Faith school sector overlooking those with greatest needs

November 18, 2016

crayon-photoAnalysis by the Accord Coalition of Department for Education statistics reveals that for every 5 pupils with a special educational needs (SEN) statement that non-faith mainstream schools admit, faith schools only admit 4.

The Department’s latest figures for state funded schools in 2016 – which are set out in the table below – show 1.25% of pupils at comprehensive faith schools had a SEN statement, compared to 1.54% of pupils at comprehensive schools without a religious character. SEN statements are provided for children by local education authorities. They state special needs that a child has and may specify help the child must receive from their school.

The findings were shared with Accord co-founder and national campaigner for the inclusion of disabled people in mainstream education, Jonathan Bartley. He commented ‘Faith schools should be prioritising those with greatest needs. That the faith school sector is noticeably less inclusive than non-faith schools will shock many people of faith.

‘Faith schools sponsors must take responsibility for the current situation. They should ask searching questions about why the sector should have become skewed towards serving the privileged, and what they can do to ensure the schools better uphold their mission.’

The latest analysis echoes detailed research from the Fair Admissions Campaign in 2013 which found a strong relationship between religious selection of pupils by faith schools and the schools having more socio-economically exclusive intakes. Non-religiously selective faith schools were found to admit 1% fewer children entitled to free schools meals than would be expected if they admitted local children. Faith schools with a religiously selective admission policy however typically admitted 30% fewer such children.


 Religious character

% of pupils with SEN statement at mainstream primary & secondary schools in England

 Grammar schools 0.24
 Faith schools (non-grammar) 1.25
        Church of England 1.23
        Roman Catholic 1.22
        Other faiths 1.60
 Non-faith comprehensive schools 1.54
 All mainstream schools net 1.44

2 Responses to Faith school sector overlooking those with greatest needs

  1. Bea on November 18, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    I don’t think you’ve drawn the correct conclusions from these statistics.

    Children with a statement of special educational needs quite rightly have top priority in the admission to any suitable school by law, and their local authorities fund their transport to get there. If there are fewer of these children at faith schools, to me that simply says that faith schools aren’t as popular with SEN families as non-faith schools.

    I fully expect the same would be true of the rest of us if we had as much admissions priority as SEN families. But we don’t and in many cases we have to reluctantly put up with the faith aspect of a school in order to get an education that is local, or of a reasonably acceptable standard.

    • Paul Pettinger on December 21, 2018 at 5:04 pm

      But surely most faith schools should be more suitable for people with special educational needs, not less.

      Matthew 19:14
      But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

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