Michael Harris (Letters, 9th June) calls for the closure of all faith schools, arguing that this would be good for social cohesion and foil the radicalisation of potential terrorists. He is wrong.
I can only speak about Catholic schools, having taught in three such schools over a period of 35 years. In two of them our intake was very mixed both religiously, socially and racially – indeed far more than most state schools. State schools tend to have a smaller catchment area than Catholic schools meaning that they often lack a broad scope of social and racial backgrounds, drawing their intake from a limited area.
Hence the pupils who attend state schools will often miss out on the variety that Catholic schools offer.
I would argue, therefore, that Catholic schools do provide a rounded education lacking elsewhere. Moreover, Catholic schools offer a better level of religious education. Whilst the emphasis is placed on Catholic Christianity the religious curriculum in Catholic schools always includes one term each year at secondary level the study of another non-Christian faith – Judaism, Islam or Hinduism.
One of the major obstacles to social cohesion is the lack of knowledge and understanding of other peoples’ beliefs. Sadly, this “religious illiteracy”, as it is sometimes called, is exacerbated by the lack of religious studies in our state schools. There are some secularists who wish to banish all religious study from our education system simply because they are anti-religious.
It is a great pity because they are in danger of re-enforcing ignorance and driving a wedge between people of faith and others with no faith.
John de Waal