Skip to content


The only mnemonics that I remember from school were the ones concerning triangles and slide rules.  Maybe rote learning was out of fashion then.


This book has loads that I’ve never heard of before.





CORRect your CORResponDENce in the DEN.



If you need to know how to spell this — here goes!
Dash In A Real Rush, Hurry Or Else Accident!



Help! Accident, EMergency — Often Ruins Routine Hospital Appointment.



It’s easy to forget the third E, but always remember
a JewELLER makes JewELLERy.

Just to confuse, Americans use jewelry and jeweler, which are spelled as they sound, but break the above rule.


License or Licence?
Practise or Practice?

A handy way to remember when to use an ‘s’ and when to use a ‘c’ is illustrated perfectly in this pithy rhyme:

S is the verb and C is the noun,

That’s the rule that runs the town.

The DVLA is licensed to issue driving licences. A doctor practises medicine at his practice.

Return to the home page

God’s Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis by Thomas Hickman

A body part that can “be seen as something the Creator doodled in an idle moment,” as Tom Hickman puts it.

Penises are manifest in skyscrapers, depicted in art and loom large in literature. They pop up on the walls of schoolyards across the world, and on the walls of temples both modern and ancient. The Greeks and Japanese rendered them on statues that stood at street corners. Hindus worship the lingam in temples across the land. Even the cross on which Jesus was hung is considered by some to be a representation of male genitalia.

Yet the penis has also been shamed into hiding through the ages. One night in 415BC, Athens’s street-corner statues were dismembered en masse. Stone penises were still causing anxiety in the late 20th century, when the Victoria and Albert Museum in London pulled out of storage a stone figleaf in case a member of the royal family wanted to see its 18-foot (5.5-metre) replica of Michelangelo’s “David”. Nothing, save the vagina, which is neither as easy nor as childishly satisfying to scrawl on a wall, manages to be so sacred and so profane at once. This paradox makes it an object of fascination. Tom Hickman, a Sussex-based writer and journalist, tells the story of its ups and downs with enthusiasm and a mostly straight face in “God’s Doodle”, a biography of what the dust jacket calls man’s “most precious ornament”.

Mr Hickman examines his subject from various angles: its physical attributes, its role in society, its vulnerabilities and the “violent mechanics” of its fundamental purpose. Referring to sources that range from parliamentary records to Howard Stern, Mr Hickman goes, like so many men have gone before, where the penis takes him, and in the process answers a number of questions. Did Shylock want to castrate Antonio in “The Merchant of Venice”? Possibly. Is ingesting semen harmful? Quite the opposite. Mr Hickman claims it could protect against breast cancer. (In fact, an urban myth.) Where does Viagra get its name? Through the fusion of “virility” and “Niagara”, as in the falls.

Divided into four broad subject areas, Hickman surveys penis size (“Few males when grown to man’s estate free themselves entirely from some preoccupation with penis size”); phallic culture (“genital oath-taking” in ancient Greece and Rome); fear of castration (15th-century treatments for gonorrhea ranged “from washing the genitals in vinegar to plunging the penis into a freshly killed chicken”); and the biology and physics of penile activity (the hypothalamus causes men to sexually scrutinize all women they see). Along the way, Hickman provides a brief history of sexual lingo, including the early Anglo-Saxon sard and the 16th-century shag (“Shakespeare favoured the variant shog”), and offers praise for the sexual prowess of 17th-century castrati (“losing testicles does not mean losing the ability to get erections and even to ejaculate”).

Some of the book is funny. Other bits make you want to cross your legs.

However, religion is heavily invested – amulets, creation myths and Shiva’s lingam. Then there is man’s (sic) dominion).

And this was a surprise: 1 Chron 29: 24 And all the sons likewise of David submitted themselves unto Solomon — Hebrew, gave, or put the hand under Solomon, that is, owned him for their king, and themselves for his subjects, and bound themselves by oath to be true to him, which they possibly did, according to the ancient ceremonial (submitted themselves—Hebrew, “put their hands under Solomon,” according to the custom still practised in the East of putting a hand under the king’s extended hand and kissing the back of it –  doesn’t hack it; Genesis 24:2 does: One day Abraham said to his oldest servant, the man in charge of his household, “Take an oath by putting your hand under my thigh.)

Kinsey found the average fellow is 6.2 inches, Masters and Johnson measured them slightly smaller again, and modern men, according to a 2002 Durex survey, are suspiciously better endowed than all generations before them. Hickman explains this mystery as “lies, damned lies, and self-measurements.”

