A couple of good leaders in todays Telegraph on the above subject (www.dailytelegraph.com).
As a parent of four I took a conscious decision to send my children to so called "faith schools" - they were in actual fact "independent" schools. The reasoning behind making that decision was based on the generally poor standard of education available through the state system.
I am a Scot and went through the Scottish education system, my wife was English and went through the old dual system in England (Grammer Schools & Secondary Schools). The main difference from what I have seen is that, dating back to the time of Scotland's Reformation, Scotland has had a comprehensive system that has worked. The comprehensive system in England has never functioned as intended, mainly because the goal it endeavoured to achieve has always been political. It was a "fad" that, politically, had to be seen to work. In attempting to make it work excellence and ability were ignored in the pursuit of a mythical equality. The speed of advance of the convoy is always the speed of the slowest ship, and that has resulted in the mediocrity that is our state education system in Britain today.
Results/League tables, call them what you will, do give some indication of how effective schools are. By and large, the "independents" consistently out-perform the state schools. Mainly because they are independent and are not subject to the same degree of government interference as schools within the state system.
My sons, although not Catholic, went to a Catholic Boys School, my daughters to an Independent Girls school. Both schools took in boarders, my children attended as day pupils. The ethnic mix within both schools was fairly broad and I have certainly seen no sign of racism or intolerance based on difference of religion, either in the children or on the part of the schools. The existence of different religions in the world is a fact and all children should be taught about them in school, in a manner, and with the goal, as described by Jock Morris above. The proposal outlined in the reader's letter from The Times, quoted by the originator of this thread, I believe to be totally misguided and could well result in an increase in the lack of religious tolerance the author wishes to erradicate.
The "northern race riots" of last summer were most definitely not caused by the existance of "faith schools" in the United Kingdom and to suggest so, given the minute number of them, is patently ridiculous.
What is equally ridiculous is for the present NEW Labour Government under the control of TB (The Great Helmsman) and his spin doctors, to dictate to those "faith schools"/independent schools, who they must admit. That is exactly the type of government interference that has screwed up the state system. The independent sector is doing OK - sort the state system out - and for that to happen it requires clear direction, a lot less government interference and a great deal more goverment money.