Have more faith in parents' motives

5th May 2006 at 01:00
Peter Wilby once again puts the boot into faith schools ("Parents pray to the god of 'good' schools", TES, April 21). His cynical attack on the motivation of parents who choose faith schools shows a distinct lack of respect for parents in general and a limited grasp of the nature of religious faith.

He characterises faith as either superstitious nonsense or, at its best, merely utilitarian - inspiring the arts and possibly having a "calming effect on children". Although faith may have some desirable outcomes, this has never been the prime motivator of those of religious faith. It has instead always been a response to the ultimate questions of meaning and purpose for humankind.

Therefore, faith schools are those which Rowan Williams says take religious questions seriously and for whom religion is a "deep and serious matter"

("A culture of hope? Priorities and vision in church schools", speech to Anglican secondary heads conference, September 2003).

They are inclusive with a commitment to a common life and common values, but are connected to a bigger social and moral tradition.

This is what parents value when they choose a faith school in contrast to the cynical secularism of Peter Wilby.

Christine Chalstrey

25 Holliers Crescent

Middle Barton, Oxon

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