Earlier this week, in his Conference speech, David Cameron welcomed an initiative by the Church of England to open up their own schools to a more diverse range of pupils:
"Today, a new generation of Muslim schools is emerging. If these schools are to be British state schools, they must be part of our society, not separate from it. The Cantle Report recommended that faith schools admit a proportion of pupils from other faiths. Only this week the Church of England said it would implement this recommendation in all new church schools it creates… admitting a quarter of pupils from non-Anglican backgrounds. That is a great example of what I mean by social responsibility. The Church deciding to take responsibility for community cohesion. Society – not the state. I believe the time has come for other faith groups to show similar social responsibility. And if we are to bring our society together, then schools – all schools… must teach children that wherever they come from, if they are British citizens, they are inheritors of a British birthright."
Lord Baker of Dorking, former Education Secretary and Tory Chairman, is attempting to amend the Education and Inspections Bill so that all faith schools – including Muslim schools – are compelled to ensure that one-third of their pupils are not Muslims if they receive state funding.
The Times reports that David Cameron does not support Kenneth Baker’s amendment – preferring to encourage rather than coerce a more diverse faith based educational sector.
One key danger of Lord Baker’s amendment is that it risks sending more Muslim parents into the less regulated private schools sector. There are more than a hundred private Muslim schools in Britain – many of which receive funding from abroad – and many suspect that they make insufficient efforts to encourage integration into British society.
Related link on YourPlatform: Imtiaz Ameen is unimpressed with Jack Straw’s remarks about ‘the Muslim veil’.