After making it clear that most of us don’t actually want publicly funded religiously selective education anyway, Copson goes on to reveal their truly divisive social nature. Middle class parents simply can afford to play the system to get their children where they want them. Copson writes:
Repeated studies have shown that where there is religious selection in church-run state schools there is also social selection. A report by academics at the LSE in 2009 reaffirmed that the range of admissions criteria allowed scope for school "discretion", but social selection need not even be deliberate on the part of church-run state schools. Even the most socially progressive school will find, if its admissions criteria allow for religious selection, that it is middle-class parents with the time and the means to play the system whose children will end up attending the school. The pupils admitted to religiously selective schools are more academically able and less likely to be on free school meals than others in the area. They show all the attributes of socially selected children.It shouldn’t be forgotten either, that the basic principle that the religious, purely because of their faith, are therefore qualified to educate the youth is wrong. Of course, one does not follow the other. Neither should we ignore that faith schools provide the perfect place for subtle indoctrination.
The Bishop of Oxford has admitted that now at least 90% of schools shouldn’t be religiously selective. As Copson says the Bishop’s “statement can certainly be given at least 90% of one cheer for going further than any of his predecessors.” It’s certainly a start at the very least.
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