Faith schools offered full state funding and the ability to be as or more discriminatory if they become an academy

February 1, 2019

The Department for Education has this week made a fresh appeal for more local authority maintained faith schools to become academies, but not made any corresponding demands that the schools should operate in more inclusive ways. The move risks boosting religiously narrow and discriminatory practises in the school system due to fewer safeguards that academy faith school need to adhere to. It also risks an increased subsidy of discriminatory schools as academy faith schools are entirely funded by the tax payer.

Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, the Revd Stephen Terry, said ‘The Government should be encouraging and supporting religiously and ethnically exclusive schools in better promoting mixing and understanding on these grounds. It instead appears to be trying to tempt faith schools into bolstering its flagging academy programme by the allure of full state funding and the ability to be as or even more discriminatory.’

‘This sends out a terrible message and is at odds with the Government’s integration Green Paper, which frames schools as having a major role in boosting integration and cohesion over the years ahead.  The Department for Education is losing sight of the needs of our increasingly diverse  and divided society. Future generations will not thanks us for this counterproductive and unfair use of public resources.’

Ways maintained and academy faith schools differ
Local authority maintained faith schools (foundation, voluntary controlled and voluntary aided schools) and academy faith schools (which includes free schools) can operate in a range of different ways. Foundation and voluntary controlled faith schools are usually not permitted to operate a religiously discriminatory admissions policy and must follow a Religious Education syllabus determined by its local authority (which is normally broad and balanced). Voluntary aided faith schools can select pupils by faith and can determine their own Religious Education syllabus (which can be instructional and ignore beliefs not shared by the schools), but are required to meet 10% of their capital costs.

Academy faith schools can religiously select pupils, determine their own Religious Education syllabus and have their full running costs met by the tax paper. In contrast to other types of faith school, all governors at academy faith schools can be selected or disbarred from serving on account of their religion beliefs.

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