Monthly Archives: January 2014

Fair Admissions Campaign response to London Oratory School determination being quashed

The Fair Admissions Campaign is disappointed to hear from the British Humanist Association that an inconsequential mistake means that last year’s comprehensive decision by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator against the London Oratory School is to be quashed and re-done.

Responding to the news, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, Chair of the Accord Coalition for inclusive education, commented, ‘Many people will be puzzled that a high-profile school which asserts it is based on religious principles but was found guilty of several counts of discrimination by the Schools Adjudicator is now being excused on a technicality when the substantial problem still remains. It sends a very poor message to parents and pupils about the importance of fairness and equality. It also poses a major question about internal flaws to those faith schools who feel that they cannot maintain their religious ethos without discriminating against others.’

Jeremy Rodell, Chair of the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, commented, ‘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.’

BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘It is immensely frustrating that this decision is to be scrapped on what can only be described as an inconsequential technicality. We will continue to press this matter and seek a near-identical ruling from the schools adjudicator, as it is wrong that a school can have such an admissions policy when the consequence is so much socio-economic manipulation of its intake. 7% of pupils at the school are eligible for free school meals, compared to 36% locally.’

Notes

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

Read details of the case on the BHA website: https://humanism.org.uk/2014/01/24/inconsequential-technicality-leads-quashing-schools-adjudicator-decision-london-oratory/

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.

Academic success of religiously selective schools rests on back door social selection

Top ranking religiously selective faith schools have been found to be some of the most socio-economically segregatory schools in the country, exposing their dependency on social sorting for their academic performance.

The Government’s latest league tables on GCSE performance, released today, show that religiously selective secondary schools comprise 47 of the 100 best performing non-grammar schools. This is when religiously selective schools comprise only 16% of state funded secondary schools. However, findings from the Fair Admissions Campaign show that the 47 schools admit 44% fewer pupils entitled to free school meals than would be expected if they instead admitted their nearest local children. For the top 10 ranked religiously selective schools the figure is 56% fewer.

This compares to religiously selective secondary schools in general admitting 26% fewer. Secondary faith schools that do not religiously select admit just 1% fewer pupils entitled to free school meals than would be expected. Entitlement to free school meals is a key government indicator of deprivation.

Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘Religiously selective admission arrangements provide a way for more affluent families to get their children into higher performing schools. Today’s league tables highlight how the success of religiously selective schools rests on serving the affluent at the expense of the deprived. Many people of faith will be appalled that schools that should focus on serving the poor should become so elitist.’

Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at the British Humanist Association, commented, ‘The evidence from the academic literature shows that any difference in academic performance between religiously selective schools and other schools is down to the pupils that they admit. That the highest performing schools also turn out to be the most socio-economically selective is hugely disappointing. These schools are using complex admissions policies to deny the poorest pupils a chance to receive an academically strong education, thereby exacerbating existing divisions. It is time they stopped doing so.’

A survey commissioned and released last month by the Sutton Trust revealed that 10% of upper middle class parents in England with a child at a school admitted to attending church services when they did not previously, so their child could go to a church school. Meanwhile, a surge in late Roman Catholic baptisms of children over the last decade has recently been observed. Most state funded Catholic school show preference to children who are baptised, rather than according to Church attendance.

Top five religiously selective secondary schools

Rank School Location Faith designation


Proportion of pupils entitled to free school meals compared to expectations

1 Tauheedul Islam Girls High School Blackburn Muslim

64.6% fewer

2 Coloma Convent Girls’ School Croydon Roman Catholic

78.3% fewer

3 The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial RC School Kensington and Chelsea Roman Catholic

77.0% fewer

4 St Philomena’s School Sutton Roman Catholic

46.3% fewer

5 King David High School Liverpool Jewish

75.2% fewer


Notes

More information on the social and ethnic inclusiveness of religiously selective schools can be found at http://fairadmissions.org.uk/groundbreaking-new-research-maps-the-segregating-impact-of-faith-school-admissions/ 

Ethnically mixed schools help pupils overcome discrimination

new study by academics at the University of London has found that cross ethnic friendships in schools make children more resilient to perceived ethnic discrimination. To date studies have suggested a positive effect on community cohesion from ethnically mixed schools, as they allow more cross ethnic friendships to development. However, the new report suggests ethically mixed schools also have a direct and positive effect on the psychological well-being of pupils themselves.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain said, ‘The new research confirms what many already suspected – that ethnically mixed schools not only help in challenging prejudicial and discriminatory attitudes in society, such as by boosting the growth of mutual understanding and trust between pupils from different backgrounds, but that they also better shield children if they perceive discrimination.’

