Church schools will lead to segregation, warns union

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The Independent Online

A senior trade union leader has warned that government plans to increase the number of church state schools is likely to lead to greater segregation of black and white children.

A senior trade union leader has warned that government plans to increase the number of church state schools is likely to lead to greater segregation of black and white children.

Bill Morris, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union and a key Labour Party supporter, will voice reservations over the plan – expected to be confirmed in a White Paper on the future of education next month – in a TV interview to be broadcast this morning.

Speaking on BBC News 24's One to One programme, he says social policies are to blame for setting up separate racial communities in inner-city areas such as Bradford and Bolton – the scenes of rioting earlier this summer. "I think we have to examine very carefully how far we take the establishment and development of faith-based schools because inevitably what has happened is that all the children that go to certain schools are white and all the children that then go to another are black," he says. "That is no way to build a solid foundation for a multi-racial, multi-cultural society which we all believe in and we all continue to support.

"We have to find a way to provide for the religious needs of our young people within the education system rather than segregating them out."

A Green Paper on education published earlier this year called for an expansion in the number of church schools, arguing they were popular with parents and achieved good exam results.

One idea being canvassed is that faith groups could take over ailing inner-city schools in a bid to turn them round. Next month's White Paper is expected to confirm these plans.

The Church of England has already announced it aims to open 100 more secondary schools within the next decade.

However, Estelle Morris, the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, has acknowledged that ministers need to do "some serious thinking" in the wake of a report on Bradford which claimed its education system was to blame for heightening racial tension in the city. Divisions and gang rivalry were worsened by children from different ethnic groups being sent to separate schools, according to the report by Lord Ouseley, a former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality.

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