Society is the loser if faith schools win

23rd July 2004 at 01:00
It might be assumed that, as a rabbi, I am in favour of faith schools, but in fact I endorse Linda Smith's opposition to them (TES, July 9) and argue that the rush into such schools poses a profound danger to society.

If children mix only with fellow Jews or fellow Muslims or fellow Catholics from the age of five to 18, it is inevitable that they will develop a ghettoised view of Britain. The more multi-faith Britain becomes, the more we have to ensure the different groups do not grow apart. There is a real danger that an increase in faith-based schools in Britain will create a religious apartheid system that we will come to regret bitterly in 30 years' time.

Segregation produces children - and later adults - who regard each other with, at best, suspicion and, at worst, enmity. As a rabbi, I have made great efforts to provide my children with a strong Jewish identity, but I also consider it important for them to sit next to a Muslim in class, play football with a Methodist, be in detention with a Hindu and walk home with a "don't-know".

Parents who feel strongly about their children's religious identity have ample opportunity to provide it at home and through supplementary classes.

However good some faith-based schools may be individually, collectively they are a recipe for social separatism. We need to put national cohesion above religious interests. It should also be remembered that the more tolerant and harmonious is society at large, the safer and more valued are its component parts.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain Maidenhead Synagogue Grenfell Lodge Ray Park Road Maidenhead

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today