Odious, despicable, hypocrite – those are just a few of the words that have been used to describe me since the publication of my book School Daze: Searching for Decent State Education. My sins? There are two, according to my critics.
The first is that I faked being a Christian to get my children into the local Church of England primary school. My plea: guilty. I am an atheist, but for at least two years before my son reached primary-school age I went along to the local church, along with my wife. And so it came to pass that our son got the school place.
My mitigation is this: whose fault was it that we had to go to church to get our son into the local primary school? I didn't choose the selection criteria that meant that half the places were reserved for churchgoers, thus discriminating against local families who did not follow this particular brand of religion. This was not a situation of my choosing. I went to church under duress, because that was the only way to be sure of a place, even though that school was literally the other side of the road from our house. I didn't pretend to be a Christian for several years because I wanted to offend anyone, or because I thought it was fun – I promise you it wasn't. I did it because I wanted my son to attend the local state primary school. Is that too much to ask? Read more