Secularists rattled after Labour backs faith schools

A Labour commitment to support faith schools has upset secular activists.

After Sir Keir Starmer commended faith schools and pledged that a Labour government “wouldn’t tinker” with how they were run, the National Secular Society (NSS) launched a campaign urging its supporters to try and pressure him to “think again”.

Last year, the Government rejected an attempt by secularists to include teaching on atheism in assemblies and Religious Education lessons in academies.

‘Strong bonds’

Speaking to Jewish News, the Labour leader claimed his party would “be even more supportive of faith schools” than the Conservative Government.

Starmer explained: “I think it’s good that we create strong bonds within schools, and therefore I wouldn’t tinker with the way that we run our faith schools.”

He added: “I want to promote the idea of a family of schools where we are not pitting schools against each other, not faith schools versus other schools, and actually where schools are all supporting each other.”

Following Sir Keir’s remarks, which were reported widely in the press, the NSS issued a ‘campaign alert’ claiming faith schools were ‘discriminatory’.

RE concerns

In recent weeks, a group of more than 30 MPs and Peers have urged Education Secretary Gillian Keegan to address the “critical issues facing the teaching of RE today”.

More than 30 parliamentarians wrote to the Secretary of State highlighting that while some children “are receiving a comprehensive well-taught education”, for others the teaching of RE was “tokenistic” or completely lacking.

The cross-party group included Labour Peer Lord Boateng, Sir Peter Bottomley MP, the Father of the House, and the Bishop of Durham the Rt Rev Paul Butler.

Also see:

MP calls on UN to respect UK’s Christian heritage

Govt blocks attempt to include atheism in RE

Edinburgh Council ‘hostile to faith in the public square’

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