‘Faith schools are worth fighting for’

We should celebrate faith schools as part of the UK’s Christian heritage, an author and former editor has said.

Marc Sidwell made the comments in The Daily Telegraph as a list compiled by the paper included eight faith schools in the top 20 comprehensives ranked by GCSE results.

Sidwell, a former executive editor of City AM newspaper, acknowledged that faith schools face challenges, but said a society without them would harm children.


He said he finds “the success of faith schools unsurprising”, but said some people believe that religion and “the intellectual life” cannot go together.

Such people dismiss faith schools as “divisive” and downplay their academic achievements, he said.

“This is nonsense, and it is worth fighting against such misapprehensions, especially if they come at a cost to our nation’s education.

“The reason Britain has so many Christian schools is the longstanding importance of education to our national faith”, Sidwell noted.

Secular harm

Sidwell said that although he is a Anglican, he thinks it is vital that different faiths are also able to offer education.

The reason Britain has so many Christian schools is the longstanding importance of education to our national faith

Marc Sidwell

He said that a “quest for the perpetually open mind ends by producing individuals all too ready to have their empty heads filled with the next fashionable ‘ism’ – those secular religions that have caused so much harm”.

Sidwell added that faith school freedoms must be complemented by other liberties.

This includes the right to home educate, and emphasising that “freedom of religion” also includes the right to evangelise.


Concluding that religion and intellect “are not enemies”, he said the success of faith schools seems “only reasonable” to him.

Last year, Sir Edward Leigh MP warned that faith schools are “under attack from the forces of intolerance”.

Highlighting the treatment of a number of schools by Ofsted since the introduction of new standards, Sir Edward said the education watchdog “appears to be guilty of trying to enforce a kind of state-imposed orthodoxy on certain moral and religious questions”.

Sir David Amess MP said the “vague school standards allow Ofsted to treat social conservatives as extremists”.

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