Faith schools again found to ethnically and socio-economically segregate

March 23, 2017

A new investigation into the changing pattern of segregation in England’s state funded school system has found that faith schools continue to be a major source of socio-economic and ethnic division. Due to the overall levels of division discovered at schools the study has called for government agencies, individual schools and school sponsors – including faith groups – to take action to combat segregation.

The report ‘Understanding School Segregation in England: 2011 to 2016‘, which has been published today, was produced by integration charity The Challenge, community cohesion research body the iCoCo foundation, and the education data analyst website SchoolDash. The report’s statistical analysis comparing the profile of schools with their local area finds that:

  • ‘Across all schools in 2016, 26% of primary schools and 40.6% of secondary schools were found to be ethnically segregated or potentially contributing to segregation by our measure;’ (p13)
  • ‘29.6% of primary schools and 27.6% of secondary schools were found to be segregated by socio-economic status, using FSM [children’s free school meal] eligibility as a proxy’ (p13)
  • ‘Faith schools at primary are more ethnically segregated than schools of no faith (28.8% of faith schools compared with 24.5% of those of no faith) when compared with neighbouring schools. This is particularly pronounced for Roman Catholic schools’ (p15)
  • ‘At primary level, faith schools are more likely to cater to more advantaged students, with 4.4% of faith schools having a high FSM intake compared with nearby schools, versus 11.4% for non-faith. This is particularly pronounced for Roman Catholic schools … The relationship at secondary level is similar but not as strong’ (p16)

Chair of the Accord Coalition Inclusive Education said ‘Society needs to urgently challenge the prevailing culture that says it is ‘okay’ for state funded schools to be seen as belonging to and serving certain groups. Achieving this must include changing how faith schools currently select their pupils. This is because faith schools comprise a third of state funded schools in England, and as religious selection of children has yet again be found to be ethnically and socio-economically divisive. Otherwise we risk only compounding disadvantage and leaving a legacy of fragmentation and division for future generations.’

The report recommends that action to combat segregation be taken, including that:

  • ‘… the Government should set a clear direction to reduce the growth of school segregation and to reduce segregation wherever it is at a high level and encourage all agencies to act accordingly’
  • ‘Local Government, faith authorities, academy chains, and individual schools should review practice, not only in relation to individual schools but also to consider the impact upon neighbouring schools
  • ‘School Governors should publish a clear commitment to this end and be required to publish details of their intake, comparing trends over time and taking responsibility for them.’

2 Responses to Faith schools again found to ethnically and socio-economically segregate

  1. Anon on March 31, 2017 at 7:54 am

    Please tackle the issue of the Church’s support for grammar schools.

    It isn’t fair that sharp elbowed curates might get Church bursaries for their own children to attend independent primary schools then be able to make best use of grammar schools.

    I am convinced curates work in grammar schools only to gain the social edge to prepare their own child’s passage to privilage.

    Grammar schools cause divisions in the most fragile communities and perpetuate social isolation.

    How can curates purport to support children who come from deprived parts of town whilst gaming the system? This smoke in mirrors tactic would suggest bigger issues around ordination into a Christian institution.

  2. Anon on April 7, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    According to the TES article (link above), the CofE aren’t interested in reintroducing grammar schools, but they make no reference to existing grammar schools and segregation at 10 years old.

    With regards to all schools – church or otherwise – benefiting from having a chaplain on the staff, it is extremely unlikely that “otherwise” secondary modern schools in economically deprived areas will attract chaplains. If the commentator were sincere he would challenge existing segregation.

    Not only does the Church of England avoid the issue of existing segregation between grammar schools and their secondary modern school counterparts, his rhetoric on academic ability does not translate into a vision for developing schools where all children learn together, including chaplains’ children.

    In terms of the future, would not fully inclusive comprehensive schools be more in the spirit of love thy neighbour?

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