Monthly Archives: May 2015

Government urged to maintain religious selection cap

The Fair Admissions Campaign has called for the cap on new Academy faith schools not selecting more than half their pupils by faith to be maintained following public urging by Catholic Bishops to have the limit scrapped. Speaking to The Tablet last week, Head of Parliamentary Relations for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and Deputy Director of the Catholic Education Service, Greg Pope, said:

‘The 50 per cent admissions cap on faith academies was in the coalition agreement and but isn’t really a Conservative policy … We hope that with a Conservative Government it will be revisited, and it is something that my colleagues in the CES have raised with ministers.’

The 50% faith selection limit was introduced for new Academy schools that did not replace a pre-existing state funded school under Labour. The policy was continued after the May 2010 Election.

Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘Removing the cap  would not only cause further segregation in an education system that is supposed to broaden the horizons of children and prepare them for the wider world, but it would also send out a very unfortunate message about religious groups consciously discriminating against pupils of a different faith or none. Jesus said “Suffer the little children”, not “Bar them from the school gate”.’

Professor Ted Cantle of the iCoCo Foundation commented, ‘It is very disappointing to see Bishops playing party politics, rather than trying to ensure that schools are creating mixed intakes and giving children the chance to interact with others who are different from themselves – this is the way to tackle prejudice and to build the cohesion our society needs’

Jeremy Rodell, Chair of the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, said ‘It would be a huge step backwards for the 50% rule to be weakened. Faith can flourish in diversity, and children will benefit from being in schools with a varied intake, not in closed, defensive and sheltered faith communities.’

Richy Thompson, Campaigns Manager at the British Humanist Association, added ‘Polls have consistently shown that religious selection in schools is hugely unpopular among the wider public, and over the last few years we’ve seen an increasing number of voices from within faith communities themselves calling for an end to the practice. If anything the Government should seek to restrict religious selection further, not remove the limit altogether.’

The Bishop’s position does not appear related to demonstrable needs or educational outcomes. Many Catholic schools maintain their ethos without the need to discriminate in admissions. Most fee paying Catholic schools in England and Wales do not admit pupils according to religious tests, while most Catholic schools in other developed countries do not operate a religiously selective admissions policy, including countries with strong Catholic traditions like Italy, Spain and Poland.

New poll shows more parents than ever lying about faith to manipulate school admissions process

A new poll commissioned for ITV’s ‘Tonight’ programme has revealed the shocking extent to which parents are lying about their religion in order to get their children into the local ‘faith’ school. The findings, drawn from interviews with 1,000 primary school parents, indicate that manipulation of faith-based admissions policies is far more widespread than was previously thought. The Fair Admissions Campaign is again calling on schools to scrap their discriminatory admissions arrangements so parents no longer have to lie about their beliefs.

The key findings were as follows:

  • 36.3% said they had or would be willing to feign religion if it meant getting their child into a good school
  • 12.6% admitted to having practised a faith in which they did not believe
  • 13.7% said they had their child baptised purely to secure a school place
  • 11.1% said they had lied about their child being baptised

The figures, produced by OnePoll, were first presented on last night’s ITV ‘Tonight’ programme, called ‘How to Get into a Good School’.

The last survey to present findings of this kind, conducted by YouGov in November 2012, showed that 6% of parents had attended church to gain their child a place at a ‘faith’ school, but this latest poll suggests the practice is far more common that was previously thought.

Putting these figures into context, it is estimated that only around 4-5% of the parent age population in England currently attend church every week.

Commenting on the figures, Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said, ‘This poll is a game-changer, replacing the many anecdotal stories with hard evidence of widespread cheating. Rather than blame parents, we should blame the system that allows tax-payer funded schools to have admission procedures that discriminate on religious grounds. The survey will appal all those who value faith and find that it is being used to cheat one’s way into a school place.’

Director of Public Affairs and Campaigns Pavan Dhaliwal said ‘”Faith” schools have long tried to justify their discriminatory admissions policies by claiming they are essential to upholding the ethos of the school. These findings make a mockery of that. I would urge all schools to fully open themselves up so that parents are no longer forced to lie in order to get their child a place’.


For further information, please contact Jay Harman on 020 7324 3078 or email

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.