New research has found that religious schools, particularly minority religious schools, are the most ethnically segregated. The findings show that the majority of Sikh, Muslim and Hindu state-funded schools have no ‘white British’ pupils at all, while the rest have only one or two at most. At the same time, most Jewish state schools have no ‘Asian’ pupils at all. By comparison, the average Muslim, Hindu and Sikh school is situated in an area where a third of the local population is ‘white British’, whereas Jewish schools are in areas where 12 percent is ‘Asian’. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has challenged the Government’s decision to fund such segregated schools, with all of the Muslim, Hindu and Sikh schools and many of the Jewish schools having opened in the last few years.
The findings are based on the most recent available data, namely January 2013 figures for school populations and the 2011 Census for local area populations. Specific findings include:
BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘On the one hand what our research shows may not seem surprising as we know that many religions have an ethnic dimension. But these findings are stark and a timely reminder of the racially segregating effects of religious schools, the division of communities that ensues, and that an expansion of such “faith” schools will only lead to racial segregation in state schools on a scale we have never seen before in this country. Just five or six years ago, these children would not have faced these barriers to growing up together, but now they are growing up apart. If the Government continues to increase the number and type of “faith” schools and while failing to take action, so will their children and their children’s children.’
Professor Ted Cantle CBE, founder of the Institute of Community Cohesion, commented, ‘In 2001 my report into the race riots pointed to the dangers of “parallel lives”, with segregated Church schools being identified as a cause. After this some changes did follow. But now we are going backwards with the increasing balkanisation of children in schools, including a large number in the same areas.
‘Exclusion of children from schools on the basis of faith or ethnicity is now becoming more and more prevalent. Children who grow up with no knowledge of others, with no friends from other backgrounds and with no understanding of other religions and ethnic groups, stand little chance of being able to challenge stereotypes and avoid prejudice.’
For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0781 55 89 636.
Local areas used for comparison are ‘Middle Super Output Areas’, which comprise of 5,000-15,000 people or roughly the same number of pupils as a secondary school.
Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/faith-schools
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.