Politicians must heed bishop's sermon

6th May 2011 at 01:00

Gerard Kelly's leader in support of the Bishop of Oxford ("Taxpayer-funded piety for the few?", 22 April) is greatly welcome. It is a sad irony that so many schools founded with the laudable Christian aim of giving education to the poor now function as enclaves for the affluent.

However, this is only a first step along a very long road. Since the disastrous Education Reform Act 1988, politicians of all parties have abandoned the ideal of education as a public good that benefits society as a whole. Instead, they have conceived of it as an essentially private good, to be marketised and competed for by parents anxious to promote only the welfare of their own children. This explains the popularity of religious schools in an increasingly irreligious society. It also helps to explain why UK educational standards fall well short of the best in international tables.

Until politicians summon up the courage to admit that educational resources need to be shared fairly, rather than fought over, our divisive and hierarchical system will continue to waste the nation's talents. Many middle-class children will continue to find that the Holy Spirit puts most of His efforts into Years 5 and 6.

Michael Pyke, Campaign for State Education.

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