The Department for Education has today released updated statistics on Free Schools approved to open in September, with four more schools approved. Two of these four, Canary Wharf College in Tower Hamlets and Etz Chaim Jewish Primary School in Mill Hill, are ‘faith’ schools, and so this latest tranche brings the number of approved ‘faith’ Free Schools up to six out of the thirteen.
Free Schools were introduced by the coalition government following the passage of the Academies Act 2010, and refer to newly opening Academies (as opposed to Academies converting from existing state-maintained schools). The first Free Schools are due to open in September.
British Humanist Association Campaigns Officer Richy Thompson commented, ‘Free Schools are entirely state-funded, but are able to discriminate on religious grounds on up to 50% of their intake, and are able to apply a religious test in appointing, promoting and remunerating all teachers and some non-teaching staff. They are not required to follow the national curriculum, can teach confessional RE and sideline Sex and Relationships Education.
‘For these reasons, the BHA have long been saying that they are extremely attractive to religious groups. As more Free Schools are approved, and the proportion with a religious ethos remains high, the evidence increasingly backs up our concerns.’
For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7462 4993.
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.