Are you facing the prospect of your child being unable to gain admittance to your local school, because of religious selection? Or have you had to game the system in order to get them in? Are you happy to live in a society in which children are discriminated against on these grounds, while parents feel compelled to behave in this manner?

This situation is clearly unfair, and that’s what we’re here to challenge. We are a new campaign that is supported by a wide coalition of individuals and national and local organisations, aiming to tackle the single issue of religious selection in school admissions.

You can find advice for parents and ways you can get involved in the Campaign as well as more about us and why this is an issue that urgently needs addressing.

Richmond Catholic schools: cynical conversion to Academy status

In 2011-2012, Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign (RISC) fought a battle for fair admissions at a new 150 pupil/year Catholic secondary in Twickenham. The battle ended in the High Court, where RISC and the British Humanist Association obtained a judicial review of the local council’s decision to provide a valuable site for the Voluntary Aided (VA) Catholic schools, rather than seeking applications for a Free School/Academy, which is supposed to be the default structure for new schools. That was important because new faith-based Free Schools/Academies can ‘only’ have up to 50% faith-based selection. The Diocese insisted on a VA structure because they wanted up to 100% faith-based selection, and the 50% limit does not apply to VA schools. Unfortunately the Department for Education intervened to support the Council’s position and the case was lost.

The VA schools opened in September 2013. As expected, they are over-subscribed and the secondary is effectively closed to the 90% of local children whose parents are not Catholics, even if they live across the road. It is, of course, state-funded.

RISC predicted back in 2012 that, having opened as VA in 2013, the school would convert to Academy status shortly afterwards, securing even more state money, while retaining its discriminatory admissions. It can get away with that because an existing (as opposed to new) VA school that converts to an Academy is allowed to keep its admissions policy. In fact RISC obtained under a Freedom of Information request a Department for Education document dated December 2011 implying the Diocese and the DfE planned to use this loophole all along.

That is now happening. The school is currently consulting on a proposal to switch to an academy. And the local press has picked up the issue:

RTT Catholic academy

 

Notes

For further information or comment please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7324 3072 or email info@fairadmissions.org.uk.

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, the British Humanist Association, Professor Ted Cantle and the iCoCo Foundation, the Association of Teachers and LecturersBritish 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 AssociationLiberal Youth, the Local Schools NetworkRichmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, the Runnymede Trust, the Socialist Educational Association, and the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches.

Widespread socio-economic segregation caused by religiously selective admissions revealed

The Fair Admissions Campaign (FAC) has revealed startling new insight about the extent to which selection by faith leads to greater socio-economic segregation in England’s state funded school system. The research was set out yesterday at a packed-out fringe meeting at the Labour Party autumn conference hosted by the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, the Campaign for State Education, Comprehensive Future and the Socialist Educational Association, titled ‘Is the Future Comprehensive? Schools for One Nation’.

The FAC’s research was set out by Simon Barrow, who is Co-Director of the Christian think tank Ekklesia and a Steering Group member of the Accord Coalition – both groups helped co-found the FAC last summer. He was joined on the panel of speakers by Patsy Kane, headteacher of Whalley Range High School in Manchester; the author and commentator, Owen Jones, and journalist and education campaigner, Fiona Millar. The meeting was chaired by the writer and campaigner, Melissa Benn.

Owen Jones and Simon Barrow

Owen Jones and Simon Barrow

Simon Barrow argued that pupils being educated with those from different backgrounds helped build a more connected society and that religious selection led to greater socio-economic segregation. To highlight the extent of this problem he revealed new findings from the FAC showing that while grammar schools are on average almost twice as socio-economically selective as religiously selective secondary schools, because religiously selective secondary schools are more numerous they make a greater contribution overall in making the state-funded school system more socio-economically segregated at the secondary level. The combined impact of socio-economic segregation by religious selection at the primary and secondary phases is twice that caused at grammar schools. Finally, overall, there are more state school places that are subject to religious selection in England than there are places allocated by academic ability, aptitude, or gender, or at private schools, combined.

Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar

Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar

Mr Barrow objected to children’s life chances being damaged according to their faith or belief background. He said it went against his support for equality and dignity based on his Christian beliefs, and also went against the beliefs of many other people who held differing religious and non-religious life stances. He urged the Labour Party to commit to phasing out selection by faith to state funded schools; to have Ofsted again inspect schools on their contribution towards promoting community cohesion, and to add a broad and balanced Religious Education curriculum to the National Curriculum.

Patsy Kane highlighted the tactics that some parents used to get their children into grammar schools and said academic selection of children at age 11 was not justifiable. She argued that it lowered expectations for those children that failed to gain admittance to grammar schools and could lead to siblings being split up. She said comprehensive schools were better at ensuring pupils were stretched and challenged during their schooling, and argued that society could not afford to limit the ambitions of pupils at a young age when children still had great potential to change.

Owen Jones said comprehensive education and schools moving away from selection should be an ideal found at the centre of the Labour Party. He cited a range of sources of inequality in society and labelled educational inequality as inexcusable. He urged that forms of segregation caused by schools should be tackled and described pupil selection by faith as having become a ‘scam’.

Fiona Millar argued that if the Labour Party was to create a fairer society it needed to address current forms of selection in pupil admissions. She said grammar schools caused nearby schools to have skewed intakes and led many families to ensure their children began being coached for the eleven plus up to four years in advance. She said international rankings indicated that the best school systems were ones that gave schools autonomy, employed high quality teachers and had schools with socially balanced pupil intakes. She urged that parents should be assured that comprehensive schools were fairer, but also provided a higher quality of education.

Notes

For further information or comment please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7324 3072 or email info@fairadmissions.org.uk.

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, the British Humanist Association, Professor Ted Cantle and the iCoCo Foundation, the Association of Teachers and LecturersBritish 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 AssociationLiberal Youth, the Local Schools NetworkRichmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, the Runnymede Trust, the Socialist Educational Association, and the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches.

Fair Admissions Campaign welcomes Schools Adjudicator’s decision on London Oratory School

The Fair Admissions Campaign (FAC) has today welcomed the decision taken by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) with respect to the 2014 and 2015 admissions arrangements of the London Oratory School. The case was triggered by FAC-supporting group the British Humanist Association (BHA) in April last year. The BHA reports:

The Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) has found the 2014 and 2015 admissions policies of the London Oratory School to be discriminatory on the basis of ethnicity and socio-economic background – believed to be the first time a school has been found to discriminate on both of these grounds. The wide-ranging, comprehensive decision has identified an unprecedented total of 105 areas of the school’s policy breaking the School Admissions Code (63 with respect to the 2014 policy and 42 with respect to the 2015 policy). The school was also found:

  • to be taking account of religious activities other than those permitted by its diocese,
  • to be requiring parents to practically support the Catholic Church,
  • to not have had sufficient regard to the diocesan guidance, and
  • to not be allowing children of non-religious parents to gain admission (if not oversubscribed with children of religious parents).

It has been told to stop giving priority to parents on the basis of activities such as flower-arranging and to look again at the stringency of its arrangements with respect to baptism, worship, Holy Communion and requiring Catholic primary education.

On ethnicity and socio-economic factors, the adjudicator compared the school to the 12 Catholic secondaries in neighbouring boroughs and found its intake to be less diverse. On ethnicity the adjudicator found the school to be taking disproportionately many white pupils, concluding, ‘I do not believe that the school can claim that its ethnic composition is even representative of that of the Catholic children attending schools in the part of London in which it is located. It seems to me instead that the diversity within the school is the lowest, or very nearly the lowest, of that found in all 13 schools.’

