Wherever they attend school – in the independent or state sectors pupils have the right to an education which prepares them to flourish as individuals and which opens rather than closes opportunities.
The National Secular Society works towards a secular education system – where all state schools are organised around an inclusive ethos and are free from religious discrimination, privilege or control. Outside of the state system, independent schools have great autonomy, but this autonomy must be balanced against children's independent rights.
See "Why focus on state-funded faith schools?" – an opinion piece from the No More Faith School campaign.
What’s the problem?
There is a growing crisis in the independent faith school sector, where ideological objectives have in some cases taken priority over children's education and wellbeing. While many demonstrably comply with the independent school standards, many independent faith schools restrict children's knowledge and opportunities, seeking to mould them into narrow religious roles.
What are we doing?
This area of our work covers registered independent faith schools. Click here for our work on unregistered schools.
The National Secular Society works to improve independent school standards so that no child's education or development opportunities are restricted by religion, and to report on abuses within the sector.
- We regularly cover inspection reports which demonstrate the crisis in independent schools.
- We campaign to prevent extreme groups registering schools where there is a clear concern over pupils' rights/welfare e.g.
- We campaign for improved independent school standards.
- In April 2020 we submitted evidence to a DfE consultation on regulating independent educational institutions. We expressed support for plans to regulate settings providing full-time education to children and define what constitutes a school in England.
- In May 2018 we submitted evidence to a DfE consultation on operating the independent school regulatory system. We recommended a range of substantive improvements based on evidence of particular problems exposed by inspections and whistblowers in independent faith schools.
- In May 2014 we submitted evidence to an Ofsted consultation on independent inspectorates: regulations and advice.
What you can do:
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This is not an exhaustive list mainly focuses on examples or stories that we don't report elsewhere. For our regular reporting on these issues, please visit our relevant news and opinion pages. A selection of further examples are below.