25 May 2010

 

Religious Privilege in School Transport

It is entirely at the discretion of Local Education Authorities whether they pay for ‘home to faith school transport’. That is provide a special subsidy to help children with parents of certain religions get to a school that inculcates their religion rather than attend their local school. Currently, 40% of all English Local Education Authorities (including Leicestershire) pay for such transport. This is at a total cost of £20.5M (2008/09) to the Council Tax payer.

Ninety out of one hundred and fifty-two Local Education Authorities (i.e. 60%) do not provide such transport.

The subsidy isn’t available for all children from a religious background travelling to ‘faith’ schools, nor to those of no faith, but only to a select few, whose parents follow a privileged religion and have “chosen” to send their children to a school other than their nearest allocated one.

The scheme defies logic.

How can it be right to provide transport to sectarian ‘faith schools’ but not to other schools? The County Council should not be funding/promoting and religion.

It is particularly idiosyncratic in that such transportation costs are provided predominantly for one denomination of the Christian religion, i.e. Roman Catholics. This clearly discriminates against people of other Christian denominations; other faiths and of no faith.

What possible justification can there be for granting privileges to just certain religious groups and discriminating against parents/children from other and non-religious backgrounds. Surely such a "religious preference" is essentially discriminatory and may well contravene both UK and European Law.

Removing this funding would not only save the council money, but would be treating everybody equally regardless of personally held beliefs.

If a parent decides they want their child to be introduced to the dogma of a particular religion, which requires that child to travel to a school outside their catchment area, then the responsibility for getting them to that school should lie solely with the parent. This is the case for parents who choose an alternative community school for their children for whatever reason.

It would appear that funding of this nature is a relic of a bygone era that has no place in today’s multi-cultural, multi-faith and increasingly no-faith society.

Let there be an immediate end to it.

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