Publication: Keep the faith schools?

Independent faith schools have been at the centre of a media storm in recent months, with Ed Balls ordering an Ofsted survey into whether they are meeting requirements on the moral, social, spiritual and cultural development of their pupils. Is the UK faith school model broken, or can we learn from the examples of other countries?

International Studies in Catholic Education (ISCE), a new journal from Routledge edited by Professor Gerald Grace, is a valuable resource for both the defenders of faith schools (in this case Catholic), as well as for their critics.

The article "Bridging the gap: urban Catholic schools addressing educational achievement and opportunity gaps in the United States" argues that urban Catholic schools in the USA have succeeded in improving the achievements of students from minority and lower socio-economic backgrounds, but also reports that such schools in the poorest inner-city areas in the USA are closing at an alarmingly fast rate (O'Keefe and Schoepner). In another article, however, Richard Omolade argues that Catholic schools in Nigeria "are still beyond the reach of the poor".

In stark contrast to allegations levelled at faith schools in the UK, O'Keefe and Schoepner state that Catholic schools in the USA are "committed .. to providing services for the whole child .. not only academic and spiritual development, but emotional, physical and even financial health". Bearing this in mind, is there still an important place for faith schools in the future of education?

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