schools, labels and level playing fields

In the primary school playground I once asked a boy what religion he belonged to: ‘Christian’ was his response. This was not good enough for me; I wanted to know more ‘Are you C of E?’ I offered – ‘I’m a Christian’ was his polite but firm response. Labels are our shorthand, they can only perform a limited purpose. The reality is that as we grow up we should be less interested in boxing people in and more interested in finding out where they’re coming from (and why that is). We should be delighted that the British Humanist Association has raised the issue through their new poster campaign, inadvertently selecting two happy looking children from a committed Christian family as their public face. Yes, we too believe that children should be allowed to grow up and choose but let’s not pretend that such a thing as neutral territory exists. The challenge for faith schools is to demonstrate that they are open to a wide range of members of the local community and to serve all on an equal basis, not simply to church members (or those trying to look like them). The challenge for non-faith aligned schools is to show that they will allow committed believers of the major faiths to contribute to their curriculum- and not assume that description by non-believers is enough.

Our confidence lies in the person of Christ and his good news, not in systems of education. We, the church, should actively engage and demonstrate with words and actions that the values of the kingdom point to the King Himself.


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