A new study for the think tank Demos has revealed that schools in England are not keeping pace with the changing ethnic profile of society and are a major source of segregation. The detailed search found that between 2008 and 2013 ‘… the levels of segregation in English schools has remained stable or only somewhat declined as the nation’s diversity has increased substantially’.
In regards to faith schools, the author’s observed that ‘Religious identities often overlap with ethnic identities and therefore some faith schools effectively exclude other ethnic groups’. The study found that primary schools in the Blackburn, Bradford and Oldham local authority areas were the most ethnically segregated in the country. All three boroughs experienced race riots in the summer of 2001.
Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘The culture where some schools are seen as for and belonging to certain groups is made worse by faith schools. The Government can help to de-escalate the situation by extending to all faith schools the limit placed on most new faith schools to not religiously select more than half their pupils.
‘The education system has to change and adopt itself to the fact that it exists in an increasingly diverse society. Schools that purposely divide by religion or ethnicity cannot be part of a more integrated and cohesive future.’
British Humanist Assocation Campaigns Manager, Richy Thompson, commented ‘The BHA’s own research has shown that the most ethnically segregated schools are minority religious schools, while religious selection amongst Christian schools directly contributes to their failure to admit a representative share of the local Asian population. Ending religious selection in school admissions would go a long way to ending ethnic segregation in Blackburn, Bradford, Oldham and elsewhere.’