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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

Court ruling: local authorities are under no obligation to subsidise transport to faith schools

Court ruling: local authorities are under no obligation to subsidise transport to faith schools

Fri, 22 May 2015 15:22

A judge has ruled that the state is not obliged to subsidise transportation to and from faith schools, despite ruling in favour of a Catholic school in a case over subsidised school transport.

LibDem leadership contender calls for secular state

LibDem leadership contender calls for secular state

Wed, 20 May 2015 17:00

Tim Farron, one of two candidates for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats, has called for the Church of England to be disestablished and has also expressed his opposition to faith schools.

NSS urges Government to resist regressive demands to lift admissions cap on faith schools

NSS urges Government to resist regressive demands to lift admissions cap on faith schools

Wed, 20 May 2015 12:57

The NSS has urged the Government to resist regressive demands to allow more discrimination in faith schools after it emerged the Catholic Education Service is lobbying "hard" to remove the cap on faith-based admissions to academies – and is hopeful that the Government will revisit the issue.

Faith school closes so staff can go on religious pilgrimage

Faith school closes so staff can go on religious pilgrimage

Thu, 07 May 2015 14:38

A Catholic primary school in Birmingham closed for a day during term-time so that its staff could attend a pilgrimage to the Vatican.

NSS backs parents allocated Sikh school against their wishes

NSS backs parents allocated Sikh school against their wishes

Fri, 24 Apr 2015 09:05

The National Secular Society is supporting parents whose children have been allocated a Sikh ethos free school against their wishes.