I live in Bradford.
September 5, 2001 4:56 AM   Subscribe

I live in Bradford. This summer we had a series of riots which tarnished the image of a city which, whilst I might love the place, didn't exactly have a sparkling reputation in the first place. A major reason cited for the riots was the devisiveness in the local community of schools that cater only to one community, typically of course the community in which any given school happens to reside. The UK government today announced that it would be basing the future of British schools on the successes of the Bradford model. The future is single faith schools.

When I was 13 and choosing which lessons I was to take from that point up until I was 16 I made all the wrong choices, had others imposed upon me, and screwed up pretty badly ending up leaving at 15 with no qualifications at all (this is why I write '15' instead of 'fifteen' BTW). The future is also, apparantly, specialisation.

posted by vbfg (21 comments total)

I don't come from a racially divided area yet even I remember thinking Christine Moran from down the road was a fleabag, as we used to call unpopular kids, because she had to go to the Catholic school while I went to one of those 'bog standard' comprehensives.

I personally think religion should be totally removed from education, and it mostly was when schools had one half-hearted religious assembly every week. It seems the government is happy to do anything to get pass rates up and damn the social consequences.
posted by Summer at 5:15 AM on September 5, 2001

Since Devolution, the UK government cannot draft legislation for the Scottish educational system.

You learn nowt at school?
posted by hector at 5:40 AM on September 5, 2001

Of course, I meant English rather than British. Sorry Hector. Geography is one of those things I didn't choose but later wished I had. :)
posted by vbfg at 6:34 AM on September 5, 2001

nae worries, man.
posted by hector at 6:39 AM on September 5, 2001

The British (English? British? victim... err... "graduate" of American schools here...) system is so different at higher levels than the public education system in America, it's difficult for me to compare them. On the surface though, the government appears to be (short-sightedly?) advocating these specialist schools without really taking into account that some of the schools "specialize" in segregating their students based on religion or some other cultural criteria from those that don't meet that same criteria... It's hard to imagine how this would lead to a better overall society, if kids between 14 and 19 are essentially being told, "Don't mix with those other kids, they're not [insert_group_here]."
posted by m.polo at 6:45 AM on September 5, 2001

New Model Army... yay
posted by outsider at 7:02 AM on September 5, 2001

You can't say English vbfg. What about the Welsh? You have to say 'Britain not including Scotland'. Look what happened to Anne Robinson.
posted by Summer at 7:07 AM on September 5, 2001

What about the Welsh?
posted by vbfg at 7:10 AM on September 5, 2001

Well, they'll be included in any education reforms.
posted by Summer at 7:15 AM on September 5, 2001

Seems to me the government has elected to do this because the results in the 'league tables' so beloved of ministers for single faith schools are generally better.
The problem seems to me to be that no-one has actually stopped to ask why.
I went through a Catholic education from the age of 5 to the age of 16, not because it was the closest or best school around, but because my mother is a devout Catholic (I myself lapsed the day after I left school). She would drive my sister and I to school (not as common in the '70s as it is nowadays), a round trip of 40 miles, twice a day. She invested a lot in our education because of her faith and inevitably paid more attention to what we were doing at school, becoming a governor for a few years as a result.
My point being, as it is, there are relatively few single-faith schools so the parents who send their children to them are generally more involved and care more about their children's education, both religious and academic.
Opening more single-faith schools will mean they lose their inaccesibility, the very thing which, it seems to me, makes them different.
posted by Markb at 7:57 AM on September 5, 2001

To be honest, the idea of 'single faith' schools is offensive in a public school system. If you want to go to a single faith school, it should be a private school. Taxpayers shouldn't funding schools for Christians, Muslims or Buddhists.. they should be funding schools for everyone.

While British law doesn't have any idealistic documents to refer to, such as the 'Constitution', why should the British state interfere with religion?

In many racial disputes, it is only a handful of people creating the problem. The BBC interviewed many people around Bradford at the time, and Asian and White neighbours were getting on well.

