All religious schools must keep the faith – with British values

Worrying about which secondary school your kids should attend? Me too.

I am terrified that they’ll end up in the Hugo Chavez Sports Academy (Ofsted rating 1 for cultural awareness, 4 for academic achievement). Or some other similar institution in which they are enjoined to be inclusive and diverse and taught that Britain is a ghastly imperialistic nation responsible for global warming, slavery, colonialism and inequality, as per the national curriculum, while not being taught anything so reactionary as how to spell their own names or count past five.

If you doubt this, check your kid’s geography homework. Nope, it’s not about longshore drift, the cocoa bean economy of the Ivory Coast or what is the capital of Brunei. It’s about the UK and the West, especially us and big us, the US, being unspeakably foul and evil. It’s sort of the same paradigm in history, sociology, RE, English literature and probably maths and chemistry.

You may feel the same way as me and wish for your child a school that is much less inclusive, much less diverse. But what does one do, not having enough money to send the brat to board somewhere far away in an institution where buggery and arrogance are compulsory, and not being rich enough to live in the sort of places where David Cameron and Michael Gove send their kids to a — nominally — state school? (That’s the Grey Coat Hospital School, by the way. Four miles distant from where the Goves hang out. How’d they manage to swing that, then?)

Anyway, here’s an answer: why not send your child to a Muslim faith school?

As we have perhaps always known, they don’t buy into any of that arrant diversity/inclusivity/live-and-let-live rubbish. Somehow these faith schools have remained free of it — I don’t know how. Not all faith schools, mind, largely the Muslim faith schools.

This is the point; when the debate kicks off about faith schools and whether or not they’re a good thing, the secular liberals insist you can’t get rid of one brand without getting rid of all. As if the ambience of your average Church of England primary school — in which God is allowed into the classroom only in the role of a sort of trainee supply teacher who hasn’t yet been cleared by the Criminal Records Bureau — is remotely equivalent to the stuff that goes on in our madrasahs.

Credit to the Muslims: stuff the curriculum. Learn the Koran, by rote. Learn Arabic before anything else. No music. A different approach, too — I think we can say — to the education of and aspirations for girls.

Faith schools are not all the same and to suggest that they are is disingenuous. A report last week from Matthew Taylor, chairman of the Social Integration Commission, suggested that our Muslim schools were encouraging a certain separation from the rest of society, that the kids were being brought up just, y’know, slightly averse to the values to which the rest of us subscribe.

We have seen just how averse with the recent “Trojan Horse” inquiries, in which Muslim faith schools — among others — were accused of inculcating a somewhat, um, un-diverse education in their charges, and of forcing head teachers and other members of staff out of their jobs for not dressing in the required sackcloth and ashes or not being, themselves, Muslims.

There is a case for faith schools. Partly — obviously — to placate the middle classes, torn between the requirement to “pay or pray”. The liberal, secularist middle classes often choose to pray (sotto voce, fingers crossed behind their backs) because they are skint — and so the kids go to a C of E school that instils precisely the same values as the Hugo Chavez Sports Academy, but does so rather more efficiently and with a marginally more traditional nativity play at Christmas.

But not all faith schools buy into our society in quite the same way. Some do not buy into it all — and that, as we are beginning to see, is a huge problem.

Celebrate – you’re dying of cancer

Cancer is a rather lovely way to die, so we should stop spending billions of pounds trying to cure it, according to a leading British doctor. This agreeably counterintuitive notion comes from Dr Richard Smith, writing in a blog for the British Medical Journal.

His point is that the disease gives you plenty of time to prepare for death — say goodbye to loved ones, cut dissolute children out of the will, write threatening and abusive letters to prominent people you’ve always hated, etc. Whereas other modern forms of death are rather more abrupt — such as suffering a cardiac arrest while queuing for your party bucket in KFC, being beheaded by a jihadist lunatic or being eaten alive by a northerner’s pitbull.

So, when that diagnosis comes through, break out the champers. My late mother would have disagreed, I suspect — but what did she know?

Easy, UAE. It’s hardly the full Madonna

The hitherto uninteresting pop star Selena Gomez is in trouble for a display of exhibitionism in an important mosque in the United Arab Emirates. She revealed part of her ankle at the place of worship in Abu Dhabi — causing fury, snarling and a great gnashing of teeth.

Shocking, no? Just wait until Madonna gets there. She is incapable
of refraining from getting her breasts out no matter where she is — important mosque, the biscuit aisle in Tesco, you name it. There will be a third world war.

America’s purple penguin has landed

It is not always nice to be proved right. In the middle of last year I wrote about a junior school in the US that had banned the use of the word “girl” because it was gender-discriminatory (which indeed it is). Pupils should be referred to as something non-gender-discriminatory, such as “purple penguins”, the guidelines insisted.

I suggested we should guffaw loudly — and then tremble, because it’d happen here soon enough.

I expected maybe five years’ leeway but, no, a report in the UK claims a primary-school child was sanctioned and reported to the local education authority for having called a fellow pupil a “girl”. Because she was a “girl”. Gender image prejudice, apparently. Other children were reported for having described other kids as “Chinese” or “Somalian” (because they were “Chinese” or “Somalian”).

One caveat: this survey was carried out in Brighton, which is a sort of halfway house between normal society and la-la land.

Time and tide wait for the tram

The year 2015 began four minutes later in Manchester than it did in the rest of the UK. The interregnum was occasioned not by the Person from Porlock, but a Person from Salford.

A tram driver, oblivious to the fact that it was one minute to midnight and thousands of people were screeching in excitement, parked his tram in what the local council had designated the “fallout zone” of the city-centre fireworks. So they had to be delayed.

Time, then, is not quite implacable. It may try to march ever onwards, but health and safety has got its number and will intervene in its progress if any risk can be discerned.

It might be better for all of us if the health and safety industry banned time altogether: one simply does not know what, exactly, is going to happen even two minutes from now. And that, in today’s world, is unacceptable.

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