To all Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign supporters

Hi everyone,

To Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign supporters
On Thursday (19th Sep), Archbishop Vincent Nichols led an open air Mass to celebrate the opening of the new St. Richard Reynolds Catholic primary and secondary schools.

Archbishop’s view: As previewed in this article in the Daily Telegraph, he used the occasion to claim that “…a Catholic school contributes to social cohesion by respecting the rights of parents and by maintaining educational diversity. This parental right is enshrined in European Conventions”. The article is rather one-sided, but it does quote Jeremy explaining RISC’s objection: “Thousands of local people from all backgrounds, including some Catholics, strongly opposed this new school. That was because it has the most discriminatory type of admissions policy legally allowed.” How exclusive admissions privileging just one section of the community can contribute to social cohesion is a mystery. The Archbishop's claim about European Conventions is also misleading*. 

Council’s view: Richmond Council marked the occasion by putting out a press release "West London Receives Long-Awaited Catholic School". It includes this quote from Cllr Paul Hodgins, Cabinet Member for Schools: “Now at last Catholic families in this borough have equal opportunities for secondary education.” Apart from the fact that there are plenty of Catholic schools in West London, Cllr Hodgins knows that the new schools’ admissions policies will ensure that local Catholic families have a far wider choice of state-funded school than anyone else, and that the issue is highly controversial. Referring to “equal opportunities” in this context seems astonishingly insensitive. 

*The European Convention on Human Rights (Protocol 1, Article 2) says: “No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.”
It means that the state cannot prevent parents from educating children in line with their religion. But it does not say that the state must itself provide and finance schools to meet every “religious and philosophical conviction”, let alone that it should fund schools that discriminate against children because of their parents’ religion. If it did, then almost all the other countries in Europe would be in violation of it (England & Wales, along with Ireland and Estonia, are exceptional).

RISC Core Team