Our Supporters

August 18, 2010


  • Professor Al-Khalili OBE, theoretical physicist, author and Science broadcaster

“‘Rather than to narrow horizons or divide, state funded schools should be made open and suitable for all, regardless of religion and belief. It is on this basis that I am very pleased to support the Accord Coalition, which seeks to ensure schools do not advocate a narrow or exclusive agenda, but better prepare children and young people for a life of respectful engagement in a mixed belief society in which all are free to question and be positively critical.”

Kenneth Baker photograph 2013
  • Lord Baker of Dorking, Conservative Peer and former Secretary of State for Education (1986-1989)

“Schools can have a powerful impact upon cohesiveness in society. I believe very strongly that children of all religions and beliefs – Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and atheists – should mix in schools, ensuring they grow up together, learning with and from one another.”

  • Baroness Tessa Blackstone, Labour Peer and Minister for Education (1997-2001) and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Greenwich

  • Professor Colin Blakemore, Fellow of the Royal Society and former chief executive of the British Medical Research Council (MRC)
Sir Peter Bottomley MP
  • Sir Peter Bottomley MP. Conservative MP since 1975 and active Anglican. Currently serving as a member of Parliament’s Ecclesiastical Committee, which examines measures put forward by the Church of England’s General Synod before they become law

Familiarity and knowledge should lead to respect and understanding; separation and ignorance can lead to prejudice and rejection. If we grow up together, we can grow together without any threat to the positive parts of our beliefs and customs.

Ted Cantle iCoCo Image
  • Professor Ted Cantle CBE, Chair of the Institute of Community Cohesion (iCoCo) Foundation and national expert on community cohesion and inter-cultural relations.

“We still have an alarming number of young people growing up in ignorance of ‘others’ and with little or no chance to dispel stereotypes and prejudices. Faith schools add to these divisions and the prospect of their expansion to all minority faiths, which cannot be denied to them, will create an even more balkanised community. The only solution is for a new open and mixed school system.”

  • Reverend Jeremy Chadd, Vicar of St Chad’s Church, Sunderland, in the Diocese of Durham. Regional Tutor for Practical Theology in the North-East Oecumenical Course.

“The Church of England seems to me to delude itself, and to suffer from a dissonance between its words and its actions on church schools. We speak of serving the whole community, but actually serve our own interests. From within that church, I long for a more Christ-like engagement with education, in the service of all, and without a hidden agenda.”

  • Lord Clarke of Nottingham, Conservative Peer and former Secretary of State for Education (1990-1992)

“I am sure that society as well as all children benefit if they are raised in a reasonably diverse and not too closed a community as they are educated.”

  • Dr. Amanullah De Sondy, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Islam at University College Cork, Ireland

“I started my academic career in Islamic Studies as a Scottish born Muslim teacher of Religious Education in Scotland and have taught, advised and written on the subject. I firmly believe that an integrated education has the potential to create the most invigorating experience for a new generation of kids, in which they reflect on their own experiences at school and their life at home (or in their communities) and that will lead to them strengthening their own uniqueness and in turn becoming a beacon of a progressive and flourishing Britain.”

  • Rev Marie Dove Methodist minister in West Yorkshire, former Religious Studies teacher

“I am convinced that the perceived privilege afforded to church goers together with the hypocrisy encouraged by those who make the required number of attendances at the Parish Church until admission is achieved, is damaging to community relationships and casts doubt on the integrity of religious faith.”

Baroness Flather
  • Baroness Flather of Windsor and Maidenhead, cross bench peer and first Asian woman to receive a peerage

A fashionable phrase today is “community cohesion”. I question how is that going to be achieved if our children are not educated together

  • Professor Becky Francis, national expert on education and social justice

“Social mixing is a proven social good, promoting both mutual understanding and educational attainment, yet faith schools have been shown to work against this. Discrimination on the basis of faith is morally indefensible, and is especially detrimental given the social inequality it supports in practice.”

  • Bishop David Gillett, former Bishop of Bolton

“For several years I worked in a reconciliation centre in Northern Ireland and saw there the enormous problems of segregated sectarian education. It fired in me the passion for full and free participation in education for all children and young people without testing or distinction.
I believe that the future health of our society in the whole of the UK depends on an education system in which our schools fully reflect the diversity of the communities in which they are placed.  Our government and society as a whole has a duty to our children and young people to provide schools that are open and welcoming to all without distinction of religion, ethnicity, class, social standing, or sexual orientation.”

