Faith schools: the evidence

Over a third of schools in Britain are faith schools, yet their place within public education systems remains deeply contested.

Proponents of faith schools claim that they improve parental choice, achieve superior educational outcomes, and are better at promoting moral values. The evidence from the research strongly contests these claims.

Such research is often piecemeal and difficult to access, making it hard to gain a comprehensive view of the debate. This research bank is intended as a valuable resource for policymakers, politicians, academics and anyone else interested in the ongoing debate around faith schools in Britain.

Each entry provides an at-a-glance overview of the key evidence and central arguments made in a different study. The research bank is arranged chronologically within a number of key sections: social cohesion; performance; school choice; values; and public opinion.

Together, the evidence provides a compelling and comprehensive case against state-funded faith schools.

About

The National Secular Society campaigns for an inclusive education system free from any form of religious privilege, discrimination or control. We oppose publicly funded faith schools and advocate for a community-ethos-driven approach. Researching and building a strong evidence base is vital for our work. The faith school databank arose from a desire to systematically catalogue that evidence and make it accessible.

The initial research bank was compiled by Steven Kettell and Rebecca Vernon at the University of Warwick, while additional material has been collated by the National Secular Society. When first launched, the bank contained analysis of almost 200 articles from across academia and other research sources.

We strongly encourage researchers to submit additions to the database to serve as a living document over time. To recommend a source, please contact education@secularism.org.uk.

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Scope

The analysis in this research bank focuses primarily on England and Wales, due to the very different educational contexts in Scotland and Northern Ireland, although some studies on Scotland and Northern Ireland are included where they raise themes and issues with wider relevance to the debate around faith schools. Sources are generally from 2010 onwards.

Rebecca Vernon

Rebecca Vernon holds a first class degree in History and Politics from the University of Warwick and a MA with Distinction in Law from BPP University, London. She is currently studying the Legal Practice Course in preparation for work as a solicitor in central London.

Steven Kettell

Steven Kettell is an associate professor in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick. He holds a BSc in Politics from the University of Plymouth, an MA in Comparative Politics from the University of York and a Ph.D. in Politics and International Studies from the University of Warwick. He is a co-executive editor of British Politics and co-author of The Politics of New Atheism (Routledge). His research interests are centred on the politics of secularism, non-religion and the role of religion in the public sphere.