New rules on setting up English schools introduced by the Education Act 2011 have come into force today. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has called the changes a ‘regressive step in further entrenching favouritism enjoyed by “faith” school proposals in the school creation process’.
Where a local authority recognises a need for a new school, the changes strongly give preference to all new schools being Free Schools, whilst only allowing new local authority-run foundation and community schools to be proposed once all other options have been exhausted. However, they also make it even easier for faith groups to set up voluntary aided schools independently of any request for new schools made by the local authority. Local authorities cannot propose ‘faith’ schools, so these changes will strongly increase the likelihood that new schools will be ‘faith’ schools. And as voluntary aided ‘faith’ schools and ‘faith’ Free Schools are the two most extreme type of ‘faith’ school – able to religiously discriminate in employment, admissions and RE – these new rules will strongly increase the religiosity of many new ‘faith’ schools that are set up.
BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘These changes represent a regressive step in that they further entrench the favouritism enjoyed by “faith” school proposals in the school creation process. Already, faith-based proposals have a much easier time getting the green light, as they do not need to enter into competition. And now things are only going to get worse.
‘We will continue to campaign to expose the inequality in this area, and ultimately for a more positive reform of the law.’
For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7462 4993.
Three significant changes have been made to the rules governing how schools can be created:
Read the Education Act 2011. The new rules are being commenced by The Education Act 2011 (Commencement No. 2 and Transitional and Savings Provisions) Order 2012. Changes coming into force today include:
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.