Letters extra: Church schools satisfy a demand

20th April 2001 at 01:00

I am writing in response to the letter "Bishop's Pawns?" (March 16). Alan Powell states that a "faith-based education system fails to provide children with impartial, balanced information on religious issues" and concludes by criticising the use of taxes to build more church schools.

Church schools, like any other, are in the business of education, not indoctrination. It is a parent's choice whether they send their child to a church school. If religion is important to you then you make an informed choice about the school your child attends.

Collective worship is a legal requirement. The 1944 Education Act states, "the school day in every county school and every voluntary school shall begin with collective worship on the part of all pupils in attendance at the school." This was amended in the 1988 Education Reform Act so that the worship could be at any time of the day.

The DfEE's circular 194 states that parents have the right to withdraw their child from collective worship. Is there really such a problem? There are not as many church schools as you would think. Lichfield is the biggest diocese in the country and within it there is only one place that has infant, junior and senior Church of England schools together. These are the Blue Coat schools in Walsall. If the demand for such schools is rising it is only fair that they should be built.

Theology student, College of St Mark and St John, Plymouth

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