A bit of welcome news came today that British government inspectors have forced the temporary closure of an Islamic free school over “health and safety issues.” The school promises to re-open soon.
Over the past few years, the British government has been increasingly trying to solve its broken education system through a combination of market-based reforms. Key among them have been the opening of many “free schools,” that is, fully government-funded schools that are free from the control of local authorities (locally-elected school boards).
Many of these free schools are religiously-motivated and are permitted to have discriminatory admission policies that favour students of a particular faith. The system is loosely based around similar programs in Alberta and BC where independent schools receive a certain amount of government funding.
The British Humanist Association’s Fair Admission Campaign has highlighted that these free schools end up increasing social fragmentation and class separation, with students of higher socioeconomic standing being admitted disproportionately.