  • Lord Glentoran CBE DL, Conservative Peer

“I have had Northern Ireland as my home since the war and have seen the affect on communities living almost side by side of a totally segregated education system (Roman Catholic & Protestant). Never shall the twain meet or ever come to understand each other.”

  • Professor A.C. Grayling, philosopher and author

  • Savitri Hensman, equalities adviser in the care sector. Writer on Christian social ethics and theology.

“Some in minority communities have not always been well served by ‘inclusive’ state schools. The answer however is to increase the quality of education for all in state-funded education, not an approach that ultimately further marginalises such communities.”

  • Sarah Hill, Global relief and development worker. Founder member of Accepting Evangelicals.

“Christians have nothing to fear from equality and justice in schooling, because those practices are at the heart of the Gospel message. My experience in Northern Ireland during the troubles convinced me just how vital integrated education is, if potentially destructive barriers between people and communities are going to be overcome.”

  • Theo Hobson, theologian, author and commentator

“The Church of England’s current educational policy is undermining its old claim to be the church of the entire community. It has to drop all selection on the basis of church attendance. Otherwise it remains a force for division not unity in the local community.”

Lord (Alan) Howarth
  • Baron Howarth of Newport, former Government Minister, including serving as Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department for Education between 1989-92 and Department for Education and Employment 1997/98

“We should seek to make our schools microcosms of a society in which, through shared experience and learning, mutual understanding and respect transcend barriers of class, culture and religion.”

Rt Hon Dr Kim Howells
  • The Rt Hon Dr Kim Howells, former Government Minister, including serving in the Department for Education as Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Lifelong Learning (1997 to 1998); Minister of State for Universities (2004) and Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education (2004 to 2005)

  • Reverend Chris Howson, Anglican priest, Bradford

“I believe that all children should have equal access to the best quality education. Schools that select on the basis of belief and background in effect put up barriers to that.”

Baroness Hughes
  • Baroness Hughes of Stretford. Served in various Government posts, including as Minister of State for Children and Youth Justice within the Department for Education from 2005 to 2009. She served as a spokesperson on education for her Party in the Lords from 2010 to 2014.

  • Sunny Hundal, journalist and blogger

“I oppose discrimination on the basis of religion and think every school should have a mix of students so people can come in contact with “other” students.”

Darren Johnson portrait Feb 2011
  • Darren Johnson, Green Party London Assembly Member 2000-2016

“Segregated schools makes as much sense as segregated buses or segregated hospitals. Rather than creating more schools to serve particular ethnic, religious and social groups and then having to come up with ever more ways of tackling the social and cultural division that inevitably comes from their very separateness, the state should instead ensure that all of its schools are made suitable for children of all backgrounds, regardless of their or their parents religious and non-religious beliefs.”

  • Professor Steve Jones, University College London
  • Professor Sir David King, former Chief Scientific Advisor to HM Government and Chancellor of the University of Liverpool
Lord (Jim) Knight
  • Lord Knight of Weymouth, Minister of State for Schools 2006-2009. Currently speaks for Labour Party in the Lords on the environment, food and rural affairs.

“I strongly support what Accord stands for. I want our children to grow up in a country that celebrates and respects our differences of culture, faith and belief.  This belief in community cohesion is at the heart of Accord’s work to ensure all schools are open to all regardless of any religious conviction, and that the curriculum is similarly balanced.”

  • Rev Richard Kirker, Prominent Christian campaigner for equal rights
  • Hari Kunzru, author

“I believe that one of the main functions of school is to place children outside the limited social and cultural context of home, and allow them to interact with other people whose experiences and values may be very different. As preparation for life, the benefit of this is self-evident. As preparation for functioning in a society like Britain, it is more important than ever before. While religious schools may provide a good level of academic education, their role in narrowing the social experience of their pupils is deeply troubling. Hence I’m supporting this much needed campaign in the name of an open educational system, free of discrimination and prejudice.”

Naomi Long MP
  • Naomi Long – Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly Member for East Belfast and Leader of The Alliance Party, Northern Ireland’s largest non-sectarian party. A long standing supporter of integrated education, where children of all faiths and none are educated together in a shared learning environment.
  • Dr Caroline Lucas MP, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales 2008-12

“I am delighted to support and join the Accord Coalition. Schools should not be a source of social division, but be as diverse a place as the local community from which they draw their pupils and aid the growth of mutual understanding.”

