Databank of information on faith schools policy and practice updated

June 1, 2012

Several fascinating new pieces of research on the impact of faith schools have just been added to the Accord Coalition’s research databank – which is now one of the most comprehensive sources of information on policy implications of the state funded faith school sector, and their practice.

New research added to the databank includes two pieces investigating how faith schools are increasingly serving children from middle class and aspirational families. ‘Praying for success? Faith schools and school choice in East London’, by Tim Butler and Chris Hamnett, highlights how faith schools in East London are becoming increasingly popular among more aspirational families as the schools themselves are more likely to be populated by pupils with parents with “broadly similar values about the importance of behaviour, discipline, aspiration”.

Meanwhile, thorough statistical research published and publicised by The Guardian newspaper in March shows that most faith schools in England admit a lower proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals (a government measure of deprivation) than both the average for their respective local authority area, and amongst children living in the school’s local postcode. This provides further evidence to support the claim that faith schools are increasingly serving the better healed in society, even though many Church schools were originally established to provide education for the poor.

When the Accord Coalition came into existence, it quickly became clear that there were a range of opinions swirling around about faith schools, but little hard data was widely available. A task that Accord has set itself is to create and maintain a publically available database of research for supporters, researchers and journalists to find out about the consequences of narrow and exclusive practices and policies at faith schools.

Topics covered in Accord’s databank of information includes research looking at the provision of Religious Education, Collective Worship, and Sex and Relationships Education in the school curriculum, as well as research looking specifically at faith school’s impact upon social and community cohesion, their levels of attainment, and religious discrimination in their employment arrangements and pupil admissions. The databank also contains a range of statistical information and opinion polls, and all of the information dates from 2001 or later, and the majority was produced in the last four years.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘Debate over faith schools suffers from people arguing from fixed ideological positions. The aim of this databank is to bring together and summarise high quality research from reliable and trusted sources on an ongoing basis. We hope that by helping to propagate this information Accord will continue to help give the debate around the role of religion and philosophy in education greater focus.’

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