Barry Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield and former Chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee, has announced his support for the Fair Admissions Campaign. Mr Sheerman was Chair of the Committee from 2001 to the 2010 general election.
In declaring his support, Mr Sheerman commented:
‘As chair of the Education Select Committee for 10 years, and chair of the Schools to Work policy review, I know only too well the huge impact a child’s schooling has on the rest of his/her life.
‘That is why I am pledging my support to the “Fair Admissions Campaign”, which aims to end discrimination on the basis of religion in British schools.
‘Currently, faith schools are permitted to admit children solely on the basis of religious orientation. While I fully support faith schools – some of the best schools in the country and in Huddersfield are based on a religious ethos – it is utterly wrong that schools should be allowed to dictate a child’s future on the basis of religious identity.
‘It is not longer right, in the 21st century, to legally enshrine religious discrimination, and according to polling, three quarters of the public agree. I hope you can join me in supporting the campaign.’
In other developments, the Campaign for State Education has also joined the Campaign as a supporting organisation.
And Vince Cable, MP for Twickenham and Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, has written in his monthly email to constituents that faith schools in his area should be more inclusive in their admissions: ‘I have always been a defender of faith schools because of the extra choice it gives to parents, respecting their religion. But we are getting into difficult – and nasty – competition for places. In a band from East Twickenham to Teddington there are now five faith schools (three CofE, two RC), and two non-denominational schools which are also bursting at the seams.
‘Local residents are finding that they cannot get places and are passed over for church goers who live much further away. I am appealing to the church authorities to be community minded on admissions.’
For further comment please contact Accord Coalition Coordinator Paul Pettinger on 020 7324 3071, BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal on 07738 435 059, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the Fair Admissions Campaign website at http://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.
The Campaign is being supported by the Accord Coalition, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the British Humanist Association, British Muslims for Secular Democracy, Professor Ted Cantle CBE and the iCoCo Foundation, the Campaign for State Education, the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, the Christian think tank Ekklesia, the Hindu Academy, the Liberal Democrat Education Association, Liberal Youth, Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, the Runnymede Trust, the Socialist Educational Association (affiliated to the Labour Party), and the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches.