A major new survey of recent research relating to the use of religious selection in faith school admissions has failed to identify any evidence supporting the Government’s proposed move to end limits on religious selection by free schools.
The report, published by the Fair Admissions Campaign, sets out the full range of evidence, information, and research on religious selection in schools admissions. Drawing on data and analysis from the last 15 years, the study explores the impact that religious discrimination in school admissions has had and continues to have on key issues such as social integration, community cohesion, pupil attainment, parental choice, and equality.
It comes in the midst of proposals announced by the Government last autumn which would see an end to the 50% cap on religious selection, which currently requires all new and existing religious free schools to leave at least half of their places equally open to local children, irrespective of religion or belief. Research published since the announcement has been overwhelming in its condemnation:
Particularly interesting is the attention drawn to the various polls that have been conducted over the last few years, demonstrating that religious selection is hugely unpopular among the population as a whole. Indeed, a poll published by the Accord Coalition in July 2017 found that four out of five people want to keep the 50% cap, including a sizeable majority of every religious group, and other polling suggests around three-quarters want to scrap faith school admissions entirely. A number of high-profile figures have also condemned the Government’s proposals, including Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman, and Conservative ‘Father of the House’ Ken Clarke MP.
Commenting on the report’s release, Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain commented, ‘This is an incredibly important and timely survey, and one that highlights the unacceptable face of schools admissions, with a number of faith schools using discriminatory criteria that are religiously questionable and socially divisive. The Government should urgently reconsider its proposals to increase such division in the education system in light of these findings.’
Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson added, ‘Discussions about faith schools and religious selection are often unhelpfully coloured by personal anecdote and fixed allegiance, so what this report aims to do is provide a “one-stop-shop” of reliable information in this area. We hope this will encourage a more informed debate, and more informed policy-making too.’
For further information, please contact Jay Harman on 020 7324 3078 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The report is available at: http://fairadmissions.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/2017-08-29-FINAL-Religious-Selection-Research-Survey.pdf
The Fair Admissions 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.
Supporters of the campaign include the Accord Coalition, Humanists UK, Professor Ted Cantle and the iCoCo Foundation, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the Campaign for State Education, the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, the Christian think tank Ekklesia, the Hindu Academy, the Green Party, the Liberal Democrat Education Association, Liberal Youth, the Local Schools Network, Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, the Runnymede Trust, the Socialist Educational Association, and the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches.