The admissions procedures of some faith schools privilege middle class pupils and tacitly screen children on ability, the Office of the Schools Adjudicator, the body overseeing schools admissions practices, has reported.
The findings follow on from a report published by the organisation in November 2010 that found that some faith schools’ admissions rules discriminate against poor and immigrant children
Giving evidence to the education select committee yesterday, Chief Schools Adjudicator Dr Ian Craig informed the panel that almost one-third (45 of the 151) cases that his office ruled on last year related to faith schools that were able to set their own admissions.
Dr Craig reported ‘Some faith schools do have, we have evidence, inappropriate points systems in place that are not necessarily objective and they could relate to some sections of the community over others,’. In addition, aptitude testing, used by some faith schools in admissions procedures, was often approximate to screening on ability, Dr Craig warned.
Dr Craig’s findings are consonant with a body of academic evidence that shows how faith schools admissions processes allow them to select more academically children from more socially privileged backgrounds. Research carried out by Parliament in 2009 found that admissions procedures used by faith schools had a direct bearing on any higher attainment achieved by students attending these schools. Research by academics at the Institute of Education in 2009 found that rather than improve the quality of surrounding schools by increasing competition, selection by faith schools leads to greater social sorting and no improvement in other schools.
British Humanist Association education Campaigns Officer Jenny Pennington commented:
‘Dr Craig’s representations at yesterday’s select committee provide further evidence of how faith schools’ ability to discriminate on the basis of religion in their admissions policy consequently allows them to discriminate against some of the poorest and most marginalized groups in society.
‘The ability of the school’s adjudicator to scrutinize admissions practices has been instrumental in bringing to light the repeated examples of back door selection by faith schools. It is of great concern that the powers of the schools adjudicator are currently under threat
‘It is of vital importance that we put an end to the sanctioned discrimination carried out by faith schools and ensure fair admission for all’