Accord queries faith school community cohesion claim during parliamentary debate

July 23, 2013


The issue of religiously selective admission arrangements at faith schools was debated in the House of Lords yesterday, following a question tabled by Fair Admissions Campaign supporter, Joan Bakewell. In total, ten Peers from the Lord’s five largest groupings made contributions to the debate.

Baroness Bakewell started the debate by asking the Government if it had plans to encourage religiously selective schools to adopt a more open admissions policy, and whether it believed children should be integrated or segregated. In reply, Lord Nash said the Government ‘supports inclusive admission arrangements’ and believed ‘strongly that one of the secrets for success in this country is that children should be integrated’.

In a response to a question about community cohesion, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools, Lord Nash, stated that ‘A 2009 independent report commissioned by the Church of England analysed OFSTED’s judgements on schools’ promotion of community cohesion. The report found that for secondary schools, faith schools contributed more highly to community cohesion than community schools’.

Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, said ‘Accord was very disappointed that the Education Act 2011 removed OFSTED’s requirement to inspect upon the contribution made by schools to community cohesion. However, when OFSTED inspected on this measure they took no account of the impact of school’s admissions policies, assemblies or the Religious Education they provided, which are vitally important areas when considering the effect schools may have on social cohesion. Rather than quote the results of an inspection measure it took away, the Government should instead reintroduce it, and this time make sure that inspections on the measure offer much more meaningful information for parents, local communities and government.’

During the debate Baroness Richardson highlighted how not all schools of a religious character select on faith grounds. Meanwhile, Lord Dubs argued that Northern Ireland’s heavily religiously segregated school system was a contributing factor to the providence’s community tensions and that the experience offered an ‘ominous lesson’ to Great Britain.



Back in June the Accord Coalition co-founded the Fair Admissions Campaign, an ecumenical campaign focused solely on reducing and preventing state funded faith schools in England and Wales selecting pupils on the ground of religion, and unwelcome consequences of this selection.

The Church of England’s November 2009 reports ‘Strong schools for strong communities’ can be found at:

Yesterday’s debate can read in Hansard under the section ‘Schools: Admission Policies’  at

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