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Thursday, 22 April 2010

Time to end religious segregation in state schooling in Scotland

A controversy has arisen in Edinburgh concerning two state primary schools, one Catholic and one non-denominational. The growing size of the Catholic one has led the City Council as education authority to propose that the two schools swap buildings or form a shared wing. The non-denominational school parents are against giving up their larger school and favour the shared wing option.

The local Roman Catholic authorities are objecting to the shared facilities option because they feel that they would need it to be blessed and have holy pictures and statues in that part of the building and that this might not be acceptable to pupils and parents of the other school.

Isn't it time to end this religious segregation of state schooling in Scotland which sees 20% of primary pupils in separate Roman Catholic schools? Why should state funds support religious segregation in schools? Surely we should be encouraging our children to mix without placing religious barriers between them. Does the existence of separate state schools for one religious denomination just perpetuate old religious divisions?

Because of the furore surrounding this controversy the local authority has now decided not to go ahead with any proposals for change. Isn't this in microcosm an example of how we retain an outmoded system of schooling in Scotland today?

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