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One potential positive about the coalition Government's new agreement, is its policy on faith schools.
We highlighted the inherent tension in the Conservative policy before the election. On the one hand the Conservatives want faith groups to be able to run new schools. On the other, they have been reluctant to say that faith schools should be able to discriminate in admissions - and possibly employment. The Lib Dems, whilst supporting faith schools, have also been opposed to allowing faith schools to discriminate in such ways.
About a third of schools have a religious character, educating millions of children and employing thousands of teachers and support staff. Most faith schools are able to decide their own religious admissions criteria, hire staff according to their religion and determine their own syllabus for Religious Education. Because of all of this, any major schools reform will be profoundly shaped by the role of faith schools, whether or not politicians like to admit it.
Alex Kennedy at Accord (of which we were a founder member) has done some excellent work looking at religious admissions and social selection, in particular with regard to the extent to which faith schools take vulnerable children. It seems that faith schools take far fewer when compared to other schools of a non-religious character, particularly when it comes to measures such as free school meals or children with Special Educational Needs.