Call for concrete safeguards for community schools joining faith Academy chains

July 4, 2013

crayon-rainbowThe Accord Coalition – which campaigns for inclusive education – is deeply concerned that the agreement by the Education Secretary for community schools to join Church of England Academy trusts could lead to an escalation in narrow and exclusive practises in the English School system. Speaking to The Times (£) yesterday, the Bishop of Oxford and Chair of the Church of England’s Board of Education, the Right Rev John Pritchard, revealed that the Department for Education would be allowing community schools to join Church of England Academy chains, but not require the schools to change their admissions policy, religious education lessons or teachers’ employment terms.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, said ‘This is an astonishing development that has caught everyone by surprise. The public wants inclusive schools, not for the Department for Education to help further entrench exclusivity, but these hopes may now be in danger. Why has there been no public consultation – either at local or national level – on such a far-reaching change in education?

‘It is vital that the Secretary of State reassures the public that there will be no mono-religious infiltration into the governance of schools that currently serve pupils of all faith backgrounds and bring together families from a wide section of society. We call on him to publish guidelines that will guarantee that community schools joining a faith Academy chain will still admit pupils without faith discrimination, employ teachers from all backgrounds, select governors without recourse to religious belief or practice, and provide an inclusive curriculum, including in Religious Education lessons and assemblies.’



A November 2012 ComRes poll commissioned by the Accord Coalition 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’, half (50%) stated that they agreed “strongly”. Only 18% of respondents disagreed. ComRes interviewed 2,008 adults online between 2nd and 4th November 2012:

A July 2010 YouGov poll commissioned by the Accord Coalition found that 43% of GB adults agreed (to 30% against) that the laws that require schools to provide daily collective worship, including in faith schools, should be replaced by a requirement that they hold assemblies which consider spiritual, moral and ethical issues shared by different religions and by those who are not religious. YouGov interviewed 2114 adults between 16th and 18th July 2010:

A June 2009 poll commissioned by the Accord Coalition found that 72% ‘agreed or strongly agreed’ that “all state funded schools should operate recruitment and employment policies that do not discriminate on grounds of religion or belief”, with only 9 % disagreeing or strongly disagreeing. YouGov interviewed 2083 adults between 3rd and 5th of June 2009:

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