The Big Faith School Myth exploded (again)

If you think about it, there is no logical reason why Faith Schools should perform any better than community schools do. Are people of faith more educated or gifted and therefore perform better as teachers? Do religious morals increase academic performance? Let’s guess.
Each time this is examined by people who are really independent of the Faith school system we get the same result: that Faith Schools manage to select kids with greater parental support and exclude the disadvantaged. It is as obvious as it is shocking.
University of Bristol researchers, reported here by Humanists UK, have re-evaluated the government’s ‘Progress 8’ measure of school performance, which shows faith schools in a favourable light based on pupils’ attainment at the end of primary school. Dr. George Leckie and Professor Harvey Goldstein have published their own ‘Adjusted Progress 8’ which adjusts for ethnicity, language, special educational needs (SEN), free school meal eligibility, and levels of deprivation. This leads to ‘dramatic changes’ in the average pupil progress scores of faith schools which, ‘[reduce] substantially once the educationally advantaged nature of their pupils is taken into account.’
Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Ruth Wareham said:
‘We have long been aware that the metrics used to compile national league tables benefit schools with advantaged pupil intakes. Unfortunately, the perception that a higher ranking in these tables means a school is superior to those lower down is often used by proponents of religious schools to promote the spurious claim they offer better quality education and that we should, therefore, open more such schools.
This is evidently wrong. The adjusted measure demonstrates that differences between the performance of religious schools and those without a religious character have far more to do with the characteristics of the pupils these schools admit than the quality of education they offer. If religious schools were forced to become more inclusive, we would soon see the myth that faith schools are “naturally better” fade away for good.’
Isn’t it strange therefore that the government continues to encourage the establishment of even more faith schools despite being aware that they segregate kids on the basis of religion – and therefore, frequently, also segregating them on the basis of race and colour, however unintentional.
We need to call them by a name which more accurately describes their function – a name that is more commonly used in Northern Ireland: Sectarian Schools – and recognise that the function of the worst of these schools is frequently not to educate, but to isolate the children from ideas that are outside of the beliefs of the religion in control. We shouldn’t be using state funding for this purpose.

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