Civic leaders speak out against new segregationist schools

April 15, 2019

Some of the open letter signatories (Accord’s thanks to Humanists UK for the image)

180 distinguished figures from across society have signed an open letter urging the Government not to open more state funded schools that can select up to 100% of their pupils on faith grounds. The wide range of signatories include educationalists, religious figures, scientists, philosophers, politicians, actors and civil rights campaigners. Published in yesterday’s Sunday Times, the letter was co-organised by the Accord Coalition and its member group, Humanists UK.

Since 2010 almost all new state funded faith schools in England have not been permitted to religiously select more than half of their pupils. Yesterday’s open letter follows a decision by the Government last May to facilitate the opening of local authority voluntary aided faith schools, which can be fully selective. In March the Government announcement 14 applications had already been received to open such schools.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, the Revd Stephen Terry, said ‘Existing state funded schools should be being made non-discriminatory and inclusive. We should not instead be opening new schools that can be fully religiously selective. This is an unwise and socially harmful move which should be resisted.’

‘Accord offers its thanks to its supporters and others who have added their name to the letter. As our own research shows, a large majority of people oppose state funded schools religiously selecting their pupils. The signatories help further highlight the wide body of opinion that believes it is a big mistake to open more segregationist and discriminatory schools.’

The letter and its full list of signatures are reproduced below:

‘We work in a variety of fields and have differing views on the question of faith schools. However, we all agree that, whatever their character, state schools should be inclusive, diverse and integrated, not exclusive, monocultural or segregated.

We are therefore extremely concerned that the government has decided to provide funding for new voluntary aided schools that will legally be able to select 100% of their pupils on religious grounds. The first applications are being considered at this moment.

Evidence shows that such schools separate pupils along not just religious but also ethnic and socioeconomic lines. This fundamentally threatens social cohesion. Monocultural schools simply cannot reproduce the benefits that come from learning alongside others holding differing beliefs, all day, every day.

Further, to be approved, the new schools are supposed to demonstrate they will “attract applications from all parts of the wider community”. But the requirement that such schools must be attractive to families outside particular religious communities, while simultaneously placing those families at the back of the queue for places, is patently unfair.

We urge the government to abandon its plans to create these schools. Instead we ask that all new schools are inclusive and welcoming to all children, irrespective of family background.

  • Revd Stephen Terry, Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education
  • Professor Alice Roberts, President, Humanists UK
  • The Rt Hon. the Lord Baker of Dorking CH, former Secretary of State for Education
  • Professor Becky Francis, Director, UCL Institute of Education
  • The Rt Revd. the Lord Harries of Pentregarth DD, former Bishop of Oxford
  • Lord Alf Dubs
  • Stephen Fry
  • Professor Jim Al-Khalili
  • Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, journalist, author and Chair of the British Muslims for Secular Democracy
  • Adèle Anderson
  • Professor Peter Atkins
  • David Baddiel
  • Julian Baggini
  • Baroness Joan Bakewell, co-Chair, All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group
  • Christina Baron, member of General Synod (Bath & Wells)
  • Simon Barrow, Director, Ekklesia
  • Dr Richard Bartle
  • Sian Berry AM, Green London Assembly Member and Co-Leader
  • Professor Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC (Hon)
  • Piers Bizony
  • Professor Simon Blackburn
  • Dr Susan Blackmore
  • Baroness Tessa Blackstone
  • Professor Sir Colin Blakemore FRS
  • Sir David Blatherwick
  • Sir Tom Blundell
  • Baroness Burt
  • Donald Cameron
  • Professor Colin Campbel
  • Andrew Copson, Chief Executive, Humanists UK
  • Professor Ted Cantle CBE, Chair of the iCoCo Foundation and national community cohesion and inter-cultural relations expert
  • Peter Cave
  • The Revd Jeremy Chadd , Vicar of St Chad, Sunderland
  • Professor Matthew Clayton
  • Sue Cook
  • Tom Copley AM, Labour London Assembly Member
  • Revd Roger Cornish (United Reformed Church)
  • Dr Helena Cronin
  • Helen Czerski
  • Sir Richard Dalton
  • Professor Richard Dawkins
  • The Lord Desai
  • Martin Doré, chair, Socialist Educational Association
  • Revd Marie Dove (Methodist)
  • Warren Ellis
  • Jonathan Emmett, children’s author
  • Dylan Evans
  • Stephen Evans, chief executive Officer of the National Secular Society
  • Dr Maria Exall, chair of the Trades Union Congress LGBT+ Committee
  • Baroness Shreela Flather DL
  • Kate Fox, social anthropologist and author
  • Revd Canon Jane Fraser, Manager of the education charity Bodysense
  • Professor Chris French
  • Rt Hon Lord Garel-Jones
  • The Rt Revd David Gillett, former Bishop of Bolton
  • Professor Jonathan Glover
  • Rabbi Dr David J Goldberg
  • Sir Francis Graham-Smith
  • Professor A C Grayling, philosopher and author
  • Professor David Hand
  • Professor Michael Hand
  • Baroness Angela Harris of Richmond DL
  • Dr Evan Harris, evidenced-based policy and human rights campaigner
  • Professor John Harris
  • The Lord Harrison
  • Tony Hawks
  • Dr Alan Haworth
  • Natalie Haynes
  • Savi Hensman, writer on Christian social ethics and theology
  • Symon Hill, Christian author
  • Ruth Hilton, Chair, JAT
  • Dr Theo Hobson, theologian
  • Jon Holmes
  • Martin Horwood, Lib Dem MP for Cheltenham 2005 -15
  • Rt Hon Dr Kim Howells, former Education Minister (1997 to 1998 and 2004 to 2005)
  • Lord Hughes of Woodside
  • Sunny Hundal, journalist and editor
  • Dr Julian Huppert
  • Virginia Ironside
  • Dr Michael Irwin
  • Professor M. Saiful Islam
  • Rabbi Dr. Margaret Jacobi
  • Dr Christian Jessen
  • Nigel Jones, chair, Lib Dem Education Association, and Methodist Local Preacher
  • Revd Richard Jones, Associate Minister, Hereford Diocese
  • Professor Steve Jones
  • The Lord Judd
  • Dr Omar Khan, Director, Runnymede Trust
  • Rt Hon Lord Kinnock of Bedwellty
  • Stephen Kinnock, MP
  • Revd Richard Kirker, former Chief Executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement
  • The Rt Hon. the Lord Knight of Weymouth, Minister of State for Schools 2006-2009
  • Hari Kunzru, novelist and journalist
  • Laura Lacole
  • Warren Lakin
  • Paul Lamb
  • Revd Peter Law-Jones (CofE)
  • Revd Cannon Peter Leonard, Chair of OneBodyOneFaith, and Acting Dean and
  • Canon Chancellor of Portsmouth Cathedral
  • The Baroness Lister of Burtersett CBE
  • Callum James Littlemore, co-Chair of the Young Liberals
  • Ken Loach
  • Naomi Long MLA, Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
  • Dr Caroline Lucas MP, former Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales
  • Sir Alasdair Macdonald, chairperson, New Visions for Education Group
  • Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate OBE
  • Melian Mansfield, chair, Campaign for State Education
  • Eddie Marsan
  • Professor Andrew Mason
  • Baroness Massey of Darwin
  • Lord Maxton
  • Derek McAuley, Chief Officer, General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches
  • Kerry McCarthy MP
  • Revd Iain McDonald (United Reformed Church)
  • Ian McEwan, author
  • Tim McGarry
  • Professor Patrick McKeown OBE
  • The Reverend Andrew McMullon (CofE)
  • Baroness Meacher
  • Jonathan Meades
  • Loic Menzies, Chief Executive of the Education and Youth ‘think and action-tank’ LKMco
  • Fiona Millar, journalist and education campaigner
  • Rabia Mirza, Director, British Muslims for Secular Democracy
  • Manzoor Moghal, Chairman, Muslim Forum
  • Fiyaz Mughal, Director of Faith Matters
  • Diane Munday
  • Professor the Baroness Murphy
  • Alan Murray, All Faiths and None
  • Issi Nash, Group Secretary to Rescue Our Schools
  • Jane Nicklinson
  • Professor Richard Norman
  • Eunan O’Kane
  • Lord O’Neill of Clackmannan
  • Dr Farid Panjwani, associate professor in Religious Education and Director of the Centre for Research and Evaluation in Muslim Education (CREME)
  • Carl Parsons, professor of Social Inclusion Studies, University of Greenwich
  • Sara Pascoe
  • Christina Patterson
  • Brian Pearce, former Chair of the Buddhist Council of Wales and Buddhist Chaplain to prisons in Wales
  • Martin Pendergast, Centre for the Study of Christianity & Sexuality
  • Sir Roger Penrose
  • Professor Kate Pickett
  • Chris Price
  • Haras Rafiq, CEO, Quilliam International
  • Viscount Ridley
  • Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, President of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education
  • The Rt Hon. the Lord Rooker
  • Professor Steven Rose
  • Nick Ross
  • Revd Prof. Christopher Rowland, Dean Ireland’s Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture Emeritus, University of Oxford
  • Martin Rowson
  • Michael Rubenstein
  • The Rt Hon Sir Stephen Sedley
  • Ariane Sherine
  • Dr Simon Singh MBE
  • Paul Sinha
  • Professor Stephen Smartt
  • Joan Smith
  • Prof. Lord Smith of Clifton, academic and former Vice Chancellor
  • The Lord Soley
  • Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou
  • Revd Tim Stead (CofE) John Swallow, former President of the National Association of Head Teachers
  • Professor Adam Swift
  • Joy Swift MBE
  • Professor Raymond Tallis
  • Peter Tatchell
  • The Lord Dick Taverne QC
  • Baroness Taylor of Bolton
  • Jamie Theakston
  • Revd Robert Thompson (CofE)
  • Baroness Glenys Thornton
  • Sandi Toksvig
  • Carole Tongue
  • Polly Toynbee
  • Anna Turley MP
  • Lord Andrew Turnbull KCB CVO
  • Stephen Volk
  • Revd Prof. Keith Ward, Christ Church, Oxford
  • Mike Watson, Labour Education Spokesperson, House of Lords
  • Baroness Whitaker
  • Revd Simon Wilson, Heacham, Norfolk (CofE)
  • Revd Claire Wilson (CofE)
  • Professor Richard Wiseman
  • Lord Wood of Anfield’

One Response to Civic leaders speak out against new segregationist schools

  1. Michael Stringer on April 17, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    Oh dear the same old group of loony lefties and Christian Atheists. How tedious.

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