British Education Chief Angered Many with Comments about Single Faith Schools

January 18, 2005

Source: The Guardian,2763,1392831,00.html

On January 18, 2005 The Guardian reported, "The head of the government's education watchdog prompted an angry reaction from Muslim leaders yesterday after claiming that the growth of Islamic faith schools posed a challenge to the coherence of British society.

In a deliberate intervention criticised as 'irresponsible' and 'derogatory' by senior Muslim representatives, the chief inspector of schools David Bell claimed that a traditional Islamic education did not equip Muslim children for living in modern Britain.

Diversity and acceptance of different cultures was potentially a great strength, Mr Bell claimed, but it could also undermine 'our coherence as a nation' if taken to extremes... [Bell] turned to the fast-growing independent faith school sector - which includes about 100 Muslim, 100 evangelical Christian and 50 Jewish schools, broadening his argument to say: 'Faith should not be blind. I worry that many young people are being educated in faith-based schools, with little appreciation of their wider responsibilities and obligations to British society.'"