But like anything, it’s all relative. The human penis, Hickman explains, “is four times bigger than biologically necessary.” Twice as large as chimpanzees, with whom we share 98 per cent of our DNA, possibly evolved to satisfy the human female’s preference for face-to-face sex and other creative sexual positions. But maybe not, Hickman adds, as the humbly endowed bonobo does it swinging from trees.

There are no pictures(!)


“long, short, thin, stumpy, straight, bulbous … swerved left or right or up or down, circumcised or not, smooth or as wrinkled as a Shar-Pei pup,

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a penis will do some of his thinking with it,”

Sophocles said that to have a penis is to be “chained to a madman;”

Leonardo da Vinci noted that “it remains obstinate and follows its own course.”

Playwright Joe Orton: “A man is nothing more than a life support for his penis.”

Salvador Dali, cursed with something “small, pitiful and soft.”

Woody Allen disagreed with Freud by insisting men too – especially the famously neurotic director himself – suffer from penis envy. Enrique Iglesias half-joked he wanted to launch a line of extra-small condoms

Enjoying the opposite problem, however, is crooner Frank Sinatra – so large, allegedly, that he required custom-made underpants – and comedian Milton Berle. “What a shame,” Betty Grable purred, “it’s never the handsome ones.”

Return to the home page

Good Inter Faith Relations: The Next Generation

Sport is one way into it. Also youth councils. The Tony Blair Faith Foundation has some excellent resources.

Brian Gates, as chair of the RE Council, talks about the role of schools and SACREs (SACREs’ legal constitution discriminates against non-Christian faiths – but there has never been a problem with voting for a new agreed syllabus since the voting groups were set up in 1944).

Someone suggested that pupils should not be asked to evaluate heir own faith – but whither education, being taught to think for yourself, if that is the case?

It’s online here

Return to the home page


Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

DWE 2Thomas McNulty, aged barely seventeen and having fled the Great Famine in Ireland, signs up for the U.S. Army in the 1850s. With his brother in arms, John Cole, Thomas goes on to fight in the Indian Wars—against the Sioux and the Yurok—and, ultimately, the Civil War. Orphans of terrible hardships themselves, the men find these days to be vivid and alive, despite the horrors they see and are complicit in.

What Tom has observed among the Sioux is that men can choose to dress as squaws at home but, in battle, still be warriors. This thought becomes his guide. He feels at home in a dress but, as a soldier, follows orders even when they are treacherous, learning that there are good men and bad on any side.

Tom, John and Winona survive battlefields and atrocities, trek across America’s great plains into the agonised, villainous aftermath of the war between the states. Barry makes us understand how. Grief may freeze the heart, the body be tested to extremes, but where there’s life there’s hope, and love is what makes life worth living, a sentiment that, we are told in other reviews, links Barry’s novels across all their times and places.

There are vast open spaces and extreme weather

The world is seemingly indifferent yet the love for each other gives it some meaning.

Because we were nothing ourselves, to begin with” – is later amplified by the nightmarish tale he hears from a fellow Irishman whose passage to the New World ends with corpses floating in the bilges, immured and abandoned. “That’s why no one will talk,” reflects Thomas, feeling that what has happened is simply not accounted as a subject. “That’s because we were thought worthless. Nothing people. I guess that’s what it was. That thinking just burns through your brain for a while. Nothing but scum.”

They appear merely as two teenage soldier boys until this sentence is casually dropped in: And then we quietly fucked and then we slept.

The image of a country populated by spectral figures, devastated by conflicts that leave men “making the noises of ill-butchered cattle”, their limbs hanging by a thread, their bodies emaciated and withered, is in sharp contrast with the landscape that inspires awe in both Thomas and Barry, and which seems to demand an equal grandeur in the observer: “A vicious ruined class of man could cry at such scenes because it seems to tell him that his life is not approved.”

The descriptions are very visual- you can almost imagine it as a film.

The language is beautiful.

The book is full of questions about identity. The Indians who fight like savages one day leave food for starving soldiers the next. The kindly major leads a vicious assault on an Indian village out of revenge.

The war is reminiscent of the Old Testament command to out everything under the ban – everyone and every crop to be destroyed.

