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BHA: ‘Education Bill is opportunity to end religious discrimination in schools’

The Education Bill presents an opportunity to end much of the religious discrimination taking place in state-funded schools, the British Humanist Association (BHA) has said today.

Members of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group have introduced amendments ahead of the Committee Stage of the Bill in the House of Lords, which has its first sitting today, and the BHA has briefed peers on these amendments.

Humanist peers working with the BHA have introduced a number of amendments to end existing discrimination in schools:

  • Following on from the BHA’s work this year to get compulsory collective worship repealed, an amendment has been tabled that would do so.
  • Amendments have been introduced to prevent state-funded ‘faith’ schools from religiously discriminating in admissions.
  • Following on from BHA work in 2010 in support of introducing an entitlement of all pupils – including those who attend ‘faith’ schools – to statutory Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education, including Sex and Relationships Education (SRE), an amendment has been tabled that would do this.

In addition, following on from specific concerns the BHA has been raising with proposals in the Bill, amendments have been introduced:

  • to prevent increased religious discrimination against teachers in Voluntary Controlled and Foundation schools with a religious character which have converted to Academy status;
  • to reverse reduction in scrutiny of admissions practices, including those of ‘faith’ schools;
  • to reverse the removal of the duty for Ofsted to inspect community cohesion;
  • to end the proliferation of unaccountable ‘faith’ Academies and Free Schools by removing the presumption that new schools will be of this type;
  • and to reverse an increased role for religious bodies in Academy conversion process.

BHA Faith Schools and Education Campaigns Officer Richy Thompson commented, ‘As it stands the Education Bill represents a step away from ending religious discrimination in state-funded schools. However, at the same time it presents an opportunity for humanists to call for an end to discrimination in admissions, an end to daily worship, and to ensure all pupils receive high quality SRE. We are supporting amendments that set out to make these changes.’

Notes

For further comment or information, contact Richy Thompson on 020 7462 4993.

Read the BHA’s briefing for Lords Committee Stage of the Education Bill.

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on religion and schools.

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.

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