Religious schools and public money funding.

The main (in general) question: Should denominational schooling be funded directly by government (tax payers) money?

The background: There are perfectly acceptable non-denominational schools run and paid for by the state, offering free and comprehensive education (up to 18 years old) which anyone, from any background, can attend.

A Catholic perspective supports separate Catholic schools and highlights the need for the recognition of parents as the first and foremost educators of their children and also request the right to have their children educated in accordance with the beliefs of the family. This sounds a reasonable request. In reality the CCMS schools are a (minor) form of discrimination, as if they gain a good reputation as an excellent educational facility, unlike a state school you cannot choose to send you child there unless you are Catholic. Also, teachers cannot teach in the CCMS schools unless they are catholic, which is also a form of government sanctioned discrimination.

I recognise the reasons for the different approaches to education and the rights of the parents to have a choice in where to send and how to educate their children.

But should the government be having to cover the costs of a parallel system of education when a state alternative already exists?

FYI, In Northern Ireland there are two main bodies who build schools under the control of the Dept. of Education.
They are the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) and the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE).
There are also the state schools controlled directly by the Dept. of Education.

Thanks for any responses.

This is not intended to be antagonistic and I would like to say I personally have little problem with the central funding of distinct schooling bodies.
(Especially as the percentages of state to CCMS schools is almost 50/50 anyhow).
I am merely canvassing opinion as to the reasoning behind this approach, and whether you consider it justified or not.

I wonder what the differences are in the syllabus…

My daughter attends a CofE controlled primary school, my son will go there too (because it is the local school and because it is a good one according to OFSTED, not specifically because it is church-controlled) - honestly I don’t think there’s a huge difference in the academic standards; she will not be taught creationism, she will not be forced to do anything ‘religious’ - the extent of the church’s involvement appears to be one of concern and support toward the moral and ethical development of the youngsters.

I realise that this may be rather different to the sitation you are describing in NI.

As far as I recall the syllabus is the same, being set by the same ruling body, the DE.

My point on the academic side of the school was pretty moot: there will be good and bad schools (by reputation or teaching skills or area) controlled by any of CCMS, NICIE or DE.
But if the only good, consistently performing school in your area happens to be in the control of CCMS, no protestant kids will be entitled to or allowed to attend it. Nor can their parents apply to teach there.

The same issues are also being discussed in Scotland too, so its not uniquely Northern Ireland.
And the debate doesn’t really have to be specifically about Catholic schooling, that’s just the example I used as it is local to me.

BTW, I do believe the split in the schooling in NI does go a long way to widening the gap between communities locally and perpetuating the divide between local cultures. The state schools have effectively become protestant schools and due to divides in residential areas too, many children never even meet a child from a different religious background until they attend University. I think that’s sad.
I’m a firm supporter of the NICIE approach although they have almost reached capacity already with approximately 5% of the student base, IIRC.

It is my understanding that the Catholic/Protestant divide (to use the popular terms; I don’t believe that the division has a great deal to do with religious faith) is something that a large segment of the youth find ridiculous/inconvenient/repellent/outmoded, and that the division is perpetuated largely by embittered adults and insititutions (of which I suppose this would be an example).

My impression (gleaned from talking with a youth worker in a mixed project) is that the kids really don’t want all this baggage; they just want to get on with their lives and friends (regardless of religion) - if this is true, then it is substantial cause for hope.

All that really depends where you go and who you talk to. There are many areas, in both communities, where the beliefs of the parents are passed to the children with no recourse or change.
Only in the more affluent areas do the boundaries erode and people carry on with their lives outside of the spiral of inbred sectarianism. You are spot on about the religion being anything more than a title, or a pigeon-hole into which people are forced to sit. You have to list your community (religion) regardless of whether you practice or believe.

There certainly is progress in integration and acceptance each generation, but the separate schooling definitely aggravates the rift rather than helping to heal it.

Another point really is that this is not an old institution, (CCMS) having been formed in 1989 I believe.

Do you find it acceptable to fund an entirely separate educational system (in parallel to an existing one) which excludes a majority of the populace, in both work potential and attendance?

I’m hi-jacking my own thread in a direction I never considered when I posted it. ::slaps own wrist:

No, I don’t think it is acceptable, but I should qualify that because I happily fund the construction of wheelchair ramps and gender-specific public toilets.
I’m not sure where I draw the line; I see this as an arbitrary division, but I’m sure there are those that see it as absolute.