One of our members said: Having childhood memories of playing cowboys and Indians I’ve now come to see how the conquest of the American west with the dispossession of the native peoples was a crime. So I couldn’t get into the book despite its acclaim in many reviews as a good gay book read.

Another got fed up with the violence and nearly gave up three times but accepted that the violence wasn’t gratuitous.

Barry lives in County Wicklow with his wife, Alison, and their three children, Coral, Merlin and Toby. Barry has stated that Toby coming out as gay was important to the writing of Barry’s book Days Without End, and that Toby’s experiences informed the gay relationship in that book

McNulty is gay – not that the word would have meant anything in 19th-century America. That, says Barry, is one reason why the book is short: his narrator did not have the words or the notions to make it longer. McNulty falls in love with a young American man, cross-dresses and marries him. They adopt an orphaned Native American girl and build an unlikely family in Tennessee – a paradise created after the hell McNulty and his lover experience when they join the army.

Days Without End is dedicated to Barry’s son Toby – and McNulty’s sexuality is also a tribute to the teenager. “Three years ago, when he was 16 and I was doing the reading for this book, Toby was very unhappy, and when a young man is unhappy we must take note. I was desperately trying to find out what was wrong, but you can’t ask him directly. You have to be a sleuth, a kind of Sherlock Holmes of his unhappiness.”

At the time of the 2015 referendum in Ireland on same-sex marriage, Barry wrote an open letter – with his son’s permission – in support of a yes vote. “I felt I had to do something,” he says, “so I wrote to the Irish Times, which is the default action of the middle-aged Irish Catholic. I showed the letter to Toby and he just wept, which is unusual because he is a very mensch-like person.”

Later Toby was threatened on a train after kissing his boyfriend goodbye on the platform. “He was very frightened by that and it led to more unhappiness, so I thought we’re on a bit of a war footing here.” Toby discussed drag with Barry and how gay men from tough backgrounds sometimes used it as a form of empowerment. Those ideas seeped into the book, though not, Barry is at pains to point out, as a manifesto.

The character of McNulty grew out of a reference his grandfather Jack O’Hara made to a great uncle who emigrated to America to escape the famine. O’Hara, who fell out with the author over the literary airing of family secrets, is himself the mainspring of another Barry work, The Temporary Gentleman.

Barry has described his childhood as a “singular mess”. He says he and his three siblings were farmed out to relatives, which is how Barry heard the stories about the first world war, the Easter Rising and the civil war in Ireland that he has used to such effect in his novels. This obsessive winnowing of family secrets suggests a search for certainty after a childhood that had little.

DWE Quotations:

I am thinking of the days without end of my life…’

 “It was a mad world but a lucky one too, now and then”

We were two wood-shavings of humanity in a rough world

“The whole town was perishing like stray cats.”

“We were nothing. No one wanted us. Canada was a-feared of us. We were a plague. We were only rats of people. Hunger takes away what you are.”

“time was not something then we thought of as an item that possessed an ending.

We washed our shirts and trews and when we went out to get them off the bushes, they were as stiff as corpses in the cold. Some poor cows froze where they were standing like they had peered into the face of old Medusa. Men lost the wages of three years hence at cards. They bet their boots and then pled for the pity of the winner. The piss froze as it left our peckers and woe betide the man with an obstruction or hesita­tion to their shit, because soon they had a brown icicle on their arse. The whiskey continued its work of eating our livers. It was as good a life as most of us had ever knowed.

When all the bodies were in, we covered over the pits with the soil we had left, like we were putting pastry tops on two enormous pies.

John Cole’s long face, long stride. The moonlight not able to flatter him because he was ready beautiful.

we respectfully drop the men into their holes and then we cover them up with a bedding of earth and every man in due course has a mound of the same earth over him like eiderdowns in a fancy hotel.

“Hunger is a sort of fire, a furnace. I loved my father when I was a human person formerly. Then he died and I was hungry and then the ship. Then nothing. Then America. Then John Cole. John Cole was my love, all my love.”

You can rise up out of your saddle and sort of look down on yourself riding, it’s as if the stern and relentless monotony makes you die, come back to life, and die again.

“Oftentimes in America you could go stark mad from the ugliness of things. But now in the far distance we see a land begin to be suggested as if maybe a man was out there painting it with a huge brush.”

