An open letter to the Church of England from a number of prominent Anglicans, published in The Guardian, urges the Church to change its guidance to Christian faith schools schools to encourage them to end religious selection in admissions. The Times has also published a letter from a Rabbi and a Reverend, setting out how there are religious and not only secular roots to opposition to discriminatory faith schools.
These letters demonstrate that opposition to the highly selective admissions policies adopted by many faith schools is shared by many, whether non-religious or religious.
However, it shouldn’t be left to religious authorities or the schools themselves to decide whether they wish to admit children from non-religious families, or those from a different religion to the school. Faith schools are state schools and it’s our position that no state-funded faith school should be allowed legally to have religiously selective admissions policies.
The available evidence demonstrates that religious selection criteria tend to be heavily weighted in favour of middle-class families. Schools selecting pupils on the basis of the professed faith of the parents are segregating children and young people along religious, socio-economic, cultural, and even ethnic lines. This is hugely divisive and self-evidently bad for social cohesion.
We would like to see a commitment from Labour to ensure all state-funded schools uphold principles of equality and do not discriminate on religious grounds in admissions.