DfE could lose ‘millions’ under faith academies plan

The government could lose millions in contributions towards capital funding if religious groups convert their schools into academies en-masse.

Damian Hinds, the education secretary, met with representatives from major faiths this week to encourage their schools to academise. The meeting follows the disclosure last week that half of all pupils now study in an academy.

The DfE said about 4,800 faith schools were not academies. Of those, 3,000 were voluntary-aided, with a governing board controlled by a faith institution rather than the local authority.

READ MORE: Union urges Catholic school teachers to resist academy plans

However, voluntary-aided schools must pay at least 10 per cent of the capital costs of opening and running the school – a requirement that stops when it becomes an academy, the DfE confirmed.

Now the Accord Coalition, a cross-faith group that campaigns against religious selection, said this meant this “long-standing contribution from them” would be lost. It could amount to millions of pounds over time.

The Rev Stephen Terry, chair of Accord, said the government should not be “further subsidising religious discrimination”, but should make sure schools brought pupils from different backgrounds together.

Hinds met representatives from the Catholic church, Church of England and Methodist church, and Muslim, Sikh, Jewish and Hindu faiths on Tuesday to talk about the “benefits” of academisation.

Hinds said faith schools had “led the way” on academisation and called for “even more” to enjoy the greater “freedom and autonomy”.

The maintenance contribution hardly registers on a school’s decision to become an academy

Paul Barber, director of the Catholic Education Service (CES), said he welcomed Hinds’ support for Catholic dioceses and their academisation plans.

About a quarter of Catholic schools were academies (517); the rest were voluntary-aided.

A CES spokesperson said their 10 per cent maintenance contribution was “relatively small”, so “hardly registers on a school’s decision to become an academy”.

Trust leaders Hamid Patel of Star Academy Trust, Nitesh Gor of Avanti Schools Trust and Dr Brinder Mohan Singh of Nishkam School Trust also attended the meeting.

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  1. Mervyn Benford

    Scrapping existing exams is now needed as employers such as PWC and Deloitte and others are now disowning academic outcomes- as presently understood- when recruiting. Employers and their organizations have long been critical of the practical abilities of those passing conventional exams- complaining we do not produce enough who can think for themselves, make decisions, take responsibility, work together and solve problems- school exams are all about university entry and that itself is now being seen with critical eyes. It will also end the half century or more of flawed marking of exam papers as no less than the Institute for Fiscal Studies noted a few years ago, stating no pupil test data was valid unless standardized for month of birth on test day- just not done except in statistically professional commercial tests many teachers once used in classrooms with tables to convert raw scores to month of birth versions. DfE investigation of a serious decades-old consequence- summer-born failure syndrome- agreed the IFS plan as the solution- admitting all others based on age of admission had failed- but said employers would not like it! Those same employers now disowning the entire system. Meanwhile its study and website also admitted 10 000 GCSE’s results were wrong every year. As Professor Mick Waters declared in 2007 our system is ‘diseased’ and ‘almost corrupt.’ In the face of AI taking over human intellect- as warned in the FT last year and evident in developments- children born today will really need those brain skills employers have not seen schools effectively developing- just to survive and find the opportunity to release latent creativity frustrated by the obligation to work. Select Committee needs to debate the change within these wider contexts.