The Faust in faith schools

The BBC reported on some research on faith schools this week. LSE researchers supposedly found that faith schools got better results where there was competition for pupils. This isnt exactly surprising, league tables of exam results being so crucial now. Any school that needs to attract pupils has got to show it gets good results – something of a circular process.

This competition thing confirms that a lot of people aren’t sending their kids to “faith schools” because of faith.

It makes me think about the concept of selling your soul. Parents are selling their children’s souls to the highest bidder – the religion that can offer the best GCSE and A level results wins the prize. These must be the cheapest Faustian deals ever recorded. Didn’t the going rate used to be lordship of the earth or eternal life or something of that magnitude?

There were two interesting paragraphs, one encouraging and one depressing.

The research is published as the ATL teachers’ union attacks faith schools for a lack of accountability – and calls for them not to “discriminate” in their admissions process.

Conservative leader David Cameron and Shadow Chancellor George Osborne have recently said they intend to send their children to faith schools – a choice also taken by Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The first paragraph indicates some opposition to the apparent increasingly widespread supportfor religious schools, in our generally pretty godfree society. The second one shows how politicians – who can certainly afford to send their children to the most sought-after secular private schools -feel that it’s a better vote – winner to choose the religious option.

They know that people resent them buying their kids a “better” education. So they don’t want to be seen to send their kids to Eton any more. But, they are not going to risk their precious little Cressidas and Julians in the target-driven qualification factories that all parties are keen to turn state schools into. The faith school thing gets them off the hook, plus it hints at hidden depths of religious belief and morality.

That is, they are painting themselves of people of such deep faith that they won’t risk their children’s moral upbringing in non-religious state or private schools.

They must feel that this will make us trust them more.

It just makes them look even shadier and more hypocritical.

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