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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

School Admissions

We believe all publicly funded schools should to be open to all children, without regard to religion.

When voluntary aided faith schools and religious academies are oversubscribed, they are permitted to use religious criteria to give priority in admissions to children, or children of parents, who practice a particular religion. In many cases schools will require evidence of baptism or religious practice from a minister of religion.

We advocate an end to the exemption from equality law that permits state funded 'faith schools' to religiously select children in this way.

Such admissions arrangements disadvantage local children whose parents are non-religious or of a different religion to the school's religious designation. Many parents find that because of their lack of religious belief, they are unable to send their children to their local state school, which is often the most appropriate school for their needs.

There is also strong evidence to suggest that the discriminatory admissions arrangements operated by some schools, in addition to being unfair, encourage social segregation and impede community cohesion.

A secular approach to school admissions would create a more inclusive education system that values and caters for all pupils equally.

Find out more

Read our briefing paper on faith school admissions

What you can do

Join us!
We oppose faith schools in principle, and think all state schools should serve children from all religious and philosophical backgrounds equally. The secularisation of our education system is one of our primary objectives. If you support this aim please join us. We receive no funding from government or outside bodies – our campaigning is wholly supported by our members. Join today!

Get in touch!
If you're concerned about a specific situation in your area we may be able to help so please do get in touch. Case studies also inform our work and help us to demonstrate to Government the problems caused by religious selection in schools.

Raise awareness!
Your elected representatives rely on your vote, so it's important to let them know what you think. Please raise your concerns about discriminatory school admissions with your Local MP/MSP/AM and Councillors and ask them to support and end religious selection in state funded schools.