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89% of British Sikhs think faith ethos is not an important factor in choosing a school

89% of British Sikhs think the faith ethos is not an important factor in school choice and less than half would send their child to a Sikh faith school, a new report has found.

The eighth annual British Sikh Report (BSR) surveyed 2,700 British Sikhs on a variety of different issues including faith schools and attitudes to relationships and sex education (RSE).

Less than half (42%) said they would send their child to a Sikh faith school, if one existed. Sikh women were even less likely to express the desire to send their child to a Sikh school, with just 36% saying they would do this compared to 49% of men.

Just 11% of those polled said that faith ethos is an important factor in school choice. Instead they listed educational achievement (75%), proximity to home (49%), and the range of facilities available (34%) as deciding factors. Indeed, of a list of nine potential choice factors, faith ethos came seventh, beating only sports programme and whether the school was single-sex or co-educational.

Attitudes to relationships and sex education

On the whole, British Sikhs are in favour of teaching inclusive RSE, with 85% agreeing that there should be teaching about single-parent families and 69% that these lessons should teach about families with same-sex parents. The latter figure rose to 74% amongst those aged 20-49 (the most likely to have children of school age). Women were more likely to say that same-sex relationships should be included, with 77% of those polled saying this should be the case compared to 60% of men.

British Sikhs also largely support the removal of the parental right to withdraw from sex education. 48% think parents should not have such a right, compared to 37% who think they should.

Humanists UK’s Education Campaigns Manager Dr Ruth Wareham commented: 

‘It is sometimes assumed that minority faith communities are more likely to have religiously conservative attitudes to issues such as faith schools and the school curriculum. But this report shows that most British Sikhs don’t want to send their children to Sikh schools, and most support inclusive RSE.

‘It is particularly striking to learn that the vast majority of Sikhs do not see religious ethos as an important factor in school choice and many would not choose to send their child to a faith school. It seems likely that that is because these parents want their children educated to receive a broad and balanced education alongside those from a variety of different backgrounds. This is a position many religious and non-religious parents share, but it can only be properly realised if all our schools are open, inclusive, and welcoming to all regardless of background.’

Humanists UK is currently fundraising for the salary and resourcing costs of its dedicated education campaigner. The appeal was recently launched by Humanists UK patron and children’s rights activist Alf Dubs. Supporters of Humanists UK’s vision for a fairer education system are urged to donate at www.justgiving.com/nofaithschools.

Notes:

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK’s Education Campaigns Manager Dr Ruth Wareham ruth@humanism.org.uk or phone 020 7324 3000.

Read our most recent article on Government forcing faith school on Cambridgeshire town despite local opposition.

Read Humanists UK’s Manifesto for inclusive schools.

Read our article on trust in charge of inadequate Sikh school stripped of funding.

Read more about our work on state-funded faith schools.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 100,000 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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