Iain McDonald 2
  • Rev Iain McDonald, a United Reformed Church minister, now retired after eight years serving the Southernhay Church, Exeter

“In addition to the discrimination that is inevitably involved, the current system also encourages hypocrisy. There are those who attend church in order that their children qualify for admission to a particular school and never set foot in the church again after the children have been accepted.”

Justin Meggitt cropped
  • Dr Justin Meggitt, Christian historian, University of Cambridg

“Schools should be places where all ideas and commitments can be freely and genuinely explored and the best way to do this is to make sure that they are inclusive of all, and not the sole preserve of one, particular faith tradition. For a healthy society, of critical, thinking, citizens, comfortable with themselves and others, we need to end discriminatory practices in admissions and employment in our school.”

  • Fiona Millar, journalist and education campaigner
  • Manzoor Moghal, Chairman of the Muslim Forum

“‘Governments should not promote separation in our education system, but instead should promote equality. Equality cannot come about through faith schools because by their very nature they promote privilege and discrimination.”

Fiyaz Mughal 2
  • Fiyaz Mughal, Director of Faith Matters, an interfaith and anti-extremist organisation, as well as advisor to the Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Interfaith and Preventing Radicalism and Extremism

“I completely agree with the aims of Accord and am happy to support its excellent work in the future”

  • Brian Pearce, former Chair of the Buddhist Council of Wales and Buddhist Chaplain to Parc, Swansea & Cardiff prisons, as well as former member of the Interfaith Council for Wales and Welsh Assembly Government’s Faith Communities Forum

“It is my personal view that in a democratic multi-cultural society the state should not be funding segregation, privilege and discrimination. Our children should be learning together and learning to live together. Why divide them on the basis of religion when there is so much to share?”

  • Philip Pullman, author

“Every society needs to provide schools that educate all its future citizens to live together, understanding one another’s differences and building on what we all have in common. To set up schools that separate children according to the beliefs of their parents is to say “We are happy to live in a nation where people don’t speak to one another, a society that subsidises and encourages mutual fear and ignorance, a country where religious intolerance is more important than any other factor in education.” I don’t want to live in a society like that, and I don’t think most people do either. The only way education can be truly open to everyone is if it is secular, and if it’s accepted that religion has no special privileges there.”

  • Sir Richard Roberts, 1993 Nobel Laureate in Medicine

“I strongly oppose the idea of schools that are segregated by faith. In my view schools should be based on secular principles where if religion is to be taught it should be within the context of sociology. Then the origins of religion and comparisons among different religions can be treated in a disinterested fashion without giving credence to the idea that any one religion outweighs all others. Only in this way can children be allowed to study religion in a critical and unbiased manner and with the tools and data necessary for them to make up their own minds about the credibility of religious belief.”

  • Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, writer, broadcaster and President of the Accord Coalition

I want my children to go to a school when they can sit next to a Christian, play football in the break with a Muslim, do homework with a Hindu and walk back with an atheist – interacting with them and them getting to know what a Jewish child is like. Schools should build bridges, not erect barriers.”

  • Reverend Professor Christopher Rowland, former Dean Ireland Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture, University of Oxford

“Churches should be championing social justice and equality for all in education, not privileging their own.”

Barry Sheerman
  • Barry Sheerman MP. Labour MP since 1979; his Party’s Shadow Education Spokesperson from 1983 to 1988 and Chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee from 1999 to 2010. He is currently a Lay Canon at Wakefield Cathedral.

  • Dan Snow, popular historian and TV presenter

“If we want an open and inclusive society, then we need schools to be open and inclusive too. Children are our future. It’s vital that those of us who reject indoctrination, segregation and discrimination work together, in the interests of tolerance and social cohesion. I am pleased to support Accord’s campaign to advance these values.”

  • Polly Toynbee, author and journalist

“Faith schools reduce all families’ choice of schools, cream off the best pupils, obliging the non-religious to cheat and pretend. They do have a special ethos: it’s called keeping out more of the free school meals children. They are a state sponsored way for churches to fill their empty pews with anxious new parents kneeling to Gods they don’t believe in.”

Lord Willis
  • Lord Willis of Knaresborough. Former secondary school head teacher and MP from 1997 to 2010. He served as the Liberal Democrat’s Shadow Education Secretary from 1999 until 2005.

Accord depends on your support

Please give.

Sign up

find us on Facebook

News history