On socio-economic selection, the adjudicator concluded that ‘the data tend to support the existence of some level of social selection within the Catholic population, at least by some schools, including The London Oratory School… From the evidence which I have seen there is good reason to believe that the admission arrangements which the school uses have the effect of acting to produce at the very least a degree of social selection.’ The adjudicator concluded that ‘the arrangements unfairly disadvantage Catholic families who are less well off, in contravention of paragraph 1.8 of the Code.’ Paragraph 1.8 says ‘Admission authorities must ensure that their arrangements will not disadvantage unfairly, either directly or indirectly, a child from a particular social or racial group’.

British Humanist Association (BHA) Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘We welcome today’s wide-ranging decision by the schools adjudicator which is the most comprehensive we have ever seen. The London Oratory School is one of the ten most socio-economically selective state secondary schools in England. 6% of pupils at the school are eligible for free school meals, compared with over a third locally. It is vital that no school discriminates against any pupil on the basis of religion, ethnicity or social standing and we are glad that the school must now rewrite its admissions policy to lessen the degree of discrimination on all fronts.’

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, Chair of the Accord Coalition for inclusive education, commented, ‘Many would have expected a faith school to have followed basic religious teachings such as being fair, inclusive and not discriminating against others. To be found to have breached these values not only brings the London Oratory into disrepute, but begs the question of whether faith schools will always be divisive unless they have an admissions policy that treats all children as equal, and which should hardly be a big ask for those who preach loving your neighbour as yourself.’

Jeremy Rodell, Chair of the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, added, ‘The London Oratory’s failure to follow the Admissions Code unfairly discriminates against some Catholic parents. But addressing it should not blind us to the far greater unfairness of this high quality state-funded school effectively excluding 90% of London’s children simply because their parents are not Catholics.’

Notes

For further information or comment please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7324 3072 or email info@fairadmissions.org.uk.

The BHA complained about the school’s 2014 policy in April last year. In August the OSA issued a decision against the school, but the school threatened to judicially review this, and in January the OSA found an inconsequential error in it, deciding that it had to be quashed and redone. Today’s new decision, which also looked at the school’s 2015 policy, has again found against the school, and on a much more comprehensive basis than before.

Read the OSA’s decision: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/ADA-2410-The-London-Oratory-School-LBHF-15-July-2014.doc

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, the British Humanist Association, Professor Ted Cantle and the iCoCo Foundation, the Association of Teachers and LecturersBritish 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 AssociationLiberal Youth, the Local Schools NetworkRichmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, the Runnymede Trust, the Socialist Educational Association, and the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches.

Fair Admissions Campaign gives cautious welcome to comments from new CofE chief education officer suggesting move towards inclusivity

The Fair Admissions Campaign has cautiously welcomed comments from Nigel Genders, the incoming Chief Education Officer of the Church of England, suggesting that many new CofE schools will be fully inclusive in their admissions policies. While the moves are welcome, the Campaign has suggested that the Church needs to do more to ensure that all new schools are fully open and, more significantly, that admissions policies are similarly opened up in existing schools.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Genders has said that ‘most of the new schools that the Church of England has provided over recent years have all been entirely open admissions policies so that they would serve their local community. They have been built for that particular purpose… We’re now responding to pressure on pupil places and wanting to serve local areas with the high quality of education that our schools provide. It’s no surprise that they will become more open in their admissions policies to enable them to do so.’ Mr Genders, who becomes Chief Education Officer in September, cited four schools that opened in London last year that do not religiously select, and the fact that three more opening this September will be similarly open.

However, other new Church schools are less inclusive. Free Schools are not allowed to select more than half of their places on the basis of faith. The Fair Admissions Campaign can identify five which are fully inclusive, namely St Luke’s Church of England Primary School in Camden, St Mary’s Hampton Church of England Primary School in Richmond, Walthamstow Primary Academy, Cornerstone CofE Primary School in Hampshire and Meridian Water Primary School in Enfield are or will be fully open.

