Australian Education Union president Angelo Gavrielatos says that faith based schools promote bonding but not bridging after Independent Education Union boss Chris Watt accused him of a "head high tackle" on non-government schools.
The Age reports that Mr Gavrielatos was quoted in a newspaper as saying: "Education should ameliorate rather than exacerbate social divisions ... When we start to enter the realm of educating along ethno-religious lines, that should ring some serious alarm bells for us as a society."
Independent Education Union boss Chris Watt described the comments as an extraordinary "head high tackle" on non-government schools. He said almost 40 percent of students in Australia attend ethno-religious, or faith based schools, including those of the Catholic tradition, Greek Orthodox, Jewish and Islamic schools.
"He seems to be suggesting that only public schools can deliver social cohesion and anything else is about creating different ethno-religious enclaves," Mr Watt told The Age. "It's inflammatory and divisive."
But Mr Gavrielatos said he was not backing down from his view that "public schools remain the key to a vibrant, socially cohesive multicultural Australia."
"Schooling is about not only bonding, but bridging. In private faith schools, there's certainly a lot of bonding within their communities, but there's not much bridging across communities."
Unions in clash over faith-based schooling (The Age)
Independent Education Union
Australian Education Union