WEDNESDAY 12 MARCH 2008
DIVERSITY OF SCHOOL PROVISION: FAITH SCHOOLS
9.30am in the Wilson Room, Portcullis House
Evidence from: Rebecca Allen, Researcher, Institute of Education, University of London; Professor Mark Halsted, Head, Department of Community and International Education, University of Huddersfield; Professor Audrey Osler, Research Professor, University of Leeds and Director, Centre for Citizenship and Human Rights Education (CCHRE); and Professor Anne West, Professor of Education Policy, and Director, Education Research Group, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
Followed by at approximately 10.45am: Evidence from: The Right Reverend Stephen Venner, The Bishop in Canterbury and Bishop of Dover; The Right Reverend Patrick O'Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster; and Peter Irvine CBE, Catholic Education Service.
The purpose of the meeting is "to examine faith schools and their place within the school system".
According to Barry Sheerman, chairman of the committee, quoted in the Observer on 30th December 2007, 'A group of bishops appear to be taking a much firmer line and I think it would be useful to call representatives of the Catholic church in front of the committee to find out what is going on,' he said.
I wonder whether the other witnesses are going to feel that they have been "summoned" in the way that I suspect Bishop O'Donoghue does?
The first group of witnesses includes two who would be described as critical of faith schools (Allen and West have recently presented research critical of what they see as segregation caused by faith schools admissions). Halstead would be characterised as supporting faith schools.
One wonders, though, whether an impartial enquiry can be chaired by someone who has gone on the record as saying that, 'It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith.'