Today’s other education story: faith schools discriminating against poor pupils

New research has found a striking correlation between religious selection in schools and socio-economic segregation.

New research has found a striking correlation between religious selection in schools and socio-economic segregation, with non-religious schools admitting 11 per cent more pupils that are eligible for free school meals than religious institutions.

The research, carried out by the Fair Admissions Campaign, found that schools which selected pupils on the basis of their parents’ faith admitted significantly fewer pupils entitled to free school meals than their secular counterparts.

The results found that Church of England secondaries which selected based of faith admitted 10 per cent fewer pupils on free school meals; Roman Catholic secondaries admitted 24 per cent fewer; and Jewish secondaries admitted 61 per cent fewer. Muslim secondaries admitted 25 per cent fewer.

The study also found that Church of England schools which did not select on faith admitted 4 per cent more pupils eligible for free school meals than would normally be expected, while those whose admissions criteria allowed full selection admitted 31 per cent fewer.

Faith schools were vastly overrepresented in the 100 worst offenders on free school meals. 16 per cent of schools select on the basis of faith, yet they make up 46 of the worst 100 offenders on FSM eligibility; and 67 if we exclude grammar schools.

The most segregated local authority as a result of religious selection was Hammersmith and Fulham.

19 per cent of secondary schools are faith schools, while 16 per cent religiously select to some degree. 72 per cent of places at faith secondaries are subject to religious admissions criteria.

Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE said the research “exposed the hypocrisy of those who claim religiously selective schools serve the community at large”.

“It reveals that they not only further segregate children on religious and ethnic grounds, but also are skewed towards serving the affluent at the expense of the deprived,” he said.

Chief executive of the British Humanist Association Andrew Copson said the finding made clear “the devastating effects that faith-based admissions have in segregating communities along socio-economic and ethnic lines”.

“The scale of the problem demands not voluntary effort by religious groups but legislation – government should act now to make these divisive effects impossible by removing the possibility of religious selection in state-funded schools,” he added.

Labour Humanists have called on the party to include opposition to discrimination in admissions by faith schools in its manifesto for the 2015 general election.

10 Responses to “Today’s other education story: faith schools discriminating against poor pupils”

  1. CofE Education

    200 years ago, the Church of England provided the first national system of
    schools, specifically designed to provide an education for the poor. Today,
    church schools still enable children from disadvantaged backgrounds to succeed.

    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.

    Church schools also reflect today’s diverse society. The latest national
    data, published in the Department of Education’s 2013 School Census, shows that
    CofE Secondary schools serve almost exactly the same percentage of Black or
    Minority Ethnic, (BME), pupils as Non-CofE Secondary schools (CofE 25% – non
    CofE 26%).

    Children of Christian faith, of other faiths and of none all attend church
    schools and benefit from the excellent education they provide.

  2. Fair Admissions Campaign

    A CofE secondary may typically admit as many pupils eligible for free school meals as the national average, but this is a misleading comparison as it is more likely to be in a wealthy area than the average school. If you compare CofE schools to their local areas you find that overall they admit 10% fewer pupils eligible for free school meals than would be expected. Schools with no religious character admit 11% more.

    In addition, while CofE secondaries whose admissions policies don’t religiously select admit 4% more pupils eligible for free school meals than would be expected, those whose admissions policies allow for full religious selection admit 31% fewer.

    See for more.

  3. Kryten2k35

    Children are too young to decide for themselves what faith they are, if any. If a child is Christian, it’s not by the grace of god they are, it’s because their parents indoctrinated them from an early age.

    It’s cruel, unfair, and child abuse. Marring some children for the rest of their natural lives. Children, as with all people, should be able to decide for themselves if they have faith in a supernatural being.

    Finally, I’d have no problem with CoE, Catholic, Muslim or Jewish schools in the UK, if they taught the exact same syllabus as a public school. These faith schools pay a lot of attention to Religious Education lessons. Some go as far as trying to teach Creationism in Science classes. Muslim faith schools are mind blowing.

    Keep your religion away from Children, you despicable people.

  4. swatnan

    Its been known for a while that Faith Schools discriminate, particularly the RC and Jewish Schools, but I’m surprised at the Muslim Schools discriminating. It just shows that the whole system of ‘Faith Schools’ stinks, and should be done away with altogether.

  5. David Pollock

    Either the Church of England Education Department has not read (or understood?) the research or else this is a dishonest reply.

    What this research did for the first time was to look at admissions to faith schools in the context of their local communities. Of course if your schools are mainly in inner cities you will have an above-average intake of children eligible for free school meals – but those schools may well take fewer FSM children than the average for their own neighbourhoods.

    The new figures prove that this is what the C of E’s selective schools do: those that don’t select (mainly voluntary controlled schools where admissions are run by the local authority) admit 4% more FSM children than the local average – but the church’s selective schools (mainly voluntary aided) admit 31% fewer.

    And if the C of E wants to use its history as a shield let it face up to the fact that its running battle with the free churches over who should control schools throughout the 19th century delayed state universal education in England and Wales for decades: to quote two sympathetic commentators, Brian Gates wrote: “Arguably, it was the tussling between [the churches] that delayed the introduction of a fully comprehensive school system funded by public taxation.” Or Marjorie Cruickshank: “Attempts to secure State intervention were baulked for many years by religious antagonisms.” Today it is just the same: the C of E sees evangelism through its schools as its route to survival. Why should we poay for that?

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