Accord Coalition launches campaign to end religious discrimination in school admissions

November 1, 2011

The Accord Coalition has today launched a local campaign initiative to stop religious discrimination in the pupil admissions of voluntary controlled faith schools, which comprise of over a third of the state funded faith schools in England and Wales.

Voluntary controlled faith schools are different from all other types of state funded faith school in that their pupil admissions policy is not self-determined, but are controlled by their local council. However, a significant minority of councils still allow their local voluntary controlled schools to select on religious grounds when oversubscribed. This has led to children who live near to such schools – but who are deemed to be of ‘the wrong faith’ or no faith at all – being unable to gain entry and forced to travel to schools further away.

As the admission policy of these schools is determined locally, the opportunity exists for local residents who object to religious discrimination in pupil admissions to urge and lobby their council to ensure these schools are inclusive and open to all children, regardless of their family’s religious beliefs.

The initiative has been launched on November 1st to coincide with the first day of the statutory period when local authorities can hold a consultation to change the admission policies of local schools.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain said ‘Many people who value faith are appalled that state funded faith schools are able to discriminate on religious grounds in their admission policy. Not only is it discrimination, but segregating children as they grow up on religious lines risks creating problems for future generations by undermining social cohesion.

‘However, few realise that local councils control the admission policy of over a third of all state funded faith schools, and that with concerted local pressure these schools can be made to be inclusive.

‘Accord and it supporters remain committed to campaigning to change the law and removing the exemptions from equality law that allow faith schools to discriminate in this way. However, in the meantime the opportunity exists for many of us to advance this struggle in our own local communities, and we urge people to take action and do so. Religious discrimination in state funded schools should be opposed in every way and on every front.’



More information on Accord’s campaign, including a list of ‘offending’ local authorities and a campaign guide for activists, can be found at

Research by the Accord Coalition in 2011 showed that 137 of the 174 local authorities responsible for education in England and Wales had one or more voluntary controlled faith school in their jurisdiction, and furthermore, that 43 of these authorities (listed in the table below) permitted religious discrimination in these school’s oversubscription admission arrangements of some kind.

A local authority’s consultation to change local admissions must last for a minimum of eight weeks and take place between 1st November and 1st March.

One Response to Accord Coalition launches campaign to end religious discrimination in school admissions

  1. bjork sabino on November 1, 2011 at 11:46 am

    no to religious founded state schools, no to discriminitation on religious ground, and especially on non-religious ground. no to creationist teaching, no to layers.

    yes to inclusion, yes to evolutionary study,yes to science and discovery, yes to fair treatment of all children

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