Thursday, October 26, 2006

Johnson in faith schools volte face

The Education Secretary, Alan Johnson, has tonight announced that the government's planned 'quota' for faith schools has been scrapped. The plan was to mean that faith schools would be forced to admit up to 25% to children not of that faith. However, agreement seems to have been reached with the Catholic church over a voluntary agreement, the BBC reports.

Won't they bloody learn? The Catholic church has kicked up an unseemly rumpus over the plans and the cabinet, doubtless cajoled by Blair and Kelly, announces that as they've agreed they do it voluntarily that'll be just fine. I wish my credit card companies worked like that. "Yeah, course I'll pay you back, we don't need to bother about fines and interest." Businesses involved in PFI projects also made good-will agreements over handing back percentages of profits made from renegotiating the loans they used to finance schools and hospitals. The government failed to bind them into a written agreement and low and behold none of the PFI companies paid back a ha'penny. It's enough to make you utter a few oaths and kick the cat. And I don't like cats at the best of times.

Agreements already exist with Islamic schools and the Church of England and it is hoped Jewish schools will follow. Why are these agreements deemed more desirable than legislation? Is it because in the real world the various churches involved know they can stick two fingers up to local authorities and blithely ignore it. More crucially, if these institutions are taking children from other faith and belief backgrounds, what the bloody hell is the point of them anyway.

There's little news on the announcement at present and a planned government press conference was delayed as I write, so when the full details are available, please come back tomorrow where I'm liable to be fulminating some more.

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