At a time when too many of Britain’s schools suffer from abysmal standards of management, teaching and discipline, it seems incredible that the Government should devote resources to harassing some of the most successful state schools in the country. The establishments in questions are faith schools, and while Tony Blair was prime minister they were largely left alone (hardly surprisingly, since Mr Blair educated his own children at one of them). But since 2007 the Government has resorted to the sort of political bullying of “elitist” schools associated with the Wilson and Callaghan administrations.
As we report today, in the last six months more than 30 faith schools, most of them Church of England or Roman Catholic, have been investigated by the Office for the Schools Adjudicators, England’s admissions watchdog. The main purpose: to make sure they do not quiz prospective parents about their faith, since this could constitute “selection”. To cite one example: Cardinal Vaughan School in west London, an excellent and diverse Catholic comprehensive, is effectively forbidden from giving preference to children from committed Catholic families because this might produce a “middle-class” bias. Matters have not been helped by politically correct Catholic education advisers and, as a result, the freedom of a faith school to define itself by its ethos has been weakened.