The Guardian is reporting that Tristram Hunt has said there is a case for Ofsted to be allowed to inspect religious education in faith schools, saying schools may be exacerbating religious and ethnic segregation in English cities…
…He said: “We have particular concerns that Ofsted is not allowed to inspect religious teaching in faith schools – that seems to me to be a slightly curious situation. It is a worrying trend in terms of cultural and ethnic identification through schooling.”
Admitting that the discussion on faith schools is “hairy terrain”, Hunt said: “Our answer is making sure Ofsted inspects schools on the basis of a broad and balanced curriculum.” He said some of the state schools accused of having been taken over by hardline Sunni Muslims in Birmingham had been inspected and found technically outstanding without consideration of music, drama and arts teaching.
Hunt said the inspection in Birmingham had been too narrowly focused on the basis of literacy and numeracy rather than whether the schools were providing a broad and balanced curriculum.
“We cannot have schools as islands, either around ethnicity or religion, not cooperating or forging partnership with other schools,” he said, adding that local decisions on new schools had to take into account the need to integrate communities.
He said he understood the principle of faith schools, and that they would remain a permanent part of English education system. But he added this had to be set against Ted Cantle’s report into religious division in former mill towns in northern England, the growing divisions in terms of ethnicity and racial religious education in England’s cities, and the efforts made by Labour in Northern Ireland to break down education on the basis of faith….
Is Tristram Hunt right on this? Please let us know why/why not in the comments or via Twitter…
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