We would gladly put our hands over our ears but our muskets are raised and trained along the line of the wig­wams. We are watching for the rat-run of the survivors. There is a stretch of time as long as creation and I can hear the whizzing of the shell, a spinning piercing sound, and then it makes its familiar thud-thud and pulls at the belly of heaven and spreads its mayhem around it, the sides of wigwams torn off like faces, the violent wind of the blast toppling others flat, revealing people in various poses of surprise and horror.

Then they are pulling knives from their waists and hollering and -there is a sort of mad joyous desper­ation in it that kindles a crazy fire in the heart. We are not lovers rushing to embrace but there is a sense of terri­fying union none the less, as if courage yearns to join with courage. I cannot say otherwise. No fighter on earth as brave as a Sioux brave. They have their squaws and kindred sheltered and now at the last desperate moment they must risk all to defend them. But the shells have done terrible damage in the camp. Now I can see plain the broken bodies and the blood and the horrible butch­er shop of carnage that those bursting metal flowers have manufactured. Young girls are strewn about like the vic­tims of a terminous dance. It is as if we have stopped the human clock of the village, that’s what I were thinking.

“We worked back and forth through the milling bodies and tried to kill everything that moved in the murk,” he says. “Two, three, four fell to my thrusts, and I was astonished not to be fired on, astonished at the speed and the horror of the task, and the exhilaration of it, my heart now not racing but burning in my breast like a huge coal. I stabbed and I stabbed.”

“South don’t got uniforms, grits, or oftentimes shoes. Half of these fierce-looking bastards in bare feet. Could be denizens of a Sligo slum-house. God damn it, probably are, some of them.”

“John Cole says he loves me more than any man since the apes roamed.”

There’s a half-blind preacher in a temple called Bar-tram House and I don my best dress and me and John Cole go there and we tie the knot. Rev. Hindle he says the lovely words and John Cole kiss the bride and then it’s done and who to know. Maybe you could read it in their holy book, John Cole and Thomasina McNulty wed this day of our Lord Dec. 7th 1866. In the euphoria of war’s end we reckon a craziness is desired. God don’t mind we know because that day of deep winter is clement, clear and bright. Then as if a token of God’s favour we get a letter from Lige Magan. We been sending missives back and forth while we putting meat back on-our bones. He’s struggling with his farm. The men that his pa freed been killed by militia long since but two. His whole country ruined by war and like a waste of ghosts. The coming year lies heavy on his mind and how he to burn the land alone in January? Been set in grass six years and now it ripe for baccy. If we not otherwise engaged could we come and help him in his hour of need? He says all his cold district is a swamp of mistrust and he trusts me and John. Going to be hard years but maybe we could fed there were something to win. He got no kin but us.

“Don’t tell me a Irish is an example of civilised humanity. He may be an angel in the clothes of a devil or a devil in the clothes of an angel but either way you’re talking to two when you talk to one Irishman.”

Kill them all. Leave nothing alive. Everything was killed. Nothing left to tell the tale. Four hundred and seventy. And when the men were done killing they started to cut. They cut out the cunts of the women and stretched them on their hats. They took the little ball sacks of the boys to be dried into baccy pouches.

Let’s say my ward, my care, the product of some strange instinct deep within that does rob from injustice a shard of love. The palms of her hands like two maps of home, the lines leading homeward like old trails. Her beautiful soft hands with tapering fingers. Her touches like true words. A daughter not a daughter but who I mother best I can.

“a whole corpse gathered up into one tight fist of fear and fright.”

“no one wants to do it and everyone does it.”

“no such item as a virtuous people”

“Everything gets shot at in America, and everything good too.”

“a little kingdom…pitched up against the darkness”

“God in his farmer’s apron, scattering the great seeds of yellow brightness.”

“Time was not something then we thought of as an item that possessed an ending, but something that would go on forever…”

riding like ghosts through the spectral lands.”

“In the euphoria of war’s end we reckon a craziness is desired.”

Return to the home page

Challenge and Opportunity: Changing Patterns of Inter Faith Engagement in the UK – Inter Faith Network

CAOWhich disciplines does the study of inter faith relations need to include? I offer just a few thoughts. Clearly it needs to include theology, my own discipline. But it also needs to include history; the study of religion (which is not the same as theology); political science; literature; cultural studies; and philosophy.

we need to take into account the intra-faith dialogue. For example, the tensions inherent within Judaism are illustrated in a number of ways. The secular and religious divide is well exemplified by Isaiah Berlin saying to Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: “Please forgive me, Chief Rabbi, for I am a lapsed heretic”.

