Proposals to allow new ‘faith’ schools to select all of their places on the basis of religion have been branded as ‘the very opposite of integration’ by the British Humanist Association (BHA) in its formal response to the consultation, which closes today.
In September, the Government published its green paper Schools that work for everyone, which proposed, among other things, to remove the current requirement that all new and existing religious free schools must keep at least half of their places open to local children, irrespective of religion or belief. Three days before the end of the consultation period, the UK Statistics Authority forced the Department for Education to amend the green paper over the ‘misleading’ figures it presents on the impact of religious selection at ‘faith’ schools.
In the time the consultation has been running, the proposal has been met with intense opposition, refuted by the evidence on the cap’s effectiveness and variously criticised by religious leaders, teachers, academics, and integration experts, not to mention an overwhelming majority of the public and parliamentarians from across the political spectrum.
The BHA’s response to the consultation states:
- On the Government’s ethnic diversity statistics: ‘Bizarrely, rather than celebrate the evident success of a policy it helped to introduce, the Government has chosen to massage the figures in a way that misleadingly presents the cap as a failure. This…champions the will of the religious lobby over the better interests of children.’
- On the integration measures proposed to replace the cap: ‘The four suggested alternatives to the 50% cap are almost entirely tokenistic and appear to be designed simply to give the illusion that the Government is interested in integration.’
- On the claims of the religious lobby: ‘The pretence of a religious objection appears to be an insidious political tactic to try to force through a policy change favourable to the Catholic Church but unpopular with the public and incredibly detrimental to integration and fairness in the education system.’
In addition to a briefing detailing the religious lobbying around the proposal, the BHA has also published a briefing setting out the figures, drawn from the Government’s own data, revealing that the 50% cap has actually significantly boosted integration in religious free schools.
BHA Director of Public Affairs and Policy Pavan Dhaliwal commented, ‘Since these divisive and discriminatory proposals were announced, every expert and every piece of evidence has demanded that the Government recognise the mistake it is making. If the consultation is worth the paper it’s written on and the Government is genuinely interested in the public’s views, it will drop its plans to remove the cap immediately and reaffirm its commitment to ensuring integration in the education system and the fair access of local families to local schools.’
For further comment or information please contact BHA Director of Public Affairs and Policy, Pavan Dhaliwal on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0773 843 5059
Read the BHA’s full response to the consultation: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016-12-12-FINAL-Schools-that-work-for-everyone-BHA-consultation-response.pdf
Read the BHA’s briefings on:
- Religious lobbying around the 50% cap on religious selection: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016-11-17-BHA-briefing-Religious-lobbying-on-50-per-cent-cap.pdf
- Impact of the 50% cap on ethnic diversity in religious free schools: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016-09-15-FINAL-Ethnic-diversity-in-religious-Free-Schools.pdf
Read the Government’s green paper, where it sets out the proposals: https://consult.education.gov.uk/school-frameworks/schools-that-work-for-everyone/supporting_documents/SCHOOLS%20THAT%20WORK%20FOR%20EVERYONE%20%20FINAL.pdf
See the BHA’s news item ‘Strong majority opposed to plans for school admissions on basis of religion’: https://humanism.org.uk/2016/11/02/strong-majority-opposed-to-plans-for-school-admissions-on-basis-of-religion/
Read the BHA’s news item ‘Exposed: Catholic hypocrisy in calls for end to restrictions on religious selection in schools’: https://humanism.org.uk/2016/09/09/exposed-catholic-hypocrisy-in-calls-for-end-to-restrictions-on-religious-selection-in-schools/
Read the BHA’s previous news item ‘International Catholic education body condemns move for more religious discrimination in school admissions’: https://humanism.org.uk/2016/11/23/catholic-international-education-office-says-its-schools-should-be-open-to-all-especially-the-poorest/
Read the BHA’s news item ‘Catholic education chief expresses doubt over religious selection proposal’: https://humanism.org.uk/2016/10/28/catholic-education-chief-expresses-doubt-over-religious-selection/
See the BHA’s news item ‘New evidence shows Government proposals to allow 100% religious selection in schools will lead to increased segregation’: https://humanism.org.uk/2016/09/30/new-evidence-shows-government-proposal-to-allow-100-religious-selection-in-schools-will-lead-to-increased-segregation/
See the BHA’s news item ‘Government publishes plans to allow full religious discrimination in school admissions’: https://humanism.org.uk/2016/09/13/government-publishes-plans-to-allow-full-religious-discrimination-in-school-admissions/
Read more about the BHA’s work on ‘faith’ schools: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/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