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Faith schools welcome 100% faith-based admissions



Faith schools have welcomed the government’s plan to remove the cap on faith-based admissions, although they will now have to prove there is demand for places at their schools from parents of other religions.

The green paper proposes that oversubscribed free schools will be able to select 100 per cent of their intake based on pupils’ religious belief, lifting the current admissions cap of 50 per cent.

However, schools now have to meet a set of criteria to gain the proposed freedoms, including showing that parents from other faiths would be happy to send a child to the school. This will have to be shown through consultation and parent signatures.

Faith schools must also establish “twinning arrangements” with other schools not of their faith, and consider setting up mixed-faith multi-academy trusts.

An independent member of a different or no faith should also be considered for the governing body, the proposals say.

The Catholic church, which said the cap stopped it opening new schools, lobbied strongly for its removal.

A spokesperson for the Catholic Education Service said the new plans meant the church could now meet parental demand for thousands of new places.

Paul Barber (pictured), director of the service, said most Catholic schools already met many of the criteria.

The Church of England, which did not oppose the cap as strongly and which has already pledged to open 125 new free schools, said it remained “committed to ensuring our schools serve the local community”.

The Revd Nigel Genders said: “Our schools are not faith schools for the faithful, they are church schools for the community. We don’t propose to change that.”

Our schools are not faith schools for the faithful, they are church schools for the community. We don’t propose to change that

But the government looks set to face a rebellion from MPs and education bodies who claim the plans will fuel “social segregation”.

Sarah Wollaston, Conservative MP for Totnes, said that she would vote against the reforms, warning of the impact of increased selection in faith schools.

She posted on Twitter: “100 per cent faith schools can have nothing to contribute to a more integrated and cohesive society.”

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association (BHA), said the proposals sent a “very damaging message: that an integrated society is not worth striving for, and that the will of the religious lobby trumps the best interests of our children and our country.

“Religiously selective schools have been shown time and time again to have a large impact on segregation on religious, ethnic, on socio-economic lines, so allowing more schools to open that are fully religiously selective will only exacerbate those problems.”

The BHA published a report last year that claimed thousands of pupils may have been unlawfully denied a place after “widespread violations” of the admissions code were found in nearly 50 religiously selective schools.

Jay Harman, education campaigns officer at the association, said: “A number if not all of faith schools . . . break the law in all sorts of ways. An increase in religious selection is likely to lead to an increase in those kinds of problems that will only damage the fair access of parents and children at those schools.”



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6 Comments

  1. Faith schools by their nature discriminate against those of other faiths. Except for CoE Voluntary Controlled schools which are under the stewardship of LAs (and are, as noted above, schools for the community, not schools for Anglicans), all other faith schools have criteria which prioritise those of the faith. Second tier is likely to be those of other recognised faiths and right at the bottom will be those with no faith.
    The new rules for faith free schools will allow such schools to select 100% of their intake from the faith. They may pay lip service to allowing in pupils from other faiths (and of no faith?), but their criteria will be set up to make this less likely.

  2. faith
    noun

    strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.

    There is a current desire for education practice to be based on evidence.
    Why is it acceptable for state schools to promote indoctrination of young minds based on spiritual conviction? Look at the Middle East for exemplars of the results of such indoctrination. We are surely moving in the wrong direction with this policy.

  3. “The BHA published a report last year that claimed thousands of pupils may have been unlawfully denied a place after “widespread violations” of the admissions code were found in nearly 50 religiously selective schools.”

    With the quotation marks this part of the item makes it sound as if these violations were merely an allegation made by the BHA. In fact, it was the Schools Admissions Adjudicator (SAJ) who found that these violations were going on in many of the examples brought to the SAJ’s attention by the BHA. So this unlawful activity by these “faith” schools has been officially confirmed, rather than being merely a “claim” made by the BHA.