School segregation increasing

BBC lunchtime news 14 June 2006 carried a piece about increasing
segregation of schools on ethnic lines even in towns where ethnic minority
communities are significant in numbers. The example given was Blackburn
Lancashire. Two primary schools were shown only a mile or so apart – one
has no white children and one has no black children. What caught my notice
was that the all-white school shown is a Roman Catholic primary school.
Church of England primary schools usually serve the children of their
neighbourhood and do not make family commitment to the church a major
criterion of admission. But oversubscribed church schools and in
particular Church of England secondary schools tend to operate as schools
for the children of church-goers. This is true of Ranelagh School in
Bracknell which serves the deanery of Sonning where I am area dean.
I ask the question: how well does a church’s education strategy which
includes prominently schools for churchgoers’ children serve the gospel and
promote mission based on the values of the reign of God? I have doubts that
a strategy which includes and supports such schools not only fails to
serve the gospel but actually harms the church’s witness. I believe a
Church of England strategy for education should be based firmly on a
network of schools which focus on serving the education of the most
vulnerable in society and being beacons of both community transformation
and educational excellence, offering children including those without
without church family background and those of other faiths if they wish, a
genuine experience of Christian community. In short our church school
network is the single biggest oppurtunity we have for a fresh expression of
church.

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