First fully selective faith school in nearly a decade to be fully state funded

March 9, 2020
Peterborough City Council is to meet 10% of a new religiously discriminatory faith school’s start-up costs which the Department for Education assumed would be met by the school’s faith sponsor. The move means that the school, which is due to be the first new state funded school in England in over a decade that can operate a fully discriminatory admissions policy, is set to be entirely funded by the taxpayer.

The revelation also follows findings released by the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education in November that, as a whole, discriminatory state funded faith schools in England were only meeting a tiny fraction of their costs and contributing a lot less than they used to. When faith schools were first brought into the state system they were expected to contribute to half of their capital costs but, without public debate, this has been steadily whittled down and down.

In response, Chair of the Accord Coalition, the Revd Stephen Terry, said ‘State funded schools should serve people of different religions and beliefs equally and fairly. It is perverse any should be allowed to discriminate and segregate on faith grounds in our diverse society, and increasingly at the full expense of the taxpayer.’

‘This latest news highlights how government is permitting narrow and divisive lobbies to dominate the school system. It should trigger fresh debate about how state funded faith schools are operating and how they may play a more inclusive role in serving local communities and different families.’

Since 2011 almost all new state funded schools in England have been free schools and those which are faith based have been subject to a 50% religious discrimination in admissions cap. As with most other state funded schools, they have their full costs – both revenue and capital costs – met by the state.

In 2018, the Department for Education decided not scrap its 50% cap, but to instead meet 90% of the capital costs of a new wave of voluntary aided faith schools. These schools can operate a fully religiously discriminatory oversubscription policy, have their revenue costs met by the taxpayer, but their faith sponsors were expected to meet the remaining 10% of capital costs.

In June 2019 the Department revealed that the proposed Peterborough primary school was the first voluntary aided faith school it had approved funding for ‘in principle’, while last month Peterborough Council gave its formal approval for the plan. The Hampton Waters Roman Catholic School is now set to open in Peterborough for September 2022.

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