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.