Government urged to maintain 'discrimination cap' for faith scools

By agency reporter
January 6, 2018

The Children's Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) has urged the Government to maintain its current cap that limits faith Free Schools from not religiously discriminating when selecting more than half of their pupils. CRAE has offered its comments in its latest annual ‘State of Children’s Rights in England‘ report which examines the extent to which the Government is meeting its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

CRAE has warned that dropping the cap would lead to an increase in socio-economic disadvantage, religious segregation and undermine community cohesion. CRAE has drawn attention to research in support of its concerns including – somewhat awkwardly for the Government – research commissioned and released by the Department for Education last summer which found ethnically mixed schools promote mixing and more positive attitudes between people of different ethnicities, both in and outside of schools.

Accord Coalition Steering Group member, the Rev Stephen Terry, said "The Children Rights Alliance for England draws timely attention to the evidence base highlighting the social costs of allowing schools to religiously discriminate. Its recommendation that the Government’s 50 per cent cap should be maintained in the interests of community cohesion is to be welcomed.

"The proposal to scrap the cap sends a message of division: that it is okay for schools, in our increasingly diverse society, to choose segregation over integration and to create religious ghettos. Whatever happened to community cohesion?’

The Children Rights Alliance for England is a national charity and membership body that promotes children’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The 50 per cent religious discrimination cap was introduced for faith Free Schools in 2010. It was followed in 2011 by the introduction of a legal presumption that almost all new state funded schools should be Free Schools, meaning almost all new faith schools must be Free Schools and so subject to the cap.

In September 2016 the UK Government announced plans to drop the cap. In May 2017 Accord commissioned an opinion poll, conducted by Populus, which found 80 per cent of voters preferred that the 50 per cent discrimination cap was continued rather than scrapped.

* Read the CRAE's State of Children's Rights in England 2017  here

* Accord Coalition http://accordcoalition.org.uk/

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