New databank of evidence on faith schools
The Accord Coalition which works for the reform of faith schools, and of which Ekklesia was a founder member, has published a comprehensive review of evidence on faith schools.
The major new resource of information collates a wide variety of contemporary evidence and research about information on the policy implications of state funded faith schools and their practice.
Accord’s ‘Databank of Independent Evidence on Faith Schools’ has been made freely available to help journalists, researchers, legislators and members of the public. All of the information dates from 2001 or later, and the majority was produced in the last three years. It draws on both religious and non-religious sources.
Topics covered in the report include research looking at faith school’s impact upon social and community cohesion, their level of attainment, religious discrimination in employment and admissions, the provision of Religious Education, Collective Worship, Sex and Relationships, as well as various statistical information and opinion polls.
One piece of evidence of particular note is the finding by the House of Commons library that overall faith schools have a lower proportion of pupils with SEN [special educational needs]. In 2008, 1.2 per cent of pupils at mainstream state faith schools had statemented SEN and 15.9 per cent unstatemented. This compares to 1.7 per cent statemented and 18.9 per cent unstatemented in schools with no religious character.
There has been a lot of anecdotal evidence from parents who have approached church schools (via local authorities who have the duty to place children with SEN) and found that the schools refuse to take them. The House of Commons Library report however, implies this is a wider pattern, which should be of great concern to the churches, whose schools claim to have an inclusive ethos.
The Accord Coalition’s ‘Databank of Independent Evidence on Faith Schools’ can be accessed via http://accordcoalition.org.uk/evidence-on-faith-schools/.
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