1. Skip to content

National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Religion and education

The current law in England and Wales requiring state schools to hold a daily act of broadly Christian worship is not strongly supported, with almost as many Christians opposed to it (36%) as in favour (39%). Source: ComRes 2011

State-funded faith schools

  • 58% of the adult population oppose faith schools and only 30% say they have "no objection" to faith schools being funded by the state. Source: Opinium (2014)
  • Only a third of the adult population approve of state funding for faith schools. Nearly half actively disapprove, and the rest say they 'don't know'. Source: YouGov (2013)
  • When asked if the government should provide funding for faith schools, 18-24 year olds are in favour by 43% to 36%, compared with those aged 40-59 who are opposed by 47% to 28%. Source: YouGov (2013)
  • When asked whether the Government should fund "faith schools", 32% said they should while 45% said they shouldn't. When broken down by religion, the only kind of "faith school" that has a margin of support is Church of England (4%). Source: YouGov (2013)
  • 7% of people are against funding Catholic schools, 33% against Jewish and 40% against Islamic and Hindu school. 32% of 18-24 year olds support funding for Islamic schools compared with 16% of 40-59 year olds. Source: YouGov (2013)
  • While Christians are more likely to support than oppose state-funded faith schools, this support is reduced when non-Christian faiths schools are included. 45% support state-funded faith schools for any religion, whether Christian or non-Christian, while 53% are in favour of state-funded schools for any Christian denomination. Source: Ipsos MORI (2012)

Faith schools

  • A majority of people don't object to faith schools discriminating on religious grounds in their admissions. (49% thought it was acceptable, with 38% saying it wasn't and 13% "don't know".) Source: YouGov (2013)
  • There isn't majority support for reforming proposals to make faith schools more mixed by admitting a quota from a different faith or none. 23% think "faith schools should have to adopt this policy", while 30% think it is up to the school to decide whether they adopt this policy; 11% think it is better for faith schools to admit only people of the same faith and 26% say there should be no faith schools at all. Source: YouGov (2013)
  • A quarter of people who might have a school-age child say they would send him or her to a faith school. Source: YouGov
  • People say that academic standards matter most in choosing a school. 70% said they would choose a school on the basis of its academic standard; 23% said they would choose on basis of ethical standards; 5% said they would choose on the basis of giving a "grounding in faith tradition"; and only 3% because for "transmission of belief about God". Source: YouGov

Religious education and science

  • 23% of people think religious education in state-funded schools should teach pupils to believe in a religion; 15% think it should teach pupils to believe in Christianity and 8% to believe whatever faith the school subscribes to. Source: Ipsos MORI (2012)
  • 57% think state-funded schools should teach knowledge about the world's main faiths even-handedly, without any bias towards any particular religion, and without trying to inculcate belief. Source: Ipsos MORI (2012)
  • More Christians oppose (38%) than support (31%) the teaching of 6-day creationism in state-funded school science lessons. Source: Ipsos MORI (2012)