Study fnds reform of faith schools would better serve pupils and society

By agency reporter
October 17, 2018

A new investigation has concluded the legal and policy framework around faith schools in England is overly deferential towards parental choice and gives too little consideration to the interests of individual pupils and wider society. The study How to regulate faith schools is the culmination of a three year project into faith schools policy undertaken by a group of academics based at Warwick University.

Published on 14 October 2018, the study explores philosophical principles that should inform education. The authors warn schools policy is threatened by narrow interests and finds current legislation does not properly uphold the autonomy and agency of individual pupils. It also argues the state should do more to ensure faith schools better promote civil and moral capabilities that support living in a diversez liberal democracy. Its key policy recommendations include:

  • extending to all state funded faith schools the current 50 per cent religious discrimination in admissions cap that currently only applies to faith free schools, to help promote greater ethic mixing in the school system
  • permitting faith schools to provide collective worship but only outside of normal school hours
  • prohibiting state funded schools from providing directive religious teaching that seeks to achieve religious commitment
  • providing all children, including those who are home educated, with an entitlement to an education about civic, religious, ethical and moral values, which would seek to motivate children to comply with democratic institutions, as well as respect and treat equally those of different backgrounds and lifestyles
  • independent religious schools should comply with the same regulations as state funded ones if they wish to continue to qualify for charitable status

Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, the Rev Stephen Terry, said: The report highlights how England’s school system is treating people unfairly and not better promoting social cohesion because of vested interests. It provides a refreshing examination of the principles that should underpin education policy and puts forward a range of workable solutions. If the school system is to be more inclusive and operate in less anti-social ways then these recommendations must be taken seriously by government."

* Read the study How to regulate faith schools here

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

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