Community schools will not be able to become faith Academies more easily says government

January 17, 2012

The government has confirmed that it will not be changing regulations to allow community schools to become both an Academy school and a faith school at the same time.

Currently maintained schools that wish to become an Academy and also be granted a faith designation have to hold separate consultations, but the December 23rd edition of the Times Educational Supplement quoted Rob Gwynne, the Church of England’s Head of School Strategy, as stating that ‘Discussions are in progress with the Department for Education about how the process for community schools wishing to become CofE faith academies can be made quicker and easier. At present, there have to be separate consultations’.

However, David McVean, the Department for Education’s head of School Choice, Organisation and Fair Access Division, yesterday revealed to the British Humanist Association (itself a member of the Accord Coalition) that while the government is planning a revision of relevant regulations and will be conducting a consultation over proposed changes in May, that there was ‘absolutely no intention’ to allow the two consolations to be combined, or to make it easier for community schools to become faith Academies.

The Accord Coalition wrote to the Secretary of State for Education on January 5th to register its deep anxiety over any moves to make it easier for community schools to become faith Academies. Academy faith schools are able to discriminate on the grounds of religion in pupil admissions and in the recruitment and employment of teachers, as well as teach what they like in Religious Education – there is no requirement that they teach about the range of beliefs held in society.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE said ‘It is pleasing that the government has been able to allay widespread concern that it might be helping facilitate a new boom in Academy faith schools. The government should be concentrating on making existing faith schools more inclusive, rather than opening  new ones that will operate in discriminatory and exclusive ways, and we will wait for its forthcoming consultation with interest’.

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