School discriminates against evangelical Christian family

By staff writers
July 15, 2009

Evidence that church schools are routinely discriminating against Christians as well as those of other faiths and of no faith, came to light today with the news that a girl has been turned down for a place at a Wrexham faith school because she is the wrong kind of Christian.

Aston Padley, who is 11 years old, has been trying for some months to get into St Joseph's Catholic and Anglican School in Wrexham.

The local paper, the Evening Leader, reports that Aston has been refused admission, despite the fact she comes from a Christian family and her father is a lay preacher.

Her parents said Aston had been turned down on the grounds that she was not a from a Catholic or Anglican family.

Their experience is one shared by many other families who are rejected by church schools up and down the country because they are not Christians.

Under British law, church schools, although funded almost entirely by the taxpayer, can give priority in admissions to families who attend churches linked to the school.

Aston's parents have both been Christians for some time and along with their daughter, regularly attend the evangelical King's Christian Centre in Mold, which is a member of the Evangelical Alliance.

"Although he has not been ordained, my husband has been a lay preacher for a number of years and has preached at a number of churches in the area” Mrs Padley told the local newspaper.

"Given this, we find it bizarre that we cannot get our daughter in St Joseph's."

She added: "We have appealed against the decision but a few weeks ago, we lost the appeal.

"The situation seems so unfair when I have heard it said that some other parents get places at faith schools by simply having their child baptised and then taking them along to church a couple of times.

"Aston is a very bright child and has had a glowing report from her headteacher and we wanted to get her into St Joseph's for its Christian ethos.

"I know we are not the only parents in this position and it seems like discrimination against other Christian faiths."

Mr Padley said: "During the appeal the headteacher of St Joseph's defined a Catholic child as a baptised child.

"But, in my view, baptism might mean a great deal or it might mean nothing to some people.

"Our foremost reason for applying for St Joseph's was because of its Christian ethos rather than its academic record.

"I want to see the admission policy to faith schools changed locally and nationally."

Christian campaigning groups which highlight alleged discriminination against Christians are unlikely to take up the case, as the same groups have also vigorously defended the right of church schools to discriminate in admissions.

Some religious groups however, including the religious thinktank Ekklesia, are part of the coalition Accord which aims to make admissions policies fairer for faith schools and eliminate discrimination against Christians, as well as those of other religions and of no religion.

Jonathan Bartley, co-director of the religious thinktank Ekklesia said: “It isn’t just those of no faith who lose out as a result of the discriminatory policies of faith schools.

"The reality is that churches have fought hard to maintain the right of church schools to discriminate, not just against those of other faiths, and no faith, but against their own. Hopefully now through this case more people from the churches will realise that the law needs to change”.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.