Monthly Archives: December 2013

Three highly discriminatory CofE secondaries found to be in breach of Admissions Code

Three Church of England secondary schools recently highlighted by the Fair Admissions Campaign as amongst the most socio-economically and ethnically selective in the country have been found by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) to have admissions policies that break the School Admissions Code. Twyford Church of England High School in Ealing, Archbishop Blanch CofE VA School in Liverpool, and the Grey Coat Hospital in Westminster, will both now have to rewrite their policies to bring them in line with the OSA’s determinations. The Fair Admissions Campaign has welcomed the decisions.

Twyford CofE High School

In addition to requiring weekly worship attendance by parent and child for at least five years, Twyford Church of England High School currently prioritises pupils on the basis of activities such as ‘Bell ringing’, ‘Flower arranging at church’, ‘Assisting with collection/counting money’, ‘Tea & coffee Rota’, ‘Church cleaning’, ‘Church maintenance’, ‘Parish Magazine Editor’ and ‘Technical support’: the school has the most extreme admissions policy the Campaign is aware of. As a consequence, 10% of pupils are eligible for free school meals (FSM) and 10% speak English as an additional language (EAL), compared to 28% locally on FSM and 56% on EAL. This puts it in the top 1% most exclusive on both measures, when compared to all other schools. The school was recently featured in The Times because of the extremity of its criteria.

The school’s head defended its policy as ‘We believe that it is… implicit that practical assistance in the running of a church or other place of worship is acceptable, provided these activities are clearly related to the spiritual life of the community.  Activities such as flower arranging and church/mosque/temple cleaning are an essential aspect of the setting up for, or clearing up after, worship.’ However, the Schools Adjudicator determined that the list of activities constitutes requiring financial and practical support for a place of worship (which is not allowed) and so must be removed. In addition, the criteria were found to break the Code in specifically discriminating against those of no faith, in requiring participation in religious activities for the 30 places each year set aside as for those of ‘World Faiths/No faith’. A number of further breaches were found, such as requiring both parents to put details on forms, and prioritising those with a lower door number in a block of flats over those with a higher number.

Archbishop Blanch

In addition to requiring weekly worship attendance by parent and child for at least four years, Archbishop Blanch gives applicants points for ‘Involvement of the family in Church life beyond simple attendance at weekly worship’. The meaning of this is not defined, but elsewhere there is reference to ‘e.g. certificate of reception into the church, baptism, communion and confirmation certificates. Other evidence could include altar server certificates, or letters of support from Sunday School or Children’s Liturgy etc.’ It admits 13% eligible for FSM, compared to 43% locally – again putting it in the worst 1% nationally. It also admits 11% speaking EAL, compared to 28% locally – which puts it in the worst 3%.

Here the Schools Adjudicator determined that ‘the arrangements do not conform with the requirements of the legislation and the School Admissions Code in relation to the fact that parents must easily be able to understand how any faith-based criteria will be reasonably satisfied and priority must not be given on the basis of any practical support.’ The school was found to also break the Code in eleven other places, including failure to consult.

Grey Coat Hospital

Meanwhile, the Grey Coat Hospital not only requires weekly church attendance for five years but also gives points for ‘Parent holding elected office in the church’, ‘Regular practical involvement by a parent in the church’ and ‘Regular involvement in other aspect of church life’. 14% of pupils are eligible for FSM, compared to 33% locally – putting it in the worst 1% of schools nationally. 25% speak EAL, compared to 48% locally – putting it in the worst 2% of schools nationally.

The Schools Adjudicator determined that this constitutes requiring practical support to the Church, is unclear and in addition ‘some families and especially single parent families could find it harder to get involved in church activities because the absence of a second parent to either take part in the scored activity, or to look after any siblings while another participates, creates child care and other issues.’ A number of further aspects of the admissions criteria were found to also break the Code, including their general complexity.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, Chair of the Accord Coalition for inclusive education, commented ‘Whereas the founder of their faith urged followers to “suffer the children” and welcome them, some Church schools are doing the exact opposite, by making admission demands that discriminate and exclude.’

Notes

For further information or comment please contact Paul Pettinger on 020 7324 3071 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 response to Church of England education division’s comments

On Tuesday the Fair Admissions Campaign published new research in the form of a map which looks at all secondary schools in England and which found that Church schools are less inclusive than others, and that more religiously selective faith schools are more likely to socio-economically segregate. However, in response to the findings the Church of England has claimed that its schools do not socio-economically select.

