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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Religion and Schools

Education is where a lack of secularism impinges most on the lives of British citizens.

Schools with a religious character, or 'faith schools' as they are commonly known, account for around a third of our publicly funded schools. This seriously limits choice for parents who do not want a religious education for their children, or do not share the faith of the local school.

Despite a consistent and dramatic decline in church attendance, and a growing proportion of non-religious citizens, successive governments have paved the way for ever greater religious involvement in education, often to the detriment of community schools.

We oppose publicly funded faith schools and campaign for an end to religious discrimination in school admissions.

We also campaign for an end to compulsory worship in schools and for reform of Religious Education.

A secular approach to education would see 'faith schools' phased out and ensure that publicly funded schools are equally welcoming to all children, regardless of their religious and philosophical backgrounds.

Visit our education statistics page for facts and figures on religion and education.

Related News

Thousands of children “hidden away” in illegal faith schools at risk of indoctrination and extremism

Thousands of children “hidden away” in illegal faith schools at risk of indoctrination and extremism

Wed, 18 May 2016 13:43

Ofsted has found over 50 suspected illegal faith schools since January, prompting renewed fears about thousands of children being taught in unregistered schools with no oversight.

Peers criticise “divisive influence” of faith schools

Peers criticise “divisive influence” of faith schools

Thu, 12 May 2016 13:47

A House of Lords debate on school admissions has seen peers criticise segregation and division fed by faith schools and challenging Government plans to prevent civil society organisations from objecting to Admissions Code violations.

Faith school pupil not allowed on council-run ‘Christian only’ bus

Faith school pupil not allowed on council-run ‘Christian only’ bus

Tue, 10 May 2016 12:32

The National Secular Society has urged a local authority to review its school transport policy after a pupil was told he couldn't use the council-run school bus because it is provided only for church-going pupils.

NSS: Efforts to better integrate religious minorities must include a reappraisal of faith schools

NSS: Efforts to better integrate religious minorities must include a reappraisal of faith schools

Tue, 10 May 2016 06:57

The National Secular Society has welcomed comments from Trevor Phillips calling for the "active integration" of religious minorities but warned that this cannot be done without tackling faith schools.

EHRC to investigate gender segregation at Islamic faith school

EHRC to investigate gender segregation at Islamic faith school

Fri, 06 May 2016 13:32

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has been asked by the Department for Education to investigate an independent Islamic school that segregated its staff by gender.