Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Faith schools

The BBC:
Independent Muslim schools must make greater efforts to show pupils a British "common heritage", says the education watchdog for England.

I saw David Bell, the watchdog in question, interviewed on Channel Four tonight. In an astute bit of questioning the interviewer, Jon Snow, asked if large numbers of girls were not receiving a proper education at these schools. Mr Bell didn't appear to deny it. Bell also said these schools had 12 to 18 months to correct this situation or lose their licences.

Now I don't like this at all. The idea of the state interfering in the relationship between parent and child is abhorrent. Do parents have the right to bring up their children in ignorance? I would cautiously say "yes". But only because "ignorance" is impossible to define. If we close a Moslem school for failing to teach girls properly, do we close the evangelical schools for teaching creationism? Ban homeschooling because it isolates children from their peers?

Whenever the state gets involved you know that there will be nasty unintended consequences. Another approach is needed.