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Public urged to oppose proposed new faith school in Peterborough

Humanists UK is urging the public to oppose a new religiously selective voluntary-aided Roman Catholic school that is being proposed in Peterborough.

Humanists UK, which campaigns for an inclusive education system with no religious discrimination, is encouraging locals in Peterborough to register their opposition to the plans for Hampton Waters Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided School, a new state-funded school which will legally be able to select 100% of its pupils on faith grounds.

Peterborough City Council will announce its decision on whether the school should open after a public consultation is conducted in November. However, the Diocese of East Anglia is currently running its own six-week consultation with responses due by 20 October 2019. If successful, the school is expected to be built on the Hampton East development.

In June, a local Multi-academy Trust (MAT), the Hampton Academies Trust, which runs a number of schools in the area said that it did not agree with the proposal on the grounds that the school would have a negative impact on community cohesion, lacks public support, and is likely to prevent local children from being able to access a school place in their local area.

If approved at local level, Hampton Waters will be the first fully religiously selective school to open as a result of a new funding programme for voluntary aided (VA) schools. When the Department for Education announced in principle support for the proposal, it also said that it was supporting two undisclosed bids (both of which are faith schools) to the VA funding scheme to secure appropriate sites.

Earlier this year, the Department for Education announced a total of six new state-funded faith schools had been given the go ahead   – almost a quarter of those that will open. In addition to Hampton Waters and the undisclosed bids, this included three religious free schools (which have a 50% cap on the number of pupils they can select on faith grounds).  Humanists UK described the move as a ‘missed opportunity’ to back inclusive education.

Humanists UK’s Education Campaigns Manager Dr Ruth Wareham said: ‘We encourage as many residents of Peterborough as possible to voice their opposition to the opening of this proposed school which will be able to select all its pupils on the basis of their faith. Instead the council should only approve inclusive schools which cater to pupils from all religion and belief backgrounds and don’t divide pupils on ethnic,  socio-economic and religious lines.’

NOTES:

For more information, contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or phone 020 7324 3078.

Read more about the approval of religiously-selective state schools.

Find out more about our faith schools campaign work.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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