Faith Schools: Write to your MP

The NSS urges you to write to your MP about concerns over the government's promotion of "faith" schools.

Here is what we would suggest that you write (please give your full address and postcode when writing to your MP.)

I would like to add my voice to that of the members of the NASUWT and National Union of Teachers who are calling for an end to state funding of ‘faith’ schools. At their recent conference, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers voted overwhelmingly against further public funding of ‘faith’ schools. All were reported in the Guardian. Concerns were also recently expressed at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers’ recent conference about public funding of ‘faith’ schools.

It is not a legitimate role of the State to subsidise religious proselytising. There are already 7,000 ‘faith’ schools in the country and the number is set to grow substantially. Both pupils and teachers of the ‘wrong’ faith or none are finding it increasingly difficult to secure places or jobs at their local schools where these happen to be ‘faith schools’. They are therefore disadvantaged relative to those who are – or claim to be – practising Christians, who have access not only to religious schools but to the remaining community schools, too.

Some ‘faith’ schools have admission criteria that permit children whose parents are of other denominations and religions, and those who have no religion at all, to be admitted thus allowing the schools, and the Government to claim that they are ‘inclusive’. But this generally masks the denial of equal non-discriminatory access when the school is oversubscribed, which they often are.

There should be a moratorium on any new ‘faith’ schools, of any religion. While I understand the frustration of those of minority faiths seeing the Governments misplaced enthusiasm for opening even more Christian schools, I also oppose minority faith schools. Where the pupils from such schools would also be predominantly from a minority ethnic group these schools carry with them a serious additional problem for both the minority and majority communities.

With its proposal to significantly expand minority ‘faith’ schools, the Government is sleepwalking into educational apartheid. In the longer term this will be a catastrophe for community relations and may turn out to be the worst error in domestic policy of Mr Blair’s administration.

The state funding of existing ‘faith’ schools should be made contingent on – at the very least – non-discriminatory admissions and employment policies as well as control of the Board of Governors being in the hands of local authorities.

I urge you to vote in favour of any measures that would move in the direction I have set out and would be grateful for you to reply stating your views on the above matters.

13 April 2006