About the campaign
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.
It cannot be right for a state-funded school to turn away local children simply because of the religion or beliefs of their parents or carers. That is illegal in most other developed countries. It is legal here only because of special exemptions in equalities law.
Evidence shows that allowing children to grow up with friends from diverse religious backgrounds promotes cohesion and harmony, allowing them to know, understand and love each other: ‘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.’
Conversely, segregation enables misunderstandings to grow into distrust. Professor Ted Cantle, author of the Cantle Report into the 2001 race riots, has found that schools with religious admission requirements are ‘automatically a source of division’, which contribute to different communities leading ‘parallel lives’.
Evidence also shows that religious segregation leads to socio-economic segregation, with some parents more able than others to attend Church on a regular basis in order to get their children into the better-performing school – regardless of what these different parents’ religious beliefs actually are. Religiously selective schools typically admit a much smaller percentage of pupils on free school meals than others in their postcode or local authority.
We are working to end faith-based selection by state-funded schools. We aim to achieve this goal
- through national campaigning;
- by stimulating and supporting local opposition to such selection through local campaign groups, individuals writing to their MPs, AMs and councillors and by complaints to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator; and
- by supporting parents, carers, pupils and teachers who are victims of discrimination as a consequence of the current system.
Supporters of the campaign include the Accord Coalition, Humanists UK, Professor Ted Cantle and the iCoCo Foundation, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the Campaign for State Education, the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, the Christian think tank Ekklesia, the Green Party of England and Wales, the Hindu Academy, the Liberal Democrat Education Association, Liberal Youth, the Local Schools Network, Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, the Runnymede Trust, the Socialist Educational Association, and the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, with more individuals and organisations to come.
Last year, many of these organisations came together to sign a joint letter to Michael Gove, published in The Observer. This was in response to a survey that showed that the public oppose religious selection by more than four to one, and the first ever judicial review against a new school because of religious selection being fought at the High Court.