The Accord Coalition says it is delighted – but also disappointed - by the Church Schools Awards, which will be announced on Thursday.
“We welcome this attempt to celebrate local community work and global citizenship,” said Accord Coalition Chair, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, commenting on the awards due to be presented for the first time on 24 March 2011.
“However, we regret that a key criteria missing from the eligibility requirements for this award is that schools should follow fair admissions and not discriminate against pupils of no faith or the 'wrong faith'," he added.
"Equally absent was a commitment by schools not to discriminate against employing teachers who do not follow a particular faith,” said Dr Romain.
The Accord Coalition links both religious and non-religious organisations in campaigning for inclusive education, and against discrimination in all schools on grounds of religion and belief.
Accord's own award for inclusivity - which is open to all schools, not just religious foundation ones, and which has fair admissions and employment amongst its criteria - was established two years ago.
Simon Barrow, co-director of the Christian think-tank Ekklesia, one of the founding members of the Accord Coalition, commented: “Many church schools do not operate discriminatory admissions policies, even though the current law allows them to. It is a shame that their choice to include rather than exclude is not being acknowledged by the way the Church Schools Awards have been set up.”
“Britain is a mixed belief and multi-cultural society where social cohesion is ever more important,” declared Dr Romain.
”It is sad – not least for people of faith - that religious schools should remain the last bastion of discrimination in the state system,” he concluded.
* The Church Schools Award website can be found at http://www.churchschoolawards.com/
* The Accord Colaition website: http://accordcoalition.org.uk/
* 'Schools coalition announces winners of 2011 Inclusivity Awards': http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/14275
* Databank of independent evidence on faith schools - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/research/independent_evidence_faith_schools