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.

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.

Faith schools criticised for complexity of school admissions policies

Update: Also out today is a survey from Netmums of their members which found that ‘To get their children into popular faith schools, 12.5 per cent had attended a church or place of worship near the school, while 1.4 per cent admitted to attending a church or place of worship of a different faith to their own.’ Just 4-5 per cent of the parent age population attends Church weekly, so if this survey is accurate then it suggests that there must be big spikes in attendance when parents have children aged 2-4 and again at about 9-11, with much lower attendance otherwise.

Original story: A new report published today by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) has criticised the complex admissions requirements used by many religiously selective schools and called for further clarification from the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) on what is and is not permitted. The Fair Admissions Campaign, which has published research demonstrating the extent to which religious selection causes socio-economic segregation, has welcomed the report and its findings.

“It might be best if you looked elsewhere”: An investigation into the schools admission process took the current School Admissions Code (which permits religious selection) as a given but nonetheless examines areas in which faith-based selection leads to breaches of the School Admissions Code.

The report looks through recent decisions made against schools by the OSA and found two main areas where schools are being caught breaking the Code. The first is ‘The use of complex “points” systems by some admissions authorities for admissions. These are usually used by faith schools. These reward parents for carrying out work in a church or other place of worship. While the use of criteria relating to religious observance is lawful for gaining admission to a school of the faith concerned, criteria related to providing practical support to a place of worship are not. However, it is not always clear which category a particular criterion or activity used by a school falls into. Guidance on this should be provided by faith authorities (such as the local diocese.) However, this guidance is at times silent on the criteria used by local schools, and the potential for confusion, or for parents being put off from applying, therefore continues.’ The second is in giving priority to children attending nurseries.

As a consequence, the first recommendation made by the report is that ‘The Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) issue further clarification on the difference between criteria based on “religious observance”, which are lawful, and those based on “non-religious service”, which are not. OSA should seek consensus from faith bodies on the differences between these criteria, drawing on existing good practice in faith schools in England. Using the latter criteria could be viewed as amounting to charging a fee to apply to the school, albeit “in kind” rather than in cash. OSA should seek consensus from faith bodies on the differences between these sets of criteria, drawing on existing good practice already in existence in many faith schools in England, and should ensure its guidance aids those schools’ practices to remain within the statutory admissions code.

The report also calls for:

  • ‘Further large-scale, qualitative research is required to enable all concerned to understand the specific nature and scale of inequality in admissions outcomes, and to report on the reasons for this. This should be a priority for the Department for Education’s future programme of commissioned research.’
  • Schools to particularly consider whether their admissions policies and behaviour might break the Public Sector Equality Duty.
  • ‘As part of their work in co-ordinating admissions, local authorities should be given powers to collect anonymised demographic information on the characteristics of children applying for a place at the state funded schools across their areas, alongside data on places offered and accepted.’ The Fair Admissions Campaign has also been calling for data of this nature to be collected and published by central Government or local authorities.

Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘Many expect the faith school sector to be setting examples for others to follow, so it is all the more disturbing that religiously selective schools should be associated with discriminatory, socially exclusive and improper practices. We urge the Government to implement the report’s recommendations and produce guidance that sets out more clearly the types of faith based admissions criteria that are not permissible under the School Admissions Code. The Department for Education also needs to carry out research into the wider scale of inequality in admissions outcomes and the reasons for them.’

Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at the British Humanist Association, commented, ‘It is simply unacceptable that many schools cream off the “more attractive” pupils (as the report puts it) to the detriment of those from more deprived backgrounds, who do not speak English as a first language, or who have special educational needs. While taking as read the current allowance of faith-based admissions, this report nonetheless finds that faith-based admissions in particular often lead to complex points-based admissions systems which in turn causes socio-economic and ethnic segregation. The report correctly concludes that while faith-based selection continues, more needs to be done to clarify exactly what is and is not permissible. We will be urging the Government to take action and ensure this report’s recommendations become reality.’

Notes

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

Read the OCC’s press release: http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/press_release/content_538

Read the report: http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/force_download.php?fp=%2Fclient_assets%2Fcp%2Fpublication%2F798%2FIt_might_be_best_if_you_looked_elsewhere.pdf

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.

How religiously selective schools have been found to break the Admissions Code

The Fair Admissions Campaign is today publishing a comprehensive summary of the all the complaints made to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator about ‘faith’ schools since the introduction of the 2012 Schools Admissions Code. The new piece of research highlights numerous religious schools that adopted unlawful admissions arrangements in breach of legislation and the Code.

Some of the 75 cases identified saw schools resorting to drastic measures to reinforce their religious exclusiveness. For example, one Catholic school that could not find enough Catholic students to fill all its places attempted to lower their Published Admissions Number in order to exclude non-Catholic students who were entitled to a place. Several schools used religious selection criteria that prioritised those children whose parents contributed to the church through voluntary activities such as bell ringing, flower arranging, coffee rotas and church maintenance. Such, the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) found, amounted to requiring parents to give practical support to the Church, which is not allowed. Many other schools were guilty of providing parents with misleading, confusing or unclear admissions policies, or asking for unnecessary information that could lead to socio-economic selection.

Recently the Fair Admissions Campaign examined the admissions policy of every religious secondary school in England and found widespread code breaches will form the basis of a forthcoming series of complaints to the OSA.

Professor Ted Cantle CBE of the iCoCo Foundation commented, ‘This piece of research presents very disturbing evidence of widespread manipulation of admissions with the consequence of unfairly excluding children on the basis of faith and non-faith. I am continually shocked by the way that religiously selective schools – which we might have expected to trust – are found to be cheating the system.’

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, Chair of the Accord Coalition for inclusive education, commented, ‘It is hard to know what is worse: that those entrusted with educating the next generation have been found guilty of breaches of trust, or that many of them have been faith schools who have broken their own self-proclaimed moral standards.’

Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at the British Humanist Association, commented, ‘This research highlights numerous cases where faith schools that are already able legally to discriminate against applicants on the basis of parental religion have pushed the boundaries further and found themselves in breach of the Admissions Code. Every complaint that is upheld represents families and children suffering religious discrimination in school admissions, with some schools employing ever more creative strategies that skirt the law. We do not think that any school should be allowed to religiously select in admissions: it is unfair and the evidence shows that it often causes socio-economic and ethnic as well as religious segregation.’

Notes

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

Read the overview: http://cdn2.fairadmissions.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Summary-of-faith-school-OSA-decisions-under-the-2012-Admissions-Code.pdf

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.