Differences within Judaism are also reflected in the tension between its traditional and liberal wings [demonstrated by theological differences over the extent to which the

Torah was divinely revealed to Moses.] This, of course, is not just true of Judaism, but also of most faith traditions. It is essential that our study of inter faith relations takes into account not only religion but also culture and peoplehood.

There was an account of how the Faith Communities’ Capacity Building Fund was spending its money. I attended this meeting, courtesy of that fund. There was advice about making bids for funding.

If you talk to us as people of faith we say that we live in a secular society. If I talk to my humanist friends they say we do not live in a secular society, that there are religious activities going on all the time and that religion informs much of our social

life, particularly in education and other areas. I think there is room, in addition to the dialogue we have amongst ourselves as people of faith, for dialogue with secularists, with humanists, with those who have non religious belief systems.

People can be inhibited from joining in dialogue because they feel they lack sufficient knowledge. But we can always learn from one another.

There were some examples of women’s initiatives, which got dealt with in more detail later.

It’s online here

Return to the home page


Women’s Inter Faith Initiatives in the UK: A Survey – Inter Faith Network

WIFAIn May 2006, the Inter Faith Network commissioned Dr Fatheena Mubarak to understake a short research project looking at the pattern of women’s inter faith initatives in the UK.

The report highlights good practice and was developed with the aim of encouraging further such initiatives.

Six broad types of women’s inter faith initiatives emerge from the questionnaire returns: free standing inter faith initiatives that have been set up by women with activities either for women only or for women and men; women’s inter faith initiatives that are a part of a larger inter faith organisation; women’s inter faith initiatives that are a part of a larger single faith organisation or initiative; women’s inter faith initiatives that are a part of a secular organisation; women’s initiatives that are not specifically inter faith in their aims; and inter faith initiatives for girls and young women within secondary and higher education.

“We are an ecumenical discussion group in Dorking, representing 6 different Christian denominations. We have been running for about 15 years and meet monthly in each other’s homes, where we share our responses to a variety of books of a spiritual nature. An article “Don’t blame my religion” that appeared in the Dorking Advertiser on July 14th 2005, after the London bombings, prompted us to seek out and eventually make contact with the local Muslim woman who wrote the article. In the words of the report we later submitted to the local press, we “wanted to meet with local Muslim women to offer them the same friendship and understanding that we had developed within our Group.” The Muslim woman and two of her friends gladly accepted our invitation to a simple lunch in the Quaker Meeting House in November 2005. This proved a very happy occasion and since then the Muslim women have come along to one of our discussion group sessions and talked to us about their lives as Muslim wives and mothers. We all agreed to continue to meet up at regular intervals to enable us to improve our understanding of each other’s faiths.”

Some respondents highlight the particular qualities they believe women possess that encourage inter faith work. These qualities were described as sociability; hospitability; ability to empathise with others; sensitivity; non-adversarial/non-confrontational approach to solution finding; good listening skills; informality; and ability to create a co-operative atmosphere. Although many men are involved in inter faith activity, some respondents saw men as being less flexible, more concerned with dogma and structure and less sensitive to the needs of others.

“Not enough women do participate in inter faith activities. I think this is because not enough women are in leadership positions in many faith traditions. Of course, women’s involvement is rising, but a much bigger voice needs to be given to them in this context.”

Muslims account for by far the largest group involved.

women from Christian backgrounds involved in inter faith activity had a tendency to be older, generally over 45 years, while women from Muslim backgrounds involved in their inter faith activity were generally younger (between 20 and 40 years).  Explanations for this included availability of time for younger and older women, the proportion of younger and older people in different communities and the ability to speak English among people from different communities.

half of the respondents described their initiatives as informal in structure and over half of the initiatives had no paid staff.

Meals are the most common activity.

Shared meditation happens. So do residential weekends.

The report is online here

Return to the home page







Faith, Identity and Belonging: Educating for Shared Citizenship – Inter Faith Network

FIABIFN has been looking at what faith traditions have to say about approaches to citizenship in a religiously plural society like our own. The bombings in London in July 2005 and the focus in their wake on tackling extremism and promoting community cohesion, have been part, but only part, of the context for work on this project which is designed to build on the work of the Network over a number of years in the area of faith and public life The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) could usefully develop further its schemes of work looking at inter faith issues and faith perspectives on citizenship and ‘belonging’ in Religious Education and Citizenship Education.  d) RE and Citizenship teachers would benefit from developing closer cooperation in drawing up schemes of work and lesson plans. There is already a degree of positive interaction but opportunities for discussion together of areas which are addressed by both disciplines remain relatively limited Single faith and mainly mono-faith schools can help their pupils engage with those of other faiths through joint projects, school ‘linking’ projects and exchange visits. Without such opportunities, many young people get little opportunity to meet pupils of other faiths and to learn the skills of interaction vital to life in a shared society.

