Faith schools have every right to state funding

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Whether religious or secular, everybody has the right to be educated according to choice. The problem for parents is whether they send their children to the well funded state school, with its one size fits all ethos, or whether they choose the often underfunded but more tailored faith schools.

Admittedly, this is a crass generalisation of the education system as there are many other factors to be considered but it doesn’t change the truth of the situation. The idea of the government saving funds by removing state funding for faith schools is popular, but flawed. The state must represent the values and interests of all those that it represents. The notion of removing state funding from faith schools surely contradicts this. There are around 7000 faith schools in England alone, and this number is growing, suggesting that a significant number of the population continue to see a religious education as valuable in today’s society.

While secularists will surely argue that we live in a largely non-religious society, they cannot deny that supporting the removal of state funding is akin to discriminating against a minority who are religious. It is almost certain that the removal of state financial support for the majority of faith schools would result in their closure. This would, of course, leave thousands of pupils without schools and without an education. The education of these pupils would then be entirely the responsibility of the state. This would certainly cost far more than the current cost of supporting faith schools as they are at the moment. Where are the faith schools to get the funding if not from the government? It is difficult enough to get investment for businesses let alone institutions which make no profit.

Secularists and atheists believe that religions of all kinds should no longer have relevance in politics or education today. This neglects the fact that faith schools teach extremely important values such as tolerance, love and respect. State schools do not provide this and a look at inner city crime shows that our society certainly needs to be taught these values. Evidence shows that the level of bullying in faith schools is considerably less than in state schools, which demonstrates the success of teaching religious values.

Finally, faith schools that receive state funding are regulated by the government and have to meet the required standards of teaching and standards of facilities. This means that these schools cannot simply teach what they want. Although there is naturally a bias towards the religion of the school, the pupils must also be taught about other religions. It is non state funded faith schools that should be feared and be the focus of debate and criticism. The numbers of these schools are growing.They are not regulated and so teach more or less what they want. The fear is that they are teaching anti-British values which do not conform to society and hence will result in conflict in the future. This fear, of course, mostly applies to Muslim schools.

While this is in many cases ridiculous as Britain today is a multiethnic society and British values are no longer set in stone, it cannot be denied that these schools, as unregulated institutions, could easily be teaching dangerous ideas. On a more practical level the staff at these institutions do not have to be professionally qualified or even police checked as at state funded schools. The dangers of this are obvious and do not need to explained. That such a situation is allowed in today’s society is questionable considering the amount of crime committed against children which is extensively covered in the media.

State funding for faith schools must be maintained in order to provide choice and to allow children to be taught with the values that their parents want them to have. This is beneficial for society. It is better that faith schools are regulated through state funding as otherwise parents could feel it necessary to send their children to a more dangerous non-funded non-regulated faith school.

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