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New school admissions framework published

The Department for Education (DfE) has today published the new School Admissions and Appeals Codes. The British Humanist Association (BHA), which responded to the consultation on the codes, believes that they ‘represent a backwards step that could lead to “faith” schools acting in even narrower ways.’

The new codes are much simplified from the old admissions and appeals codes, and some of this simplification has reduced requirements on ‘faith’ schools that could lead to make ‘faith’ schools even less inclusive. For example:

  • Previously it was a requirement that ‘Admission authorities for faith schools should consider how their particular admission arrangements impact on the communities in which they are physically based and those faith communities which they serve.’ In its response, the BHA argued that it could ‘see no justification at all for the removal of this recommendation’.
  • Previously the code stated that ‘As with all oversubscription criteria, those that are faith-based must be clear, objective and fair. Parents must easily be able to understand how the criteria will be satisfied.’ In 2010 the Chief Schools Adjudicator singled out ‘faith’ schools as excluding the poorest pupils through religious selection. In its response, the BHA argued that ‘the removal of this emphasis from the new code seems likely, if anything, to exacerbate the problem of unclear admissions requirements.’

BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘Faith-based selection of pupils is one of the biggest issues with religious schools, as it prevents parents of the wrong faith or of no faith from getting into the best schools in their area. They can also be socio-economically selective, with richer parents more likely to manipulate the system to get their pupils into the better schools in their area – in other words, going to church when they otherwise wouldn’t. The situation is so bad that even the Bishop of Oxford John Pritchard, Chair of the Church of England General Synod’s Board of Education, called last year for a limit of 10% religious selection in Church schools.

‘And yet, disappointingly, these changes to the admissions code represent a backwards step that could lead to “faith” schools acting in even narrower and more obfuscatory ways.’


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

Read the new School Admissions Code 2012:

Read The School Admissions Appeals Code 2012:

Read last year’s consultation on changes to the school admissions framework:

Read the BHA’s response:

Read the BHA’s comment upon submitting its response:

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools:

View the BHA’s table of types of school with a religious character:

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.

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