Church schools and the reality of religiously-based selection

By staff writers
November 19, 2013

In addition to challenging the misuse of statistics in recent claims about Church of England Schools, the The Fair Admissions Campaign, of which Ekklesia is part, has recently highlighted a number of Church schools that are highly selective in their admissions.

For example, Twyford Church of England High School in Ealing gives priority in its admissions to pupils whose parents participate in ‘voluntary service’ such as ‘Bell ringing’, ‘Flower arranging at church’, ‘Assisting with collection/counting money’, ‘Tea and coffee Rota’, ‘Church cleaning’, ‘Church maintenance’ and ‘Parish Magazine Editor’ and ‘Technical support’ (http://fairadmissions.org.uk/acclaimed-church-of-england-high-school-sel...).

Further highly socio-economically selective schools are highlighted at http://fairadmissions.org.uk/fair-admissions-campaign-reveals-the-50-seg...

In a recent letter published in The Times newspaper, the Rev Edmund Cargill Thompson writes: "I have recently become Vicar of St Peter’s Church Eaton Square with its attached primary school. We are extremely diverse precisely because we admit on the basis of church attendance. About 30 different ethnic backgrounds are represented in the school. We draw people from Kennington, Vauxhall and the council houses of Pimlico. The children of millionaires mix with those on free school meals. If our school admitted solely on grounds of distance, we would be entirely white and entirely millionaires."

However, the school in question has just 9.72 per cent of pupils eligible for free school meals. In the school's immediate vicinity the figure is 47 per cent – in other words, 37 percentage points fewer pupils eligible for FSM than locally, which in fact makes it the eleventh most socio-economically selective primary in the country.

The Fair Admissions Campaign wants all state-funded schools in England and Wales to be open equally to all children, not selective on the basis of religion or belief.

The Campaign is supported by a wide coalition of individuals and national and local organisations. It holds diverse views on whether or not the state should fund faith schools. But its supporters 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 separation, all of which are harmful to community cohesion.

Supporters of the Fair Admissions Campaign include the Accord Coalition, Professor Ted Cantle and the iCoCo Foundation, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, British 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 Association, Liberal Youth, the Local Schools Network, Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, the Runnymede Trust, the Socialist Educational Association, the British Humanist Association, and the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches.

* Fair Admissions Campaign: http://fairadmissions.org.uk

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