New statistics released today by the Department for Education show that the number and proportion of state-funded schools in England that have a religious character has continued to rise – while the number of inclusive schools has fallen. The proportion of pupils in ‘faith’ schools has also risen.
The British Humanist Association (BHA) opposes state-funded ‘faith’ schools as divisive, discriminatory in admissions and employment, and often educating students poorly in RE and PSHE. The proportion of ‘faith’ schools has risen for several years now but the new stats reveal that in 2010 the trend accelerated with regards to secondary schools.
BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘The growth in state-maintained ‘faith’ schools comes almost entirely from the increasing number of ‘faith’ Academies. The BHA has long been voicing concerns about how Academies and Free Schools have more freedom to discriminate in admissions, employment and teaching than other state-maintained schools, and hence are more attractive to religious groups. We warned that without suitable protections the government’s Academies programme would result in an increase in ‘faith’ schools and it seems that this is happening.’
The new Education Bill proposes to introduce a presumption that all new state-funded schools are Academies, or Free Schools. Mr Thompson continued, ‘Such a presumption will only compound the problem. As a result, we’re working with Peers who are trying to have the Education Bill amended to remove that presumption.’
For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7462 4993.
Read the new statistics from the Department for Education, Schools, Pupils and their Characteristics, January 2011
In particular, the number of secondary schools with a religious character has increased by 2.5% (from 616 to 631), while the number of inclusive schools has declined by 1.4% (from 2,717 to 2,679). The number of secondary pupils attending ‘faith’ schools has increased by 3.9% (by 22,050 to 587,170), while the number of pupils attending inclusive schools has declined by 0.4% (by 11,555 to 3,262,635).
Over the last five years, the number of secondary schools with a religious character has increased by 7.3% (from 588), while the number of inclusive schools has declined by 3.6% (from 2,779).
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.