Religious segregation advocate joins Department for Education Board

April 17, 2020

The former Director of the New Schools Network and Joint Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Theresa May, Nick Timothy, has been appointed to the Board of the Department for Education this week. The former political advisor publicly advocated in 2016 that the 50% religious selection cap at faith free schools should be scrapped while as head of the New Schools Network, the government funded charity seeking to support groups wishing to set up free schools. He later became associated with supporting religious and academic selection by schools during Theresa May’s ministries, which sought to increase these forms of selection.

Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, the Rev Stephen Terry, said ‘Many Conservatives recognise risks to social cohesion from state funded schools dividing pupils on faith grounds in our increasingly diverse society. Consequently, it was a Conservative led Government in 2010 that introduced the 50% religious selection cap at faith free schools, which has worked well, proven popular and been maintained by subsequent administrations. Accord urges the Government not to unpick its own record, but to make schools more religiously inclusive and so leave future generations with stronger foundations.’

A 2017 opinion poll commissioned by Accord found that 80% of the public preferred that the 50% religious selection cap at faith free schools should be maintained rather than scrapped. Among numerous sources of research that highlight problems of religious inequality in the school system includes a 2018 report commissioned and published by the Department for Education, which found both minority ethnic and economically deprived families still had a significantly reduced chance of getting their children into state funded faith schools.

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