Dear Ms Morgan: how do faith schools tackle the issue of ‘separate lives’?

Dear Nicky Morgan

In 2011, the prime minister explained: “Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to dwell separate lives, apart from every single other and apart from the mainstream. We’ve failed to supply a vision of society to which they come to feel they want to belong.”

Even though David Cameron used the word “state” in front of “multiculturalism”, his speech was widely reported as telling us that it was the bit about living our “different cultures” that had been a disaster. Laura Kuenssberg on the BBC site wrote: “In frank language he produced abundantly clear he believes multiculturalism has failed.”

At the time, I didn’t hear anybody in government rushing to proper any ambiguity all around what the prime minister in fact said. The “vision” that teachers ought to “provide” has turned out to be the “basic British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance for these of diverse faiths and beliefs”.

I guess we’re supposed to lay to 1 side the reality that these owe plenty to universalist suggestions originating in France, the US and the United Nations rather than to some thing particularly British. The message I get here is that in education, we don’t need to bother about being historically exact. Or is talking about “values” in a universal way in itself dangerously multicultural?

Cameron’s speech came early on in this government. Subsequently, we’ve been presented free colleges. Men and women like me have opposed these on the grounds that they get in the way of offering the same educational options to all kids and can lead to the absurd situation I heard played out on Radio 4’s These days programme in which a neighborhood authority is accused of not intervening in so-named problem schools above which it has no control – as has happened in Tower Hamlets not too long ago. How useful for you that it wasn’t you getting grilled by the interviewer. And yet, in your government’s rush to create colleges managed by your workplace, it’s your workplace that encourages “state multiculturalism”, which according to Cameron prospects to us having “separate lives”, and can consequence in “Islamist extremism” and “terrorism”.

I nipped above to the “Find a free school near you” webpage at the New Schools Network internet site and identified a lot more than thirty colleges which appear to offer a culturally distinct faith ethos, regardless of whether that is dubbed Islamic, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Christian, Church of England or Catholic.

I totally concede that this is a guess – and people will correct me if I’m incorrect – but I doubt if there are many Muslims in the Jewish colleges on this checklist, nor let’s say, a lot of Catholics in the Hindu schools, or Jews in the Hindu schools … and so on. Does not that inspire folks to lead “separate lives”? When people set up totally free schools with a faith title on the board outside, don’t they have a tendency to give off a signal about who’s welcome to come inside? Why else set them up?

I gather that these days, I’m what’s identified as “ethnically Jewish”. I could set up an “ethnically Jewish” college, couldn’t I? I could agree to abide by all the problems on your site on the board outside my college I could compose “The Michael Rosen Ethnically Jewish School”. If I set this up in north London, say, I can think about that it may possibly appeal to a couple of dad and mom.

And what would I have accomplished? I would have pulled some youngsters out of colleges exactly where they had mixed with young children of many faiths, no faith, several cultures and mixed cultures. Ofsted would of program pop in to make sure I was teaching “British values” so I would consider care to not call them “universal”. Likewise, as Ofsted have instructed some rural schools lately, I’d have to teach “diversity” even as we had been practising the opposite.

As I thought some more about my ethnically Jewish school, I wondered what kind of encouragement would the state give me, even even though Cameron has warned me of the dangers of this? This time I nipped in excess of to the government’s very own website to see what kind of monetary assistance I may possibly assume from your office.

Right here I discovered that: “The secretary of state will pay grants in direction of recurrent expenditure and might pay out grants towards capital expenditure” for my totally free school. Recurrent expenditure “means any funds spent on the establishment, carry out, administration and maintenance” of my college, apart from the  capital expenditure which means expenditure on such issues as: “acquiring land and buildings” and “such other items … of a considerable or enduring nature which the secretary of state agrees are capital expenditure…” This might also contain “funding for any other costs to the academy [or cost-free school] which the secretary of state considers necessary”.

That’s very a good deal of “encouragement”. Cameron must be told.

Yours, Michael Rosen

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