But seven CofE Free Schools select the maximum 50% permitted, namely Becket Keys Church of England School in Essex, Barrow 1618 Free School in Shropshire, the King’s School in Hove, University Cathedral Free School in Chester, Didsbury CE Free School in Manchester, St Mary’s Church of England Primary School in Ealing and Fulham Boys School. And William Perkin Church of England High School in Ealing, which opened last year with a fully inclusive admissions policy and is often cited as a success story on this front, has now moved away from inclusivity to instead give priority for some places to children attending a fully religiously selective Church primary.

Further afield, the Green School for Boys in Hounslow is also currently proposed to open, and it too wants to select 50% of pupils on the basis of faith. The Diocese of London wants all of its new schools to be fully open, so it is disappointing that four of them are not. Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign (RISC) contacted the school and Diocese about this inconsistency, and received little support from either party.

An analysis by the Campaign of the admissions policies of all Church of England secondary schools has found that just over half of places at them are not subject to religious selection criteria. But if we ignore CofE schools that are not fully in control of their own admissions policies, then under a third of places are open.

Jeremy Rodell, chair of RISC, commented, ‘Nigel Genders’ comments on inclusive admissions to new church of England Schools statement is a step in the right direction. However, in practice the church continues to set up new non-inclusive schools, such as The Green School for Boys in Hounslow, which will be 50% faith-based – the maximum allowed for a free school. And, if inclusivity is a good thing, as Nigel Genders clearly believes it is, why are dioceses apparently doing nothing to pressurise governing bodies at their schools with high levels of faith-based selection to open up and serve the whole of their communities? In Richmond & Twickenham, for example, there are several Anglican primary schools with highly discriminatory admissions policies.’

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, Chair of the Accord Coalition for inclusive education, commented, ‘Any move to make schools more inclusive is to be welcomed – especially as turning away children deemed to be of “the wrong faith” at the school-gate gives a terrible message about an “us-and-them society” to both the excluded children and to those who are admitted. But words have to be followed up with actions, and the key test is whether discrimination ceases to be associated with the admission policy of faith schools.’

BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal commented, ‘We welcome Nigel Genders’ comments that more Church of England schools will be open in their admissions policies, but would encourage the Church of England to move to also reduce religious selection in its existing schools, which comprise the vast majority of the whole. Some of these schools can be extremely selective, giving priority to pupils on the basis of activities such as flower arranging, church cleaning and so on. When the Bishop of Oxford took on the role of Chair of the Church of England Board of Education in 2011, he said he wanted no school to select more than 10% of pupils on the basis of faith. We hope that Nigel Genders will similarly advocate for much more inclusivity.’

Notes

For further information or comment please contact Paul Pettinger on 020 7324 3071 or email info@fairadmissions.org.uk.

Read Nigel Genders’ comments in The Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10890470/Selection-by-faith-axed-at-new-wave-of-Anglican-schools.html

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, the British Humanist Association, Professor Ted Cantle and the iCoCo Foundation, the Association of Teachers and LecturersBritish 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 AssociationLiberal Youth, the Local Schools NetworkRichmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, the Runnymede Trust, the Socialist Educational Association, and the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches.

Catholic schools and the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index

Yesterday Damian Hinds MP sponsored a debate in Westminster Hall in which a number of MPs quoted statistics allegedly supporting the notion that Catholic schools are more diverse in their intakes than other schools. Many of the claims made have been analysed by the Fair Admissions Campaign in two previous posts, one after Mark Hoban MP organised a similar debate in February, and a second after controversy in March over a prominent private Catholic school falling out with its diocese over plans for it to become a Free School.

However, one claim made by Mr Hoban and others yesterday was that Catholic schools take a more deprived intake, based on something called the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI).

