The Accord Coalition has urged political and religious leaders to reduce religious barriers in Britain’s education systems, following concerns over rising levels of social tension in Britain following last summer’s referendum on United Kingdom membership of the European Union.
Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘Leaders from across Britain’s religious and political spectrums have spoken out about the recorded increase in religiously and ethnically motivated crime, yet Britain’s own state funded school systems are systemically discriminatory towards those deemed to be the ‘wrong faith’ or ‘no faith’ in religiously selective schools.’
‘Opposition to discrimination is to be welcomed, and it should be applied consistently. State funded schools should not segregate or disadvantage children on account of their religious or ethnic background, which is bad for equality of opportunity and cohesion in society. Rather than opening more discriminatory faith schools, political and religious leaders should ensure all religiously selective state funded faith schools are made more inclusive as a matter of urgency.’
Just over a year ago the Accord Coalition released a ground breaking report ‘Racial discrimination by religiously selective faith schools: a worsening problem’ which revealed how faith selection by state funded schools in England has become a major source of indirect racial discrimination in society, and so is undermining Government integration and extremism strategies. Over a third of all state funded schools in England are faith schools, over 98% of which are Christian.
The report set out how faith schools often get better exam results because they admit a socially exclusive intake and how religious selection is most prevalent at high performing faith schools, meaning non-Christians are losing out on places at many of the best schools in the country. Many of those children being disadvantaged were found to be of South Asian heritage and come from Muslim families.