Friday, November 18, 2011

Myths about Faith schools - revisited

The Archdiocese of Southwark claims that the Coloma Convent's admissions criteria discriminate against immigrants and single mothers because these, apparently, are less able to give time to volunteering in their parish.

What we never see - and never saw with the Vaughan story - is any proof of this claim. The Diocese has done no survey, no RCT, no scientific or even quasi-scientific exploration of its theory. It is a "what if" claim". It is a myth perpetuated by diocesan education officials.

Our own experience as London parishioners is that for many immigrant communities and lone parents the Church is a lifeline. It is an instant village. It is supportive and also offers many chances to be a significant, useful person in the community - and lots of "immigrants" take this opportunity. So do lots of single mothers.

It is as likely to be the wealthier 2-income families who can't seem to find the time to volunteer, in my experience.

The diocese's assumption reeks of patronising, almost racist cant. It is saying in effect that immigrants and single parents are all helpless, lazy and incompetent. A poor thanks to all the immigrant communities who have provided the muscle and volunteer power for centuries for the Catholic Church in England and Wales; fed it with priests, servers, committee members, children's liturgy leaders, tea-makers, flower-arrangers, church cleaners; filled its pews while the more established locals faded away.

The other claim, that non-English speakers would not be able to explain themselves in written form, is an own goal. In a face to face interview it is easier for an admissions officer to make a judgement about the genuineness of an applicant who is not fluent in English. This was precisely the reason why face to face interviews were used at the Vaughan. The same face to face interviews which were STOPPED by the Archdiocese of Westminster, and replaced by written applications only....