Here we conduct fuller analysis of IDACI, and find that, if the location of different schools is taken into account, Catholic primary schools are much less likely to take pupils living in deprived areas, given the areas in which they are located; while Catholic secondary schools are perhaps slightly more likely to take pupils living in deprived areas, given the areas in which they are located – except for the very most deprived. But IDACI doesn’t take into account how deprived the pupils actually attending the schools are, just how deprived their areas are; other measures that do this find that both Catholic primary and secondary schools take significantly fewer pupils from deprived backgrounds than they should.

IDACI

IDACI measures the proportion of children in a small area (known as a lower super output area, or LSOA) that live in low income households. The Government provides a tool allowing individuals to look up, for any postcode, how deprived the area surrounding that post code is, as a rank against all other areas nationally. For example, if the tool returns a score of 0.178, then this means that the post code is in the 18% least deprived in the country.

In the debate, Mr Hinds said that ‘The proportion of children on free school meals at Catholic schools is somewhat lower on average than at other schools, and there are various explanations for that, but I do not think we know the answer conclusively. One thing that we do know conclusively is that pupils at Catholic schools tend to come from poorer places than children at schools in general. At secondary level, 17% of children at Catholic schools are from the most deprived wards [actually LSOAs], compared with 12% for schools overall. At both primary and secondary, Catholic schools over-index in the bottom four deciles and under-index in the top six deciles.’

This claim is based on the Catholic Education Service’s (CES’s) analysis of where pupils at its schools live. It has calculated the scores of all its pupils and all pupils at other schools, broken them into 10% bands, and compared them. It finds:

The graphs below, constructed from data provided by the DfE, compare Catholic schools with all schools in England. The horizontal axis represents the level of deprivation, starting with the most deprived 10% of areas on the left and continuing in deciles to the least deprived 10% on the right. The coloured blocks show what proportion of children lived in areas with each level of deprivation.

Distribution of Pupils by IDACI Decile in [Mainstream State Funded] Primary Schools, January 2013

Catholic primary pupils IDACI

The index does not show dramatic changes from year to year, so that this graph is similar to that for 2012. The first pair of columns shows that 13.8% of all primary school children lived in the most deprived 10% of areas, compared to 18.4% of children at Catholic primary schools. The second pair shows that 12.1% of all children lived in the next most deprived area, compared to 13.5% of children at Catholic schools, and so on. Fewer children in Catholic primary schools came from the more advantaged areas to the right of the graph.

Distribution of Pupils by IDACI Decile in [Mainstream State Funded] Secondary Schools, January 2013

Catholic secondary pupils IDACI

The findings here are broadly similar to those for the primary sector, showing that pupils at Catholic secondary schools came disproportionately from more deprived areas.

But is it true that pupils at Catholic schools come disproportionately from more deprived areas? Surely some consideration of the locations of the schools is needed to make such a claim?

The Fair Admissions Campaign has done such an analysis, running the postcodes of all Catholic and other schools through the IDACI tool. Here’s what we found:

Distribution of schools by IDACI decile in mainstream state funded primary schools, January 2013

Catholic primary schools IDACI

Distribution of schools by IDACI decile in mainstream state funded secondary schools, January 2013

Catholic secondary schools IDACI

So it is indeed the case that Catholic schools are much more likely to be in deprived areas than other schools, and less likely to be in richer areas. We also see that schools (both Catholic and non-Catholic) are, in general, more likely to be in wealthier areas than pupils are (which must either be as a result of house prices going up around schools, or because schools are more likely to be established in wealthier areas).

The question though is whether Catholic schools are, according to IDACI, disproportionately more likely to take deprived pupils, given the areas in which they are located. Doing a slightly complicated analysis (finding the relative difference between each school band and its pupil band, and then comparing these figures for the Catholic and other schools), we have come up with a model where we calculate a new ‘score’, where anything positive means that Catholic schools under-take pupils in the relevant band when compared with other schools, and anything negative means that they over-take.

In other words, for the CES’s claims to be true, it wants a negative score in the first five bands (0-50%), particularly the first band (0-10%), and a positive score in the last five bands (50-100%).

