A group of prominent members of the Church of England have issued an open letter calling for an end to faith-based selection in Church of England schools. The letter, which is signed by clergy, MPs, and theologians, urges the Church to change its guidance on admissions and no longer allow schools to select pupils on the grounds of church attendance. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed the letter.
Arguing that the current system is open to abuse, the signatories claim that subjecting prospective pupils to a religious test disproportionately favours more affluent families and has led to an artificial increase in church attendance figures. The letter admits that whilst ‘on a superficial level’ this may be in the Church’s interest, amending the admissions guidance would allow the Church to ‘achieve a more positive standing’ in society and better serve its local communities.
BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Jay Harman commented, ‘It remains an outrage that publicly funded schools are able to discriminate against children and parents on the grounds of their religion and it’s been known for some time that such discrimination often leads to socio-economic segregation. We support the signatories of this letter in calling on the Church of England to amend its admissions guidance and we’ll certainly be urging whatever Government emerges in May to reassess the benefits of allowing schools to discriminate in this way.’
For further comment or information, please contact Jay Harman on 020 7324 3078.
Read the letter, with full list of signatories, here: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/apr/01/church-schools-admissions-policy-open-to-abuse
Read the Accord Coalition’s press release, which includes quotes from two of the signatories: http://accordcoalition.org.uk/2015/04/02/public-call-for-end-to-selection-of-pupils-by-faith-at-church-of-england-schools/
The BHA is a founding member of the Fair Admissions Campaign. ‘The Campaign wants all state-funded schools in England and Wales to be open equally to all children, without regard to religion or belief. The Campaign is supported by a wide coalition of individuals and national and local organisations. We hold diverse views on whether or not the state should fund faith schools. But we all believe that faith-based discrimination in access to schools that are funded by the taxpayer is wrong in principle and a cause of religious, ethnic, and socio-economic segregation, all of which are harmful to community cohesion. It is time it stopped.’ http://fairadmissions.org.uk/
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.