“Faith Schools”: Official Report Confirms That Their Success Is Down To Selection Not Religion

What the NSS has suspected all along about “faith schools” – that they achieve their results by selection not because of their religious “ethos” – has now been confirmed in an official government report. Commissioned by the Department of Education and Skills from the London School of Economics, the report says that religious affiliation of schools has little impact on their results. Church of England and Roman Catholic schools have fewer children from poor backgrounds and are more likely to be targeted by pushy parents, according to a report commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills.

The report focuses on the social intake and exam results of England’s 16,000 primary schools. “There is clear positive selection of pupils into faith schools on the basis of observable characteristics that are favourable to education – even when we compare pupils that originate in the same block of residential housing,” it says. “Any performance impact from ‘faith’ schools in England seems to be closely linked to autonomous governance and admissions arrangements, and not to religious character.”

The report says that pupils in religious schools are more likely to be white, and to have English as their first language and less likely to come from a family on a low income.

The report – which will be a major embarrassment for the Government and its “faith school” obsession – found that voluntary aided schools (which are run by the church with public money) had some opportunity to covertly pick pupils based on what they could observe about pupils and their family background.

“Hence, any faith school advantage could be equally well ascribed to differences in admissions procedure as to any impact of religious affiliation or ethos. Similarly, it may be families of the most motivated and able pupils that pick this type of school.”

The Church of England unsurprisingly thought the findings “seriously flawed” but Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, said: “David Blunkett once said that he would like to bottle the ‘ethos’ of faith schools and apply it to every school in the country. It turns out that what was in the bottle was selection, not religion. This report confirms everything we have been saying about the injustice and privileges of religious schools. Our prediction is that the Government will now try to bury this report, which gives lie to everything they have claimed about ‘faith schools.”

See the report here.
See also: Christians demand to keep their school indoctrination privileges