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National Secular Society

Sorry for sending you two emails today, but this is important news. This morning the Government announced the results of their misnamed 'Schools that work for everyone' consultation, and the news is decidedly mixed.

On the plus side: plans to scrap the 50% cap on faith based admissions to new academies have been abandoned.

On the negative side: the Government have announced a new way to open new 100% religiously selective VA (voluntary aided) faith schools, and have even abandoned some of the tokenistic "inclusion safeguards" that would replace the 50% cap.

Over the past 18 months the National Secular Society has worked incredibly hard on this campaign. Members and supporters can be proud of all their work in helping force a government U-turn and retaining the 50% cap.

1- We sounded the early warning when the Catholic Education Service first started lobbying against the cap.

2- As soon as the proposals were announced we launched our campaign.

3- We called for an inquiry after confirming there would be no Parliamentary oversight of the changes

4- We responded to the consultation and helped our supporters do the same, as well as lobbying MPs

5- We've kept the pressure up, reporting on the growing coalition of voices opposed to these regressive proposals and lobbying the Education Secretary

What does this mean?

While keeping the 50% cap is positive news, the decision on new VA faith schools flies in the face of the Government's stated wish for an inclusive and cohesive society. A further expansion of discriminatory faith schools is the antithesis of inclusive, secular education. While these proposals may create school places, they will do so by sacrificing equality and social cohesion.

We're still digesting the announcement and it will be some months before the Government decides the process for opening the new VA schools – we'll be examining this closely.

It's time to redouble our efforts. Not only do we need to end discriminatory admissions policies, we need to dismantle the whole faith schools system. There is no reasonable justification for continuing to segregate pupils on the basis of their parents' beliefs. Publicly funded schools should no longer be used to inculcate children into a religion.

If these schools become academies in the future (a convoluted was around the 50% cap) they would likely retain their ability to practice 100% religious discrimination in admissions and teaching staff, and ability to teach confessional RE.

It's important to remember that religious discrimination is a high profile reason for opposition to faith schools, but it isn't the only one. #NoMoreFaithSchools as a national campaign seeks to do more than just reduce the harm of faith schools, we're working for their abolition and an inclusive education system for all. To coin a phrase, we actually want schools that work for everyone.

What you can do:

If you haven't already supported our national #NoMoreFaithSchools campaign, please consider doing so today. We already have a range of ways you can take action, and we'll be expanding these resources. Taking local action will be particularly important so please speak to your local representatives: ask them what they're doing to support inclusive education in your area, and to oppose new VA schools.

  
 

Gov’t drops proposal to scrap 50% admissions cap – but plans discriminatory faith school expansion

The government has abandoned plans to lift the cap on faith-based admissions to new free schools in England – but will pave the way for a new wave of religiously selective faith schools.

  

It's time to redouble our efforts. Not only do we need to end discriminatory admissions policies, we need to dismantle the whole faith schools system.

  
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