We want an open and inclusive education system, free of religious discrimination. A secular approach would see faith-based education phased out and ensure that publicly funded schools are equally welcoming to all children, regardless of their backgrounds. We oppose publicly funded faith schools and campaign for an end to religious discrimination in school admissions.
We have now launched a dedicated website campaigning for inclusive education: NoMoreFaithSchools.org.
What’s the problem?
Schools with a religious character or 'faith schools' as they are commonly known, account for around a third of our publicly funded schools in England and Wales. Scottish and Northern Irish schools are still divided along sectarian lines.
We oppose faith schools in principle. Parents are entitled to raise their children within a faith tradition, but they are not entitled to enlist the help of the state to do so. The state should not fund proselytisation or allow the schools it funds to inculcate children into a particular religion.
There are other reasons why organising children's education around religious identities is a bad idea. Separating children along such fundamental lines of difference is divisive and leads to religious, ethnic and socio-economic segregation.
To make matters worse, the Government is considering scrapping the rule that means oversubscribed faith free-schools can only select 50% of their pupils on the basis of faith, leaving the remaining 50% of places open to all pupils, irrespective of religious background. This will herald a new wave of fully religiously-selective schools.
Despite a consistent and dramatic decline in church attendance, and a growing majority of non-religious citizens, successive governments have paved the way for ever greater religious involvement in education, often to the detriment of inclusive community schools. Data from the House of Commons library shows that the proportion of state faith schools increased in England between 2000 and 2017 - from 35% to 37% at primary level and 16% to 19% at secondary level.
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. Indeed our research has shown that 18,000 families were assigned faith schools against their wishes in England in 2017 alone.
What are we doing?
We have been at the forefront of challenging Government plans to open a new wave of fully religiously selective faith schools. We've lobbied ministers and met with the Department to express our objections to the removal of the 50% faith-based admissions cap. We also submitted evidence to the DfE's 'Schools that work for everyone' consultation. We play a prominent role in the ongoing national debate over the role of religion in schools and regularly lobby MPs and decision makers to promote our vision for a secular and inclusive education system.
What you can do:
Write to your MP
Please consider lobbying your MP on faith schools, call on them to support a secular inclusive education system for all.
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