After completing a consultation, Tudor Grange Academy, a secondary school without a religious character in Solihull, has decided to adopt an admissions policy that prioritises pupils who attend a religiously selective Church of England primary school – potentially excluding others who live closer to the Academy. The British Humanist Association (BHA) previously wrote to the school to express concerns that the then proposals constitute discrimination under the Equality Act, and still has concerns now that the outcome of the consultation has been announced.
Tudor Grange converted from being a Community school to being an Academy in 2010. In 2011 it decided to sponsor a failing Church of England primary school, now called Tudor Grange Primary Academy St James, after being approached by the Diocese of Birmingham. The school also decided to affiliate with the Diocese. There was no consultation on this change. In January, Tudor Grange proposed to give priority to pupils from two Church of England primary schools, including St James, in admissions, over criteria based on catchment and distance. With respect to St James, this was justified on the basis of the secondary’s sponsorship of the primary, and was in spite of the fact that there are 14 nearer primary schools. A strong local campaign emerged against the plans, including a petition signed by over 1,100 local residents.
Now, the secondary has decided to give priority to pupils from St James (although not the other primary). In approving the plans, the school acknowledged that some respondents to the consultation had concerns about whether they constituted indirect discrimination under the Equality Act, but simply responded that ‘at a number of fundamental levels the governors did not accept the points put forward.’ The document went on to say that ‘We have no plans to make Tudor Grange Academy Solihull a faith school. We are affiliated to the Diocese of Birmingham and have very similar values.’
BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal commented, ‘We are concerned that the outcome of this consultation is that pupils living further away from Tudor Grange Academy will get priority over those living closer because they attend St James primary. If that occurs, then that might constitute indirect discrimination under the Equality Act.
‘Speaking more generally, this looks to us like a clear example of a wider policy by the Church of England to slowly gain influence and control over former community schools that are now Academies – initially by affiliating with them, before slowly increasing the religious nature of school life. We will do what we can to fight this trend, including by looking to continue to challenge this school’s new admissions policy.’
For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0773 843 5059.
Read the previous BHA news item, ‘Non-religious Academy in Solihull defers to Church in proposing faith-based admissions criteria’, 4 February 2013: http://humanism.org.uk/2013/02/04/non-religious-academy-in-solihull-defers-to-church-in-proposing-faith-based-admissions-criteria/
Read Tudor Grange’s proposed admissions policy: http://www.tudor-grange.solihull.sch.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=351:proposed-admissions-policy-2014-2015&catid=3:head-lines&Itemid=2
Read the outcome of the consultation: http://www.tudor-grange.solihull.sch.uk/images/docs/Summary%20Report%20on%20Admissions%20Determination%20-%202013.04%20Edit.pdf
Separately, St James has launched a consultation on removing any religious selection in its admissions criteria – although this change is yet to be approved and at any rate, will not filter through to the secondary’s intake until 2018. Read St James’s consultation: http://www.stjames.tgacademy.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/finalconsultation.pdf
Read the BHA’s correspondence with the Academy and Diocese: http://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/BHA-correspondence-with-Tudor-Grange-Academy-Solihull.pdf
Read Tudor Grange’s affiliation agreement with the Diocese of Birmingham: http://www.tudor-grange.solihull.sch.uk/images/docs/draftjul11.doc
Read the relevant section of the Equality Act 2010: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/85
Visit the local campaign’s Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/150736215077978/
View the petition against the plans: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/tudor-grange-admissions-policy
Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools: http://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/faith-schools/
Read the BHA’s table of types of school with a religious character: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/schools-with-a-religious-character.pdf
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.