Accord Coalition backs new campaign to stop religious selection in pupil admissions

June 5, 2013
Accord Chair, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, speaking at today's launch of the Fair Admissions Campaign, along side Chair of the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, Jeremy Rodell, and founder of the Institute of Community Cohesion (iCoCo) Professor Ted Cantle CBE.

Accord Chair, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, speaking at today’s launch of the Fair Admissions Campaign, along side Chair of the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, Jeremy Rodell, and founder of the Institute of Community Cohesion (iCoCo), Professor Ted Cantle CBE.

The Accord Coalition welcomed the launch today of the Fair Admissions Campaign, a new single issue and ecumenical campaign focused solely on reducing and preventing state funded faith schools in England and Wales selecting pupils on the ground of religion, and the unwelcome consequences of this selection in terms of religious, ethnic, social and economic segregation.

While the Fair Admissions Campaign would welcome legislative change to end such selection, other goals include persuading Dioceses and individual religiously selective schools to embrace open/more open admission arrangements, and to encourage local campaigns seeking to ensure that local schools are made inclusive.

The Campaign is so far backed by a number of other civil society groups, including the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the British Humanist Association, British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, and both the Labour and Liberal Democrat education associations. The groups have also been joined by Professor Ted Cantle CBE.

Professor Cantle is a leading expert on community cohesion and inter-cultural relations, and has made a significant contribution to the debate about the effect that schools may have on these issues. He set up the Institute of Community Cohesion (iCoCo) at the University of Coventry in 2006, and wrote the ‘The Cantle Report’, which was commissioned by the Home Office and published in 2001 after race riots in Bradford, Leeds, Oldham and Burnley that year. The report popularised the term community cohesion and cited religious and ethnic fragmentation as an underlying cause of the unrest.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, said ‘Campaigning to end religious discrimination in pupil admissions is one of Accord’s key aims, and we are delighted to work with others to drive this strand of our work forwards. Religiously selective schools entrench religious discrimination in the very institutions that should be equipping pupils for respectful engagement with the challenges of living in a mixed-belief society. Children should not be the victim of discrimination by schools, and nor should discrimination be a part of school life, least of all in the name of religion.’

A number of Accord’s supporters have come out in support of the Fair Admissions Campaign today. Rector of the Parish of Aldrington in Hove and former faith school Chair of Governors, the Rev Stephen Terry, said ‘Faith selection at Church of England schools make the Church appear defensive and inward looking, when the schools should look outwards, as an expression of the warmth and generosity of our mission to the whole community. Having open admissions would not only serve local communities better, but would undoubtedly help to achieve a more positive image and reputation for the Church in our society. I hope more Dioceses and Church Schools will critically engage with the issues that the Fair Admissions Campaign is raising.’

Executive Director of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists, the Rev Steve Dick, said ‘Faith supported schools make a meaningful contribution to society only if their admission policies do not discriminate on religious grounds.  Division and discord in our larger community grows in part from seeds sown by those who are only willing to teach and support those whose believe as they do.  If there is to be any hope of peace between people, faith groups need to model the golden rule by sharing our good works, such as the gift of education, with all regardless of their understandings of spirituality.’

 

Notes

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. The full survey results and field work data can be found here. ComRes interviewed 2,008 adults online between 2nd and 4th November 2012. Data was weighted to be demographically representative of all British adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

4 Responses to Accord Coalition backs new campaign to stop religious selection in pupil admissions

  1. […] today joined the Fair Admissions Campaign – a single issue and ecumenical campaign that Accord co-launched in June, which aims to open up all state-funded schools to all children, without regard to religion. The […]

  2. […] in Solihull. The local campaign is affiliated to the Fair Admissions Campaign, which Accord co-launched in June. It complained that Tudor Grange, a secondary school, had made a religiously selective […]

  3. Alun Llewelyn on July 7, 2014 at 7:28 pm

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