National integration charity joins calls for universal faith school discrimination cap

June 7, 2018

A leading integration charity, British Future, has praised the contribution ethnic mixing in schools makes towards integration and called for faith schools to not be permitted to select more than half of their pupils by religion. Responding this week to a consultation on the Government’s recently published integration Green Paper, the charity urges that the current cap preventing new faith academies from not selecting more than 50% of their pupils by faith should be extended to all types of state funded faith school.

The Government’s integration strategy was published in March and cites school segregation as a major challenge to improved integration. In May however the Department for Education announced it would be providing funding for a new wave of voluntary aided faith schools which can religiously discriminate when selecting up to 100% of their pupils. The financial support is to help some faith school providers get round the Government’s own academy faith school 50% discrimination cap.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, the Reverend Stephen Terry, said ‘The Government has rightly identified promoting ethnic mixing and avoiding segregation in the school system as a very important way to boost integration. At the same time it is also proposing to help groups exploit routes around its existing measures to inhibit segregation. This is contradictory, self defeating and must be changed.

‘The 50% religious discrimination cap at new academy faith schools has worked well and signals schools should at least seek to cater and bring together people from different backgrounds. The 50% cap should be extended to all faith schools in the interests of social cohesion, not evaded so some faith school providers can continue to isolate pupils of their faith from wider society.’

The Accord Coalition also responded to the Government’s integration strategy Green Paper this week. Its response highlights the broad academic consensus warning of dangers of ethnic segregation and promoting the benefits from ethnic mixing in schools for the growth of trust and mutual understanding between people from different backgrounds.

Among its recommendations, Accord urged that the 50% cap be extended to all state funded faith schools. It also recommended that the legal frameworks around Religious Education and assemblies be reformed, so all state funded schools are more religiously inclusive and so can be environments that facilitate greater mixing.


The UK is one of a very small number of developed countries that permits state funded faith schools to select pupils by faith.

A ComRes opinion poll that Accord commissioned in 2016 found religious discrimination in school admissions was opposed by 72% of the public, to 15% who supported it. It was also opposed by a majority of people of all major world faiths and Christian denominations in Britain.

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