The Accord Coalition has urged Isle of Wight Council to maintain the provision of places at non-faith schools in the west of the Island following the authority’s recent proposal to close the only community primary school there.
The Council is seeking to reduce the provision of primary schools places, as there are currently more places available than needed. The authority has recently published a consultation document that explores a range of possible options, but which recommends that Weston Community Primary School be closed, while the two other primary schools in the Freshwater and Totland areas be retained, both of which are faith schools.
Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE said ‘Many faith schools work hard at being inclusive and ensuring that they provide a broad education about the beliefs of others. However, a great many more operate in narrow and exclusive ways, such as discriminating in their staff employment and pupil admissions on religious grounds and providing a narrow education about the range of religious and philosophical beliefs held in society.
‘We are therefore very concerned that the Council’s preferred option is to close Weston Community School and increase the proportion of places at schools that can operate in exclusive ways. A key part of the Council’s reasoning is that it believes government guidance compels it to sustain the proportion of places at faith schools at the expense of other schools, which we believe is incorrect.
‘As the Council’s consultation document shows, there are a wide range of possible options and we have written to the Council urging that they choose one which maintains or increases the number of places at inclusive schools.’