Faith schools at the centre of school admissions cheating

January 12, 2022

A new survey conducted by the property search website Zoopla has today revealed that parents misrepresenting their religious beliefs is the most common way families cheat school admission rules. The company found that 24% of parents of school age children admitted to cheating admission arrangements and, of these parents, 27% confessed to having exaggerated their religious beliefs to get their child into a faith school.

The survey presents a fresh blow to state funded faith schools religiously selecting pupils and corresponds with earlier findings. Back in 2015 a survey commissioned by ITV found that of parents of primary school aged children, 12.6% admitted to having pretended to practice a faith in which they did not believe and 13.7% reported that they had baptised their child so that their child could access a desirable faith school. In 2018 meanwhile the education charity, The Sutton Trust, revealed that parents attending religious services to be the most common ‘ethically dubious’ strategy employed by families in England to secure admission to a preferred school.

Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, Simon Barrow, said ‘Faith schools should be bringing out the best in people, not leading them into temptation. It is corrosive and reputationally damaging that religiously selective faith schools should instead be facilitating widespread cheating.’

‘Religiously discriminatory admission policies are repeatedly shown to be more open to exploitation and abuse than other forms of pupil selection. It is therefore time for the religious authorities of faith schools to urgently act and phase out religiously discriminatory admission arrangements, in the interests of upholding public trust and the fairer life chances of children.’

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