Changing attitudes in society highlight urgency of need to reform faith school sector, warns Accord

January 25, 2013

A new survey conducted by YouGov for Prospect Magazine has revealed a plurality of British adults are opposed to state funded faith schools. The poll showed that 49% of people surveyed agreed that all state schools should be made ‘secular’ and that religious groups should have their links to state funded schools ‘stopped’. In contrast, 38% of people opposed this proposal.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, said ‘the poll findings should send a powerful message to both the Government and faith school sponsors about the pressing need to discuss openly the principle and effects of faith selection in pupil admissions. Our increasingly diverse society means that segregating children by faith is neither equitable nor helpful.

‘The poll demonstrates how attitudes in society have changed; the ability of schools to discriminate in admissions – that was once considered permissible – is no longer acceptable. If the faith school sector does not respond to these widespread concerns then it its very existence will be increasingly brought into question’.

In November 2012 an Accord commissioned poll by ComRes on religious selection in pupil admissions found that 73% of respondents agreed that ‘state funded schools, including state funded faith schools,  should not be allowed to select or discriminate against prospective pupils on religious grounds in their admissions policy’, including half (50%) who stated that they agreed “strongly”. Only 18% of respondents disagreed.

 

Notes

The data and full findings of the ‘Prospect Survey’ carried out by YouGov can be found here. The survey question on faith schools can found on page 5.

The poll is featured in the article ‘Our Schools ain’t broke’ by YouGov President Peter Kellner, which is to feature in the February edition of Prospect Magazine. The article is currently available behind a pay wall here.

The Accord Coalition does not take a position on the desirability of state funded schools having a religious or philosophical character. The full survey results and field work data of its November 2012 ComRes poll on religious selection in pupils admissions can be found here. ComRes interviewed 2,008 adults online between 2nd and 4th November 2012, and the poll was weighted to be demographically representative of British adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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