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, many faith schools can discriminate against pupils and teachers who do not share the faith of the school.
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.
Human rights treaties give parents and legal guardians the right to educate their children in accordance with their religion and philosophical convictions, and children should not suffer discrimination because of this. The state is not obliged to actively participate or provide resources to assist parents in such religious education; parents do not have a right to state funding for confessional religious teaching or religious schools that are in line with their own beliefs
The Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises childhood as ending at 18, noting that the child's views should progressively be taken into account as s/he develops capacity.
What are we doing?
- We now have a brand new website dedicated to our No More Faith Schools campaign.
- 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. As a result of our campaigning, the government has abandoned its plans to remove the 50% cap.
- 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.
- We regularly provide support and advice for parents who are experiencing difficulties regarding faith schools, from issues regarding admissions to problems with RE and collective worship. If you're having issues related to religion in schools and would like our support, please contact us.
- In January 2017 we submitted evidence on Kellie Armstrong MLA's proposed Private Members Bill on integrated education. We welcomed proposals to boost integrated education, which brings children, staff and families from different religious and non-religious backgrounds together into the same schools.
- In April 2016 we submitted evidence to a DfE consultation on multi-academy trusts. We drew attention to how religious academy trusts are undermining the community ethos of many non-faith schools.
Specific faith school issues
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.
Challenge a new faith school
If a new faith school is proposed in your local area, or it looks like a religious group is taking over a local non-faith school, you can report it to the No More Faith Schools campaign, and download their free guide to challenging this.
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While you're here
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