We should not be fighting pride of one's race (as seems to be the trend here), we should be fighting the retards who argue with their fists, whoever they are.
posted by wackybrit at 8:09 AM on September 5, 2001

I study history of religions. The more I go forward in my studies, the more I am convinced that the study of religion is a great way to understand a culture.

I think that study of religion (in general) should be made compulsory in any school. I'm not talking of religion as faith - but as culture.

Studying one's own religion can help one understand a lot about one's culture (studying christianity, for somebody brought up in the judeo-christian society which rules a lot of the western world today). I'm often appalled at how little "christian culture" people of my age have today - and how shallow their understanding of the impact of this religion on our everyday life and morals is. Again, to believe or not to believe is not the question here.

Studying the religion of the "other" brings about greater cross-cultural understanding, and tolerance. Tolerance. The "other" can be the "foreigner" - but the "other" can also be the inhabitant of the country you are living in, if you are the so-called foreigner.

One has to make a difference between teaching religion as an academic subject - and teaching religion as a faith.
posted by Tara at 8:33 AM on September 5, 2001

vbfg: What about the Welsh?
Summer: Well, they'll be included in any education reforms.

Not necessarily.
posted by ceiriog at 8:50 AM on September 5, 2001

Oh, beg your pardon.
posted by Summer at 9:16 AM on September 5, 2001

That's OK Summer, I meant it in a "bugger the bloody Welsh" way anyway. :)
posted by vbfg at 9:36 AM on September 5, 2001

Wackybrit is kind of right, people generally get along here in Bradford. The problem is that that is all that happens, just like everywhere else.

I work at the University in the centre of Bradford but live about four miles away on the edge of town. I walk home most nights through some of the poorest Asian parts of the city without even any hint of any kind of trouble. Why is this surprising? Well, it isn't at all really but I suppose I am a 6'2 white guy with a shaved head; I look the part even if I'm not. I stop usually for some veg' for that night's meal at one of the grocers that serve that part of the asian community alternative is the supermarket and that's like being an Albanian peasant from the veg' point of view). I'm not part of this community, I actually live on the edge of one of the 'sink estates' that are apparently in direct opposition to these areas, but I'm always welcomed when I shop there and nearly always have to manufacture reasons to escape from conversations so I can get home and cook.

This is going to turn into an anti-car rant if I'm not careful, but I have to say that most of the people who pass through this area do so in sealed metal and glass boxes completely cut off from any kind of interaction with it as a place. They also pass through it a great deal more slowly than I do on foot even though this road is on a pretty big hill. All they can do is sit there, stare and see poverty.
posted by vbfg at 10:04 AM on September 5, 2001

It's not just the faith issue - what happens in areas (like where I grew up) where there's only one major secondary school. What if it decides to specialise in one area? I was listening to someone from the govt blather on this lunchtime (R4) and they seemed claimed that schools will be the same as ever, only "even better" in the specialist area.
So why not make them even better in all areas? Because this is a way to get privatisation in via the back door...
I was proud of glorious Leicester - we must be one of the most racially varied communities in the country, but had no problems. But I don't really know why - things are pretty segregated here too. (And there's nothing wrong with anti-car rants either - I managed to make foot contact with a car going through red lights at a ped crossing today)
posted by andrew cooke at 10:14 AM on September 5, 2001

I work in a specialist school (languages being our speciality), and it does affect other areas of the curriculum. The languages block is wonderful - hi tech, clean classrooms and all mod cons. The other departments are run down and seriously need an injection of cash to improve them. As does the general fabric of the school.
posted by crustygeek at 11:38 AM on September 5, 2001

posted by andrew cooke at 2:49 PM on September 5, 2001

Didn't this get done to fucking death a while ago?
posted by leafy at 2:54 PM on September 5, 2001

The situation at Holy Cross Primary School in N. Ireland seems to be the most extreme example of the potential damage religious schools can have. By artifically dividing a community, a cycle of hatred and violence is continued.

Also current faith based schools, seem to be selection by the back door??
posted by laukf at 6:06 PM on September 5, 2001

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