An idea for Ruth Kelly
An idea for the "Commission on Integration and Cohesion" set up by Ruth Kelly: stop dividing children up by religion. How on earth are we going to get the citizens of the future to live in an integrated, cohesive way if we have government policies that actually encourage children of different faiths to be educated separately?
I find the idea that children of one religion should go to a different school to children of another religion sick, not just divisive. Given that some faiths are also ethnic groups it is the first step on the road to apartheid.
Personally, I'd prefer that there was no role for religion allowed in any school and that faith schools were abolished. Given the difficulties of doing that when there are already CofE, RC and Jewish state schools I'd go for a compromise - all faith schools to have to admit 50% of their intake from kids not of the faith the school is linked to. The religions involved ought to welcome it as a chance to evangelise at assemblies ...
And I'd add in some busing, American-style, to ensure that where one faith or ethnicity is geographically concentrated, the kids from it get to mix at school with kids of different backgrounds. This implies some diminution of parental choice, but frankly the cohesion of society is a lot more important.
And I'd do the same to independent schools so that the rich or the religiously fanatical can't buy their kids out of growing up in a socially mixed school - I'd make it compulsory for every independent school to give 50% of their places to a mixed-ability intake from the local neighbourhood (e.g. Eton would have 50% of its intake kids from Slough on free places). The schools would either have to fund this by doubling the fees on the 50% still paying them, or be given the option of opting in 100% to the state system.