New Academies risk huge escalation in both discrimination and deterioration

June 5, 2010

The Accord Coalition has issued a stark warning at the Government’s proposals for the lack of regulation of its new Academy schools.

The Government’s new Academies Bill, which enters its second reading in the House of Lords this Monday (June 7th) proposes to allow new Academy schools to opt out from teaching the National Curriculum and will indirectly allow all schools with a religious character that become a new Academy to have wide ranging power to discriminate against all teaching staff and applicants on religious grounds.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, the chair of the Accord Coalition, said ‘in the Government’s eagerness to give schools far greater operational freedom, they appear to be also freeing them from regulations that help ensure the education they provide is properly balanced, broad and does not promote extreme views. For example, the National Curriculum currently requires maintained schools to provide basic sex education in biology and prevents them from teaching creationism in science. Allowing new Academies to opt out of the National Curriculum will mean they no longer have to abide by such safeguards’.

‘The Bill also gives any school with a religious character that becomes an Academy the same legal status as an independent school with a religious character.  It means they will be exempt from several aspects of equality legislation and allowed to discriminate against applicants and staff that teach in their schools on the grounds of religion. A more accurate name for these ‘exemptions’ is ‘discrimination’ – they should be done away with altogether, not extended further to a large number of state funded schools’.

‘Furthermore, the Government has said that schools rated as “outstanding” will be “pre-approved” to become Academies and will never have to face an automatic Ofsted inspection ever again. In 2007 a legal duty was placed on all maintained schools in England to promote community cohesion.  It was introduced specifically to mitigate the damage that sectarian schools can have on community cohesion. Compliance with the duty is assessed by Ofsted and so it is very worrying that new Academy schools will no longer be required to show that they are improving community cohesion’.

‘However good a school is now, it is ludicrous that it should be permanently exempt from Ofsted inspection. No school should be afraid of inspection, and the promise of being free from supervision is a reckless invitation to drop standards’.

‘The Government urgently needs to amend its own legislation and provide an insurance that the creation of new Academy schools will not allow more discrimination on basis of religion in our schools, and that the education they provide, including the Religious Education, is truly broad and balanced’.


The Accord Coalition was launched in September 2008 to bring together religious and non religious organisations campaigning for an end to religious discrimination in school staffing and admissions. The coalition also campaigns for a fair and balanced RE curriculum, for pupils to receive Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education, the removal of the requirement for compulsory collective worship, but does not take a position for or against faith schools in principle. Its growing list of members and supporters include the British Humanist Association, the Christian think tank Ekklesia, the British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and members from all three of the largest parties in parliament.

To view information about the implications and unpopularity of discriminatory and exclusive practices employed in state education system, including in faith schools, please see our databank of independent evidence.

For further comment, contact Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain on 07770 722 893.

For further information, contact Paul Pettinger on 020 7462 4990.

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