The ICM poll on faith schools which I covered yesterday has now turned up on the front page of the Guardian. The Guardian obviously highlights the finding that two thirds of people apparantly oppose faith schools – it isn’t actually that clear cut though.

The question gave people a choice of saying that they supported government funded faith schools and it was only fair that all religions were allowed them including Islam, that they supported faith schools, but not Islamic ones, or that they opposed government funded state schools entirely. In other words, it rather cleverly forced people to take into account the argument that it would be discrimatory to fund faith schools for religion A but not religion B. Faced with the choice between supporting religious discrimination, supporting government funded Islamic schools, or opposing faith schools entirely, two-thirds of people plumped for the latter.

In contrast, if ICM had asked “Do you support or oppose the government funding of Church of England and Catholic schools?” I suspect the number of people saying they opposed them would be far, far lower than 65%.
As I mentioned in my earlier post, polls that have asked people if they support faith schools without mentioning Islam, have generally produced much higher levels of support.

Neither gives a “truer” picture of public opinion, while ICM’s wording has forced respondents to consider some of the questions around faith schools and religious discrimination, the fact is that the wider public that the poll is representing probably haven’t stopped to consider those same questions.


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