ABSTRACT

A number of issues emerge from the discussions so far concerning the construction of identity, securing social cohesion and accommodating freedom of religion within an educational setting. We noted earlier that new faith-based schools, such as Sikh, Muslim and other minority faith institutions, and their communities do not fit easily into existing theoretical, social or educational models. Issues of culture and identity are fluid and subject to continuing change in both their construction and their internal behaviours. Moreover, how such communities are viewed by the majority society within Britain is also subject to change as a result of events that occur both locally and globally. Examples of this at a local level have been particularly evident as a result of the so-called 'race riots' during 2001 in Bradford and Oldham. Overlapping with the international scene, there has been heightened concern about the alleged role of Muslim clerics and mosques in promoting Islamic 'fundamentalism' and acting as recruitment grounds for al-Qaida (Burke et al. 2002). Moreover, in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, it is evident that concern with illegal (and in some cases legal) immigration is impacting on negative public attitudes toward those who are culturally different (Aaronovitch 2003; Talcott 2000). The emergence of new faith-based schools, therefore, must be seen within this wider socio-political context. The development of these schools, and especially of those based on Islam, which represents a significant sociological development in England and Wales, has also raised questions concerning the nature and extent of equal opportunities today.