‘Schools should be as diverse the local communities they represent. The findings provide a further boost to mixed schools and speak against those that select and segregate children on religious grounds, which can so often also serve as a proxy for segregation on the grounds of race, ethnicity and socio-economic group.’


Evidence base

The positive effect upon community cohesion and the growth of mutual understanding from mixed schooling has been identified by different research. Among the key findings of ‘Social Capital, Diversity and Education Policy’ (2006), by Professor Irene Bruegel of the London South Bank University Families & Social Capital ESRC Research Group, were that:

“Friendship at primary schools can, and does, cross ethnic and faith divides wherever children have the opportunity to make friends from different backgrounds. At that age, in such schools, children are not highly conscious of racial differences and are largely unaware of the religion of their friends … There was some evidence that parents learned to respect people from other backgrounds as a result of their children’s experiences in mixed schools.” (p2)

Furthermore, ‘Identities in Transition: A Longitudinal Study of Immigrant Children’ (2008), by Rupert Brown, Adam Rutland & Charles Watters from the Universities of Sussex and Kent, found that:

“… the effects of school diversity were consistent, most evidently on social relations: higher self-esteem, fewer peer problems and more cross-group friendships. Such findings show that school ethnic composition can significantly affect the promotion of positive intergroup attitudes. These findings speak against policies promoting single faith schools, since such policies are likely to lead to reduced ethnic diversity in schools.”(p9)

The 2001 ‘Oldham Independent Review’, which was commissioned by the Government, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council and the local police authority after race riots in the town that year found that:

“Educational mixing: This is closely linked to residential, and in our view it is desirable in principal that as many schools as possible, should have mixed intake so that children growing up can learn one another’s customs and cultural backgrounds and accept that stereotypes and racism are unacceptable.” (p7)

In contrast, religious selection by faith schools has been blamed on exacerbating ethnic division. At the launch of ‘The Cantle Report into Community Cohesion in Blackburn with Darwen’ (2009) its author, Prof Ted Cantle, stated that faith schools with religious admission requirements were “automatically a source of division” in the town.

Meanwhile, ground breaking research released by the Fair Admissions Campaign in December found ‘a clear correlation between religious selection and socio-economic segregation’, showing that religiously selectively schools are skewed towards serving the affluent at the expense of the deprived.

Church baptisms move away from birth and towards school admission deadlines

New research published by the Pastoral Research Centre has shown that while the number of baptisms of children under the age of one is in long term decline, the number of baptisms of those aged over one has risen dramatically over the past decade. The trend, which is also seen in statistics for Church of England baptisms, might indicate that more and more parents are now only having their children baptised in order to gain entry to Catholic schools – virtually all of which have baptism as a requirement in their oversubscription policies. The Fair Admissions Campaign has called for the scrapping of such admissions requirements.

In total, the number of Catholic baptisms of children under one fell by 5% from 44,130 in 2001 to 41,937 in 2012, with half the fall happening in the last year. Conversely, the number of late baptisms (almost all by age 13) rose 29% from 19,528 in 2001 to 25,225 in 2012 – although there was a 5% fall in the last year.

The number of Church of England baptisms of children under one fell 26% since 2000 to 83,850 in 2011. The number of baptisms of children aged 1-12 (the vast majority being at ages 2-3) rose by 18% since 2000 to 45,260.

In its coverage of the statistics, The Telegraph quotes a father who got his three children baptised at a Polish Catholic church two weeks before the school application deadline, in order that they would meet the entry requirements for a local, high performing Catholic school: ‘I didn’t think it would be possible to go to our local parish to get the children baptised. The priest is not that friendly, and he might have smelt a rat if we asked to have our children baptised so last minute. The priest at the Polish church just asked me if I go to church. I said we go to a different church and we want to start going to this one.’

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, chair of the Accord Coalition for inclusive education, commented, ‘Many Catholic schools will only take children whom they have baptised, so for parents desperate for a school place, baptism is a significant entry ticket to a local school. As Catholic schools are publicly funded, they should be open to the community at large rather than using faith as a way of discriminating between children and enabling some families to jump the queue.’

Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at the British Humanist Association, commented, ‘Research published last month by the Sutton Trust found that 6% of parents attend worship specifically to get their children into Church schools. This latest research could be construed as suggesting that parents are similarly being motivated to get their children baptised not for religious reasons but for school admissions reasons. It is past time that such admissions policies are replaced with others that ensure that all state schools are made open to all children, regardless of their parents’ religion or belief.’

Notes

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

Read the latest research: http://www.prct.org.uk/

Read the equivalent figures for the Church of England: http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1737985/attendancestats2011.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.