The Department for Education (DfE) has published a list of all proposals to establish Free Schools from 2014, as part of the ‘fourth wave’. The publication follows on from the British Humanist Association’s victory at the Information Tribunal in February which established that details of unsuccessful proposals must also be published. The latest figures show a decline in the number of applications from creationist groups, but an improved success rate for applications from more mainstream proposers.
The percentage of applicants that were from faith or pseudoscientific groups was this year significantly down on past years, dropping to 30% from 42% last year. However, the percentage of approved applications that were from religious or pseudoscientific groups was 28%, almost matching the percentage rejected. The disparity between the two percentages was a lot larger in previous years.
The reason for this is because the less successful religious groups – particularly creationist groups – have stopped submitting many applications, while the more established religious groups are becoming a lot more successful in getting their applications approved. For example, with regard to creationist groups, this year there was one application from the Exclusive Brethren and none from Christian Schools Trust or Accelerated Christian Education groups, all of whom have applied in large numbers in the past. Conversely, applications from the Church of England, Catholics and other Christian groups were much more likely to be successful than in the past.
Two exceptions to this trend are Muslim groups, who continue to apply and get rejected in very large numbers, and Hindu groups, who applied in large numbers for the first time this year but all failed.
BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘We are pleased that the number of applications from creationist groups has declined. However, we are concerned that some groups are becoming more successful at getting their applications approved than they were before the Free School programme. For example, almost two-thirds of Anglican applications made were given the green light this year, compared with just over two-fifths of those that were made through local competitions.
‘This year we have 28 more “faith” schools, including one which gives its religion as “general faith”, as well as another Steiner school. We will continue to work to highlight our concerns around discrimination by “faith” schools in admissions, in employment and in the curriculum, and to seek reforms so that every child’s local state school is fully inclusive of their and their parents’ beliefs.’
For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7324 3072.
View the BHA’s spreadsheet of all Free School proposals: http://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/List-of-proposed-Free-Schools.xlsx
Read the full breakdown of proposals for the latest year: http://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Number-of-religious-Free-School-proposals-in-2014.pdf
Read the breakdown for previous years: http://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Number-of-religious-Free-School-proposals-from-2011-13.pdf
Read the BHA’s analysis of previous applications: http://humanism.org.uk/2013/03/22/majority-of-identifiable-free-school-proposals-from-2011-13-were-religious/
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.