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Religion in schools: protecting or neglecting the faithful?

Thursday 25 April at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

- £5 – £7

Faith schools, pupil prayer rooms and holy books in the classroom have all been the cause of recent controversy. What constitutes tolerance and intolerance when it comes to religion in schools? Join the AoI Education Forum for this in-person debate in central London.

Tickets cost £7 (£5 concessions) and are available via Eventbrite.

INTRODUCTION 

A High Court judgement hangs over Michaela Community School for banning ritual prayer. A Wakefield school suspended pupils for damaging a copy of the Quran. Two recent studies claim that faith schools select against poor and SEN children. Two thirds of the liberal Alliance Party in Northern Ireland want Catholic schools banned. Three years after showing pupils images of the Prophet Muhammad, a teacher in the north of England remains in hiding.

It seems undeniable that schools are a new crucible for religious and social conflict. How do we navigate between tolerance and intolerance in these disputations?

Our next Education Forum event tackles contrasting contemporary notions of pluralism and secularism and considers how they play out in schools.

How does the right of faith communities to exercise their beliefs reconcile with established wider freedoms? Should the right to pray be available to all –  even in non-religious schools? Should we defend a parent’s right to send their child to a faith school? Or is that tantamount to a defence of privilege? Have we lost sight of whether faith-based liberties impinge on secular freedoms or vice versa? Who are the liberals and illiberals here?

‘What kind of school environment could so easily be destroyed by one group of students publicly expressing their religion for a mere few minutes a day?’, asks author and teacher Nadeine Asbali. She describes the ban on Muslims praying in school as ‘a dystopian, sinister vision of multiculturalism’. Yet commentator Tim Black thinks, ‘we are witnessing not quiet displays of faith, but loud all-too-visible assertions of Muslim identitarianism … with little to do with Islam’.

Has tolerance become too abstract and impoverished to deal with concrete forms of cultural and religious difference?  What do you think: are our schools fighting an age-old battle between sacred and secular visions of society, or are they on the front line of a new culture war? 

SPEAKERS:

Khadija Khan journalist and commentator

“The culture of intolerance is growing strong in the UK. As Islamist zealots grow stronger in influence in our society a number of schools known for their secular, inclusiveness and apolitical approach have been caving into their demands one after the other.”

Adam Eljadi Media Studies teacher, NEU workplace representative and British Muslim. He speaks here in a personal capacity.

“Education has the potential to unite communities and emphasise shared values. I feel schools involved these in high profile news stories failed to engage pupils, teachers, parents and communities in dialogue which ultimately led to a breakdown in communication and community cohesion.”

Gareth Sturdy former teacher and religious affairs journalist

“Contemporary ideas of secularism and pluralism, and a lack of understanding of religion, are as much to blame as fundamentalism for the current mess we’re in. We need to re-discover the liberal meaning of tolerance if we are to deal with the religious disputes erupting in our schools today.”

CHAIR

Kevin Rooney teacher and Education Forum convenor

Details

Date:
Thursday 25 April
Time:
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Cost:
£5 – £7
Event Category:

Venue

Accent Study Centre
12 Bedford Square
London, WC1B 3JA
+ Google Map

Details

Date:
Thursday 25 April
Time:
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Cost:
£5 – £7
Event Category:

Venue

Accent Study Centre
12 Bedford Square
London, WC1B 3JA
+ Google Map