Government approves 25 new religious Free Schools

The Department for Education (DfE) has today announced the approval of 102 new Free Schools due to open from September 2014. This includes 25 new religious schools, as well as one Steiner school. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has expressed regret at the continuing increase in the number of ‘faith’ schools.

The 25 new schools include 15 schools formally designated with a religious character and ten schools with a ‘faith ethos’. The DfE are yet to publish the details of each proposal’s religion, or any details about rejected proposals – it intends to publish this information at the end of June (although the BHA is currently fighting for earlier release in the future).

However, the BHA believes it has been able to identify the religion of 24 of the 25 schools. These are listed below.

BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘We are deeply concerned to see the number of state-funded religious schools in England continue to rise. These schools are allowed to select all their teachers and up to half their pupils in the basis of their faith. They are also free to set their own curriculum, teaching from an unshared, narrow perspective that is inappropriate to some pupils.

‘Every school should be equally inclusive to all pupils and staff, regardless of religion or belief. We will continue to campaign to make this ideal the reality.’

The full list of schools:

Church of England (2):

Roman Catholic (2):

Christian (11):

Muslim (6):

  • Bolton Free School, a secondary school
  • Coventry Leadership Academy for Girls, a secondary school
  • Slough Girls’ Leadership Academy, a secondary school
  • The Birmingham Free School, a secondary school
  • The Preston Free School, a secondary school
  • Waltham Forest Leadership Academy for Girls, a secondary school

Sikh (3):

In addition, the DfE have also approved Steiner Academy Bristol, an all-through proposal. Finally, the recently announced London Design and Engineering University Technical College in Newham will be co-sponsored by the Diocese of Chelmsford, making it the first with religious sponsorship.

The BHA cannot fully guarantee the accuracy of this list but believes it to be accurate at time of writing.

Notes

For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7324 3072.

Read the Government’s announcement: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/more-than-100-free-schools-applications-approved

See the full list of proposals: http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/typesofschools/freeschools/b00222077/pre-opening

The BHA has campaigned for a full list of Free School proposals to be published, including unsuccessful proposals, along with their faith. This information was ultimately published in February for the first three years of the programme: http://humanism.org.uk/2013/03/22/majority-of-identifiable-free-school-proposals-from-2011-13-were-religious/ and will be published for the latest proposals towards the end of June.

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/faith-schools

View 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.