The CofE claims that ‘The latest national data, published in the Department of Education’s 2013 School Census, shows that 15% of pupils at CofE Secondary pupils are eligible for Free School Meals. This is the same as the average for non CofE schools.’ And speaking in today’s Church Times, their Chief Education Officer, Rev Jan Ainsworth, dismissed the findings as a ‘wilful misrepresentation… We do not recognise the picture of church schools the survey paints. We are proud of the way in which our schools enable children from disadvantaged backgrounds to succeed.’

In fact, the Census shows Church secondaries admit 14% of pupils eligible for free school meals. However, such a comparison between the national average for CofE secondaries and for other schools is overly simplistic as it does not take account of the fact that different denominations of secondaries are in different areas – with Church secondaries more likely to be in cities where the rates of eligibility for free school meals are higher. This is why the Campaign’s research, which is also based on the 2013 School Census, compares schools to their local areas, not to the national average. It finds that CofE schools are 15% less inclusive than would be expected if they admitted children living in their local community, while schools with no religious character are 5% more inclusive.

Furthermore, CofE schools whose admissions policies permit all their places to be allotted on religious grounds admit 35% fewer children eligible for free school meals than would be expected, while CofE schools whose admissions criteria do not allow religious selection admit just 1% fewer.

Trinity CofE High School, Manchester

Finally, the Church Times also reports that ‘The survey has also angered the heads of church schools in challenging areas. David Ainsworth, the head of Trinity C of E High School, Manchester, listed in the survey as one of the worst offenders because 100 per cent of its places are offered on faith grounds, said: “We don’t demand that our pupils are Christians – just that they have a faith.” Comments in the most recent OFSTED report confirms Trinity’s multicultural make-up: “The majority of students are from mixed ethnic backgrounds, mainly black British, African, and Caribbean. This is well above the national average.” The school also has a higher-than-average percentage of children eligible for free school meals, and pupils with statements of special educational need, the OFSTED report adds.’

In fact, while 24% of pupils at the school are eligible for free school meals – above the national average – locally 46% of pupils are eligible for free school meals, much higher than at the school. And while 31% of pupils speak English as an additional language, locally the figure is 50%.

Notes

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

View the map: http://fairadmissions.org.uk/map

Read the accompanying press release: http://fairadmissions.org.uk/groundbreaking-new-research-maps-the-segregating-impact-of-faith-school-admissions/

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.

Groundbreaking new research maps the segregating impact of faith school admissions

The Fair Admissions Campaign has today published groundbreaking research into the extent of religious selection in state schools and its effect on social and ethnic inclusiveness. Launched in map form, for the first time it scores how religiously selective, socio-economically inclusive and ethnically inclusive every mainstream state secondary school in England is. Users are able to see profiles for individual schools, compare and rank different schools in their area and nationally, and see how segregated different denominations, dioceses and local authorities are. It is hoped that the tool will prove useful to parents, schools, and individuals concerned about segregation in school admissions. It can be viewed at http://fairadmissions.org.uk/map.

The research combines data from five main sources and hundreds of admissions directories. The map details the proportion of pupils each school is allowed to religiously select in its oversubscription criteria; how many pupils at the school are eligible for free school meals by comparison with its local area; and how many speak English as an additional language.

Key findings include:

  • Comprehensive secondaries with no religious character admit 5% more pupils eligible for free school meals than would be expected given their areas. Comprehensive Church of England secondaries admit 15% fewer; Roman Catholic secondaries 28% fewer; Jewish secondaries 63% fewer; and Muslim secondaries 29% fewer.
  • There is a clear correlation between religious selection and socio-economic segregation: Church of England comprehensives that don’t select on faith admit 1% fewer pupils eligible for free school meals than would be expected, while those whose admissions criteria allow full selection admit 35% fewer.
  • 16% of schools select by religion but they are vastly overrepresented in the 100 worst offenders on free school meal eligibility and English as an additional language. They make up 46 of the worst 100 schools (and 67 out of 100 if we exclude grammar schools) on FSM eligibility and 50 of the worst 100 (55 if we exclude grammar schools) on EAL.
  • The most segregated local authority as a result of religious selection is Hammersmith and Fulham. While 15% of pupils nationally are eligible for free school meals, the segregation between the religiously selective schools and other schools is almost double that (27 percentage points).
  • The map represents the first time any data has ever been published on the degree of religious selection by faith schools. We estimate that 16% of places at state schools (or 1.2 million) are subject to religious selection criteria. This compares with 5% of secondary places in grammar schools and 7% of all places in independent schools.

More in depth findings can be found in our briefing.

Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE said, ‘This new research exposes the hypocrisy of those who claim religiously selective schools serve the community at large. It reveals that they not only further segregate children on religious and ethnic grounds, but also are skewed towards serving the affluent at the expense of the deprived. Crucially, the research also shows that the more a school is permitted to select children by faith, the greater the extent to which it is likely to socio-economically segregate. The data poses some very awkward questions for the state funded faith school sector, especially as many people of faith are appalled that schools that should focus on the poor have become so elitist.’

Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association, commented, ‘Today’s findings make clear like never before the devastating effects that faith-based admissions have in segregating communities along socio-economic and ethnic lines. The Archbishop of Canterbury recently commented that Church of England schools are moving away from religious selection. We are yet to see if this is true, but at the same time believe it cannot come true soon enough. In any case, the scale of the problem demands not voluntary effort by religious groups but legislation – government should act now to make these divisive effects impossible by removing the possibility of religious selection in state-funded schools.’

Professor Ted Cantle CBE chaired The Cantle Report into the 2001 race riots, and founded the Institute of Community Cohesion. Professor Cantle commented, ‘This research clearly demonstrates the increasing balkanisation of our school system, with children growing up in separate communities with little chance of learning about others. It shows that education has done nothing to break down the “parallel lives” I described in 2001, rather they have been reinforced.’

Jeremy Rodell is Chair of the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, who last year took a judicial review against two proposed Catholic schools in the hope of establishing more inclusive admissions policies. Mr Rodell commented, ‘The evidence presented by this new data is very clear. We already knew that it is unfair for state-funded schools to discriminate on the basis of religion. But we can now see that the unfairness is compounded because it also disadvantages children who are already disadvantaged. Perversely, those who are the strongest advocates of choice in schooling are apparently happy to defend admissions policies that give some parents far more choice than others simply because of their religious practices, genuine or otherwise. Surely no government, of any political complexion, should allow this to continue.’

Notes

For further comment please contact Accord Coalition Chair Jonathan Romain on 07770 722 893, BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson on 07534 24 8596 or email info@fairadmissions.org.uk. For further information about the map please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7324 3072.

The map can be viewed at http://fairadmissions.org.uk/map and a more in depth briefing at http://fairadmissions.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Fair-Admissions-Campaign-map-in-depth-briefing.pdf. Note that unfortunately the map doesn’t work on mobile devices due to the fact that they can only handle about 100 pins (there are over 3,300).

Figures comparing different religious denominations and Dioceses can be seen on the ‘Overall averages’ tab of the map. For a fuller methodology (including how schools’ local area figures are calculated), details of the sources used, responses to possible criticism and answers to other questions please see the ‘FAQs’ tab.

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 response to Catholic Education Service’s claim to inclusivity

The Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CES) has today published their 2013 Census of Catholic schools in England and Wales. In their associated press release the CES has claimed that the ‘data shows that Catholic schools in England serve more disadvantaged pupils’, as ‘18.4% of pupils in Catholic primary schools are from some of the most deprived areas, compared to only 13.8% nationally. Catholic secondary schools follow a similar trend.  17.3% of pupils are coming from some of the most socially deprived areas with a national figure of 12.2%.’ The Fair Admissions Campaign has responded by pointing out that the CES’s comparison is fundamentally flawed.

While it may be the case that pupils at Catholic schools are more likely to come from deprived areas than the national average, this simply reflects the fact that Catholic schools are more likely to be in deprived inner city areas than the average school. It does not attempt to assess how deprived the individual pupils are – it could well be that the pupils at Catholic schools are from the wealthier families within the deprived areas.

Indeed, that this is the case becomes apparent if you look at the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals at Catholic schools and compare this to their local areas. If we do this, we see that comprehensive Catholic schools typically admit 28% fewer pupils eligible for free school meals than would be expected. In contrast, comprehensive schools with no religious character admit 5% more pupils eligible for free school meals than would be expected.

Tomorrow the Fair Admissions Campaign is launching its map which will reveal how inclusive different schools are in terms of religious selection, free school meal eligibility and English as an additional language, when compared to their local areas.

British Humanist Association Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘State funded faith schools remain the principal source and cause of discrimination and selection within our school system. Any objective and intelligent reading of the figures bears this out.’

Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘Faith schools should be supporting the poor and championing the vulnerable. The massive religious embarrassment that they are actually skewed towards serving the affluent is now being compounded by the Catholic Education Service who would have us think otherwise.’

Jeremy Rodell from Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign said ‘Our analysis of local primary schools underlines the Fair Admissions Campaign’s conclusions. On average, 10% of all borough primary pupils are eligible for free school meals, but the average for the seven Catholic primaries is only 4%. Five of them are 100% Catholic in their intake, with an average of over 90%. If our area is anything to go by, the extreme faith-based selection practised by state-funded Catholic schools is not only unfair in principle, but it disproportionately disadvantages children who are already disadvantaged.’

Notes

For further comment please contact Accord Coalition Chair Jonathan Romain on 07770 722 893, BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson on 07534 24 8596 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.