Vice President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews Edwin Shuker said:
“While we welcome the Clarke-Woodhead Reports on Religious Education’s endorsement of statutory Religious Education, we are concerned of the report’s overall hostility to faith schools.
“The report depicts faith schools as part of the problem rather than part of the solution to the challenge of achieving community cohesion. Giving children a strong grounding in their faith tradition does not imply any contradiction with integration and indeed gives young people a proper understanding of their faith that gives a strong sense of self and builds a resilience to extremist opinions. In addition, many Jewish schools have a strong record on promoting community cohesion, including by creating formal linking programmes with other faith and non-faith schools.
“We disagree that state should dictate the religious studies components taught by faith schools. The purpose of this diverse range of schools is to teach what different faith groups, and sub-groups within them, understand to be the will of the divine. Governments are, by definition, not competent to enter in to this area, and should limit their involvement to ensuring that teaching does not promote extremism or harm community cohesion.
“The success of faith schools is partly due to the sense of shared values and a shared purpose. The interventions in faith schools’ admissions criteria and religious studies curriculum recommended by the Clarke and Woodhead report – including reducing the number of Jewish schools where faith is a criterion for admission – risk losing this benefit.”