housing, gang warfare and infiltration by hundreds of right-wing extremists from outside the area.

There is no evidence to suggest that faith schools were to blame.

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