The Fair Admissions Campaign has made available a list of case studies about families who have experienced religious discrimination by schools in admissions. Since the Campaign launched in June we have been contacted by many families who have told us about their negative experience due to religious selection and today we have added four of these testimonies to the list. The statements help to show how such discrimination is not hypothetical, but a real issue that negatively impacts many in the education system.
Two of the new testimonies highlight how faith selection can diminish families’ choice – one family has been unable to get their child admitted to their two nearest secondary schools, while another has been prevented from sending their child to five of their nearest eight primary schools. The other two statements highlight how religiously selective schools can divide families by favouring children of the ‘right’ faith or denomination in their admissions policy over those who already have a sibling attending. A parent from Walsall told us:
“My family are active Christians and we wanted our children to be educated at a faith school so that our children could follow Christian ethics and morals, which we hope would be to their benefit in the future.
Unfortunately however the faith school our eldest daughter was accepted at has an admissions policy that favours children of families that attend the local church over the children of families who already have siblings at the school. As a result our second daughter was not accepted … We were one of eight families whose children have been split across the borough to attend different schools.
We have found the whole process to be completely hypocritical. How can a policy that has the potential to split the family unit be promoted by a Christian faith based school? Surely they should be promoting and supporting the family unit not splitting it up!
As an already practising Christian family we feel the policy is open to abuse by those who turn up to church to ‘get a form signed’ for a short period to the detriment of families already at the school … In principle I believe in having faith schools, but the implementation, especially in our case, has been fundamentally flawed, is open to exploitation and by incentivising this behaviour goes against our Christian values.”
Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, said ‘These latest testimonies, like those already published, make very troubling reading. Although some of the negative consequences of faith selection shown are unintended ones, they serve to highlight what an ill-fit religiously selective admission policies are within the state funded education system and emphasise the pressing need for change.’
The Campaign will soon be uploading a new and comprehensive resource looking at the academic research around religious selection in admissions by schools.