BBC Wiltshire on the relevance of CoE schools (22 July 2018)

BBC Wiltshire on the relevance of CoE schools (22 July 2018)

In an interview with Jonathan Fido of BBC Wiltshire I discuss how, as long as Christian schools continue to be inclusive, are still a vital part of the UK education system.

A transcript of my interview is below.

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JF: Now, Dr Stephen Curran is a former teacher and education expert and I asked him whether, Church of England schools still relevant in a more secular society.

SC: I think one of the things that we should think about is ethos. There is a Christian ethos, which is valuable to the nation. Although we don’t want to under-rate secular values and those things, I think there is a unique perspective. I think this is historical as well, because we cannot divorce ourselves from the history of our schooling. The poor, and the general population, were educated really initially by the churches and I think that’s really important historically. There’s a value in that. 

JF: I suppose the thing is, on the other side of that, you said it is historical, but some places you might have to go quite a long way if you didn’t want to send your child to a C of E school, so the choice is maybe a bit narrowed for those who do want their children to have a secular education. 

SC: Christian schools, certainly the ones I’ve worked in, and I worked in a joint Roman Catholic [and] C of E school (which was very unusual) for 3 years. I definitely felt the underpinning of the sort-of Christian ethos, but I never felt people were being forced to believe anything or being colourist in any way. I think that’s an important because the fact that Christian influence has been in schools for centuries means that there has been a sort-of evolution really in the way that that’s expressed. I think the key thing is that there is an attitude of love and care, which is not unique to Christian faith, or any other faith, but I think it sort-of underpins the ethos without necessarily pressing a message that you need to believe this or that. 

JF: What about faith schools in general. Do you think it’s a positive thing to have opening still or is this an historical thing we should leave behind. 

SC: I think certainly, on the whole, they are a positive thing. Christian schools, Roman Catholic, Anglican, have had centuries to bed in, and to integrate, and to adjust their approaches so they don’t restrict people’s freedom and people’s choice to believe or not to believe. Providing faith schools can subscribe to that. And also, they have a mix of children from all different backgrounds and Anglican and Roman Catholic schools certainly do. I don’t have any objection to that. But, if there is some kind of exclusivity, I think that’s problematic.