Letters extra: two sides to religious schools

7th September 2001 at 01:00

In response to Clive Delmonte's letter (August 13) I can see both sides.

Schools with a predominant religion tend to do better in exams. It's a big plus, but it's not everything.

Multicultural schools, particularly in London, have produced a generation of pleasant, sociable, responsible young people who are keen to improve the future. The benefits of multicultural education are many and varied, not least because of the awareness raised and the friendships made. Every generation blames its youth, but the teenagers I read about in tabloids are far outweighed by the ones who do not commit atrocities.

Multicultural education creates a vibrant learning environment right from the earliest years, and to be in a class of teenagers from all over the world is an experience that outclasses any other profession.

Multicultural teaching is a big part of any training work its salt, and many young teachers entering the profession (I have met one bad one in 11 years) have grown up without the fear and loathing of racism.

Religious schools, it should not be forgotten, offer tremendous support to students at weekends, in holidays, and outside mainstream school. I will never forget meeting a Year 8 new arrival once at a London comprehensive who could speak five languages fluently. Her support outside school was immense because of the religious community she was part of.

We all need, as Mr Delmonte rightly says, to look at the "lessons of history". We've reached a stage now where students can choose - I wonder where their choices will take us - they couldn't do worse than this government if they tried.

Tom Prunty

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