In today's Guardian, Madeleine Bunting holds forth on the merits of faith schools in her column "Faith schools can best generate the common purpose that pupils need", saying we should all support them because they get good results and an ethos "motivated around high aspirations, mutual respect and self-discipline". They have this ethos because "they can fall back on a well-known, religious narrative to which there is still considerable adherence in some form."
And why is there "considerable adherence"? Because "As the last census showed, over 70% of people in this country still describe themselves as Christian; that may not mean going to church but it may mean wanting children to grow up with broadly Christian values. For a faith school, the common values are familiar to all and easy to explain, and therein lies the possibility of a strong ethos."
While non-religious schools can achieve this, Bunting says it is harder because "Secular humanism has not found a popular ethical narrative to replace faith; parents, uncertain how to bring up their children with a sense of responsibility for others, resort to school Christianity."
Of course, Bunting's piece has attracted large numbers of online comments (142 at the time of writing). Go on, you know you want to get involved.
In partnership with religious groups, trade unions and human rights campaigners, the British Humanist Association has just launched the Accord Coalition, "calling for inclusive schools and an end to special arrangements for state funded religious schools." You can register your support for Accord by visiting the website.