Faith Schools – Will Education Secretary Damian Hinds feed the Chimera?

The Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, a Catholic himself, is considering lifting the cap which mandates that faith schools can only reserve 50% of their intake for their own faith. So, it appears as though the government is preparing to ditch a restriction only introduced in 2010 at the same time as ignoring illegal faith schools that are failing kids in the most appalling way.

Sadly, the Education Secretary has a serious conflict of interest when it comes to lifting the cap. The demand to lift the cap comes from the Catholic Church, which claims that it simply can’t expand as cannon law prevents it opening more schools that may have to then turn away ‘Catholic children’ when it hits the cap. It is that same Catholic Church that has been funding Damian Hinds’ own office to the tune of £5,000, as reported by The Times.

The arguments being used by the Catholic Church to justify the removal of the cap, and repeated by devout Tories such as Jacob Reece-Mogg, don’t appear to stand up to much scrutiny, according to Humanists UK.

The ‘cannon law’ argument doesn’t appear to have prevented the Catholic Church from building schools in the past, so why now? It also seems to ignore the need for inclusiveness, something it has always claimed for its schools, despite evidence to the contrary. It appears that the Catholic Church is as happy to abuse statistics as it has been abusing the children in its care, as reported on the Faith Schoolers Anonymous blog.

Illegal Faith Schools have been a problem for years, but seem to have succeeded, thus far, in keeping themselves below the radar. Schools must be registered and inspected, so how can such schools exist? The simple answer is: Home Schooling. Parents can opt to home educate their children, so it easy to take this option – effectively removing the child from the register – and then despatch them each day to an illegal school. Many of these schools are only being discovered because of the streams of school-age kids going in and out of anonymous offices and industrial buildings.

So, how can we deal with illegal Faith Schools? There are a number of measures that can be taken – mandatory registering and inspection of home schooling for one. Finding and closing existing schools is another – many have been tolerated on the basis that they claim that they are going to become registered (which is unlikely) and both the government and the councils are frightened to be seen as attacking minority or “Faith Communities”. The bottom line is that no-one has been prosecuted, and this is despite the horrendous failings of these schools, including: not teaching in English; teaching hatred of other communities; focusing on religious learning and excluding the normal subjects we would expect kids to understand if they are to take their place as useful members of society in the 21st century. This is the story from one ex pupil as reported to Humanists UK.

Despite the Ofsted Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, saying that ‘Weaknesses in current legislation’ are enabling illegal religious schools to stay open and ‘avoid proper scrutiny’, the government seems to continue to sit on its hands, again from Humanists UK.

So, the government seems intent – contrary to all the evidence – on feeding one head of the Chimera whilst ignoring the other heads that are attacking our society from within.