Faith schools set to be entirely state funded due to Academisation

April 1, 2016

The Accord Coalition has urged for fundamental changes in the relationship between faith school sponsors and wider society due to Government plans to make all schools academies and so wholly state funded.

Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘The argument that faith schools should be allowed special privileges to operate in narrow or exclusive ways because they make a small contribution towards their own running costs will soon no longer exist. It is therefore right that this change in the relationship between faith school sponsors and society should prompt inquiry into how schools may better meet wider needs and challenges.

‘Given Britain’s increasing diversity and emphasis on equality of opportunity, we should ask if is appropriate for any state funded school to not seek to bring people of different beliefs and ethnicities together and to cater to them equally, and whether there is any justification why pupils should not be entitled to learn about a range of religious and non-religious beliefs in society? A new settlement around faith schools policy and Religious Education more generally is long overdue.’

Faith schools were first brought into the state maintained school system in England and Wales as a result of the 1944 Education Act. Most faith schools became designated as a Voluntary Aided (VA) school which ever since has offered the schools special freedom to employ and recruit all teachers on the grounds of religion, to admit pupils on religious grounds and to determine the nature of the Religious Education (or Religious Instruction) provided. In exchange, governing bodies were expected to meet 50% of the school’s capital expenditure costs. Capital costs usually comprise a small fraction of a school’s running costs.

Since 1944, and with no public debate, the required contribution towards capital spending has been steadily reduced. While the Regulatory Reform Order (Voluntary Aided Schools Liabilities and Funding) 2002 reduced the level from 15% to 10%, the figure now is usually below 10% as the Department for Education no longer requires VA schools to make a contribution towards most of the capital funding it makes available to them. When a school reopens as an Academy the government assumes responsibility for meeting all (100%) of capital costs.


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