Time to end discrimination by faith schools

By Simon Barrow
March 16, 2007

Ekklesia has welcomed a new statement and position paper by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), which has called on faith schools to end discrimination on grounds of religion and has suggested that they should stop receiving state funds if they do not.

"This is a constructive contribution to an important debate," said Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow. "Favouring children on grounds of their parents' attendance at church or another religious body is unfair and wrong. An increasing number of Christians and people of other faith communities are recognising that such discrimination contraicts the call for equal treatment within their traditions. It is not just the non-religious who oppose such practices."

As well as discriminating in school admissions in favour of children of parents who attend churches and similar bodies linked to schools, many faith schools are allowed to discriminate when they are employ staff. Voluntary aided faith schools can stipulate the beliefs of all their employees, and the fully local authority funded voluntary controlled faith schools are allowed to determine the faith of their head teacher.

"There is a strong case for saying that this is unChristian as well as unfair in publicly funded schools," added Barrow, who will speak at the ATL conference in April 2007.

See: Time to end discrimination by faith schools, says teaching union. ATL's position statement on faith schools can be accessed here.

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