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.