All state-funded schools should be open to all children, regardless of their parents’ religion. That’s the message of the new Fair Admissions Campaign, which will be launched on 6 June. It seeks to bring equity to a system that should be a beacon of fairness, yet is mired in discrimination – which is both an indictment of current practice and a poor example to the children themselves. The campaign does not take a position on the state funding faith schools but focuses solely on the issue of religious selection in admissions in England and Wales, and its consequences in terms of religious, ethnic, social and economic segregation.
It is already being supported by the Accord Coalition, the British Humanist Association, Professor Ted Cantle and the iCoCo Foundation, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, the Christian think tank Ekklesia, the Hindu Academy, the Liberal Democrat Education Association, Liberal Youth, Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, the Runnymede Trust, the Socialist Educational Association, and the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches.
A press launch for the Campaign is being held at the Craven Room of the Foreign Press Association, 25 Northumberland Ave, London WC2N 5AP, at 11:00-12:00 on 6 June 2013. Speaking at the launch will be:
- Professor Ted Cantle CBE, founder of the Institute of Community Cohesion (iCoCo) and the iCoCo Foundation, and author of ‘The Cantle Report’, commissioned and published by the Home Office after 2001’s summer of race riots, and Interculturalism: the new era of cohesion and diversity;
- Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at the British Humanist Association (BHA);
- Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education and Minister of Maidenhead Synagogue;
- Jeremy Rodell of the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign (RISC), which last year took the first ever judicial review against a proposed new school because of religious selection.
While the campaign would ultimately welcome legislative change to end faith-based selection, a key goal is to empower those (including those within faith groups) who want their schools to be open to the whole community, as well as encourage individual religiously selective schools to embrace open/more open admission arrangements.
Further details on the campaign will be presented at the press launch.
For further comment please contact Accord Coalition Coordinator Paul Pettinger on 020 7324 3071, BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal on 07738 435 059, or email email@example.com.
Visit the Fair Admissions Campaign website at http://fairadmissions.org.uk/. Note that the existence of the website should not be publicised ahead of the launch (it currently does not show up in search engines).
More information about the Campaign can be found on its ‘Why is this an issue?’ (http://fairadmissions.org.uk/why-is-this-an-issue/) and ‘FAQs’ (http://fairadmissions.org.uk/why-is-this-an-issue/faqs/) pages.
The Campaign is led by a steering group whose members currently include the Accord Coalition, the BHA, Ted Cantle and RISC.
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.