Faith School Menace?

Synopsis: Richard Dawkins looks at Government funded faith schools and the effect they could have on children.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Molly Milton
48 min

Education has become

one of the most fiercely debated

political battlegrounds.

Billions of pounds of our money

are poured into schools every year.

But there's an aspect of education

that is rarely questioned,

a slow, creeping change

in the make-up of our schools -

one third are now faith schools.

I did, I converted to Catholicism.

For the sake of your child.

For the sake of my child.

If you come to our school,

we're very much open minds.

What we are trying to indoctrinate

is a view that faith matters.

Some say parents must be able to

educate their child in their faith.

Do you believe that parents

have the human right

to choose the education

for their children or not?

Others fear this is limiting

and divisive.

To separate yourself off

from the rest of humanity,

is deeply, deeply tragic.

Isn't it time for our society to

re-think what is best for children?

I want to explore the balance of

rights between a parent's right

to educate a child

in their own faith

and the children's rights

to determine their own beliefs

and approach the world

with an genuinely open mind.


One in three state schools in

our country is now a faith school,

a school with formal links

to a religion.

These schools have

extraordinary privileges.

Because, 60 years ago,

churches provided half the money

for their schools,

many were allowed to discriminate

on religious grounds

in selecting pupils

based on parents' faith

and in recruiting staff.

They could also have the freedom

to teach their own syllabus

of religious education, RE.

Today, we taxpayers fund the running

of these schools and also pay

up to 90% of the cost

of building them.

But the problem is

the churches held on

to their special powers

in their schools.

And then the Government

under Tony Blair

made a decision

that changed Britain forever.

It oversaw the foundation of over

100 new faith schools,

including Muslim, Hindu

and Sikh schools,

along with 42 academies sponsored

by Christian organisations.

A big man for a big job - Charles

Clarke's waited a long time for this.

This man was Education Secretary

under Blair.

Why did he open the floodgates?

You can say, we're only going

to keep it that you have Christian

and a tiny proportion

of other faith schools.

I think that leads you into

serious risk of discrimination,

saying it's OK to have

a Christian faith school

but, for the sake of argument,

not a Muslim faith school,

which is not acceptable, and you've

got to have the same rule for all.

I understand Charles Clarke's desire

not to discriminate

against minority religions.

I agree we need one rule for all.

But I think the Government

turned the wrong way.

It should have abolished

the faith component altogether,

not rolled out more faith schools.

You can make a logical argument

- I completely understand it,

in fact, I first was a co-author of

a pamphlet about this in 1978-

which says abolish all faith schools,

but I think you've then got to look

at how that relates

to what the population as a whole

feel about faith schools.

You wouldn't have to abolish them,

just stop supporting them

with Government money.

Well, that's the same

as abolishing them.

I mean the net effect of this

would be to close

thousands of schools.

Let the schools remain

but abolish the separation

between Catholic, Protestant...

You're saying take the money away

from the school which has that...

Yes. But the school could stay. It's

got the same buildings, teachers...

But you're taking away

90% of their revenue funding.

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Richard Dawkins

Clinton Richard Dawkins (born 26 March 1941) is an English ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and author. He is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, and was the University of Oxford's Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008. Dawkins first came to prominence with his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, which popularised the gene-centred view of evolution and introduced the term, meme. With his book The Extended Phenotype (1982), he introduced into evolutionary biology the influential concept that the phenotypic effects of a gene are not necessarily limited to an organism's body, but can stretch far into the environment. In 2006, he founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Dawkins is an atheist, and is well known for his criticism of creationism and intelligent design. In The Blind Watchmaker (1986), he argues against the watchmaker analogy, an argument for the existence of a supernatural creator based upon the complexity of living organisms. Instead, he describes evolutionary processes as analogous to a blind watchmaker in that reproduction, mutation, and selection are unguided by any designer. In The God Delusion (2006), Dawkins contends that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that religious faith is a delusion. Dawkins has been awarded many prestigious academic and writing awards and he makes regular television, radio, and Internet appearances, predominantly discussing his books, his atheism, and his ideas and opinions as a public intellectual. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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