Analysis of whether Catholic or other schools over- or under-take pupils in each IDACI decile

IDACI score

What this model says is that at the primary level, Catholic schools clearly under-take pupils in the 50% most deprived areas, given the areas in which they are located, and over-take pupils in the 50% most well-off areas. This effect is at its largest amongst the very richest and very poorest pupils. So the claims are not at all supported.

At the secondary level, Catholic schools under-take pupils in the 0-10% most deprived band, given the areas in which they are located – they are given a ‘score’ of 10%. They slightly over-take pupils in the 10-60% bands, but then under-take pupils in the 60-100% most deprived bands. This gives a somewhat more mixed picture than the primary level but seems to suggest that Catholic secondary schools are more likely to take pupils living in deprived areas, given the areas in which they are located – except for the very most deprived, where the opposite is the case.

Free school meal eligibility

So – can the CES claim that it takes more deprived pupils, apart from the very most deprived, at the secondary level? No: first of all because this is just one model and may not be accurate. And secondly because a big issue with IDACI is that we are comparing how deprived different areas are, and not how deprived the pupils themselves are. It is possible that certain schools only take the better off pupils in any individual LSOA, which contains around 1,000-3,000 pupils. Only by looking at a measure of deprivation of the pupils themselves, and not of the areas in which they live, can get around this problem. And this is what the Government’s preferred measure of free school meal eligibility does.

In the debate yesterday, one MP commented that ‘It is worth putting on record that in [2013] the difference in the number of those receiving free school meals nationally and of those receiving them in Catholic schools was about… 2% [in absolute terms]. It is worth putting the scale of the difference into the context.’ (i.e., the difference is quite small.) This doesn’t seem to us to be that small, when nationally 15% of secondary pupils and 18% of primary pupils are eligible for free school meals.

But as we have seen, Catholic schools are significantly more likely to be in deprived areas than other schools. Given this fact it is even more surprising that they take fewer pupils eligible for free school meals than the national average – we would expect them to take more.

As with IDACI, the more accurate thing to do is to take into account this context, and work out how many more or fewer pupils each type school takes that are eligible for free school meals, compared to what would be expected given the school’s locations. We have done this already for secondary schools. We found that in an absolute sense, Catholic secondary schools take 6% fewer pupils than would be expected; in a relative/proportional sense, they take 24% fewer. An earlier version of the same analysis found that Catholic primaries are even less inclusive still. And our findings hold even if you look at larger local comparisons than we chose to go with, such as just considering schools in large counties.

Conclusions

It is clear, when analysing IDACI properly, that Catholic primary schools take disproportionately few pupils living in deprived areas, taking into account the locations of the schools. This is at its most acute amongst the very most deprived areas. At the secondary level Catholic schools also under-take those living in the very most deprived areas, but over-take others from deprived areas.

However, IDACI does not consider how deprived the pupils’ families are. Free school meal eligibility does this. Here we see at both primary and secondary level it is clearly the case that Catholic schools take too few pupils eligible for free school meals. There is also ample wider evidence supporting this finding from a variety of different perspectives.

With all of that said, we think the conclusion to all this should be that it’s very disappointing that the Catholic Education Service only presents half the analysis with respect to IDACI (the half that is more favourable towards it), while some of its supporters dispute the significance and validity  of the alternative measure preferred by this and previous Governments (which just happens to be less favourable towards it).

Notes

For further comment please email info@fairadmissions.org.uk.

Read the Hansard transcript: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140430/halltext/140430h0001.htm#14043042000002

View the debate: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=15321

See the underlying data: http://cdn1.fairadmissions.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/IDACI-Catholic-vs-other-schools.xlsx

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, the British Humanist Association, Professor Ted Cantle and the iCoCo Foundation, the Association of Teachers and LecturersBritish 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 AssociationLiberal Youth, the Local Schools NetworkRichmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, the Runnymede Trust, the Socialist Educational Association, and the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches.