November 24, 2016 22:51

My son went to JFS sixth form and enjoyed an excellent education emerging with three As at A-Level. But friends who were aware that my own religious views are somewhere between paganism and atheism, and that his mother is not dissimilar, were puzzled over the school's admission policy. My son had no religious observance whatsoever and had never been to a synagogue.

My answer - and one reflected in the Court of Appeal - was to say we'd "played the racial purity card." As we were married in a registry office, my wife proved her matrilineal credentials with her mother's civil divorce papers which showed she had been married in a synagogue.

JFS is a faith school, largely paid for by the taxpayer. It should be open to those who follow a particular set of beliefs and not to those whose accident of birth alone qualifies them under United Synagogue rules. After all, both my son and his parents could have been fervent Moslems, Christians, Hindus, Seventh Day Adventists, or humanists.

But there are always unintended consequences of legal rulings. Restricting the school to the observant would almost certainly deprive the school of much of its comprehensive nature. Students would be more homogenous, from a narrower background and those with orthodox leanings would miss out on ointeracting with the not very observant, the non-observant and even the militantly non-observant children who can now attend.

Of course, the simple answer would be to follow the French and take faith out of state education.

November 24, 2016 22:51

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