‘Active citizenship’ is, though, not just about being nice to people, good as that is. When we work as active citizens in our communities, we must also be asking

political questions such as why some groups of people need more support of various kinds than others do and why some have particular opportunities while others do not

Multi-country careers are not uncommon today. I spent some time as a careers tutor at the beginning of my teaching career in the late 1980’s. The presumption of most young people then was that they would maybe move away to university, but most would probably come back to the area in which they had been at school.

Their parents had certainly done that; their grandparents had definitely done that. But by the time I was coming out of the classroom in the late 1990’s, doing the same kind of career work, you were beginning to have discussions with young people about not just going to Manchester to go to university, but perhaps working in France or in the United States, or in some other part of the world. That level of fluidity, that degree of integration on a global level, poses real opportunities and real challenges and we do not have the option of not meeting these. There is a dimension to global diversity and the diversity in life experiences that this gives rise to for which we need to prepare young people and which we need to embrace in thinking about Citizenship Education.

Schools are unique institutions in that they hold the largest gatherings of human beings in one place on a regular basis – larger daily than the occasional gatherings in places of worship, the work place or at leisure events.

I hate to see the issue of citizenship being compartmentalised and just given as another responsibility to the teacher of Religious Education. If a school’s ethos does not reflect the principles of citizenship and the concept is not practised by its teaching staff as well as its administration, then as was said earlier, the students will not believe in it.

What John did was to parcel the curriculum up into different areas of focus. So Literature corresponded to ‘wisdom’, Science and Technology to ‘fact’. When we do that to Religious Education, we tend to put it in the category of ‘opinion’. This implies that Science, Maths and Technology do not contain opinion and that Religious Education does not contain fact. Something has gone wrong intellectually in terms of the curriculum in British schools, where we have parcelled different areas of the curriculum into different aspects of human thought and experience in a way that is quite artificial. The concept that we have Religious Education on the one hand and a secular National Curriculum on the other is nonsense. If you look at the National Curriculum, it is anything but secular. In fact, different curriculum subject areas can look at religion and can explore religion. It is relevant both in terms of its own content, and also of its relevance to society. We need to have a very clear vision of the expansiveness of the curriculum as a whole and what it is that the curriculum is trying to produce. We need to have a much wider debate about the place of religion within the curriculum. If I am looking at the effects of the Reformation as part of history, that is not Religious Education, that is History, but nevertheless it is focusing on religion. I think that is what happens in Citizenship Education as well. I found it interesting that the Crick report, Education for Citizenship, did not quite know what to do with religion. Reading it again, I still have that feeling and think that this is somehow reflected within the Citizenship curriculum. Whilst there is certainly space within citizenship to look at different religious and social identities, this very often is not the focus of what we are doing. I think we need a broader integration of religion in the curriculum, and we need to move away from an artificial split between the religious and the secular curriculum because, in effect, we  have no secular curriculum in this country.

A survey by Professor Leslie Francis in Wales showed that nearly 50% of pupils covered by it did not believe in God. 95% of them, however, believed that Jesus was the Son of God! The survey does not tell us that many pupils do not believe in God, it tells us that they are confused

While some community or ‘state’ schools are virtually mono faith or mono cultural, many Church of England schools are in practice religiously and culturally quite diverse in terms of their pupils’ backgrounds.

Only a small percentage of Muslim children attend Muslim ‘faith’ schools. Most are in community schools. Public concern about expanding the number of faith schools often focuses on whether pupils are being taught to relate appropriately to those outside their own community. Faith schools do not automatically lead to ghetto-isation. It can be easier for pupils to develop a sense of belonging to a community within a faith school and then work outwards to involvement in the wider community. Individuals who feel at ease within their own community are more able then to reach out to others and cooperate with them.

bringing young people together to share in an activity is often more fruitful than simply shared discussion. An example is the Maimonides Foundation programme in London that brings Jewish and Muslim schoolchildren together to play football.

It’s online here

Return to the home page