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National Secular Society

July 2019 update



There's been mixed success this month, with the latest announcements on VA (voluntary aided faith schools) and free schools (new academies).

Of 14 VA proposals initially approved by the DfE, only one – a proposal from the Catholic Diocese of East Anglia in Peterborough – is currently moving forward, with two other bids likely to be resurrected if the DfE identifies suitable sites.

If we hadn't forced the government into a U-turn on plans to lift the faith based admissions cap for free schools, then dozens of 100% selective faith academies would have been proposed. There would have been far fewer options for local opposition and existing faith based free schools could even have increased their levels of discriminatory admissions.

The Catholic Diocese of East Anglia alone hoped to open eight fully religiously selective academies. It's still hugely disappointing to see a discriminatory Catholic VA school proceeding, especially after we revealed it is in direct competition with a proposed community ethos academy. There's still a chance that Peterborough City Council will block the proposal. If you live in the city, please contact your local councillor ASAP.

We're also working on resisting new faith based academies. In this regard only four of 33 proposed faith schools (three Christian and one Islamic) have been approved. But many proposals for faith schools are likely to be resurrected along with new proposals in wave 14 of the free school programme, which closes on 30 September.

Best wishes,

Alastair Lichten
Campaign coordinator - NMFS


Take Action


Challenging new faith schools isn't the be all and end all of our work. Of course we want to go further, challenging abuses in existing faith schools and setting out a bold but achievable path to a fully inclusive, secular education system.

But in the short term our aim needs to be simple:

We want every faith school proposal to face robust opposition at every level and make every effort to support secular inclusive alternatives.

If we do this we can build the connections, experience and momentum that will really push for an end to religious control in our education system. We can't do this alone from an office in London. We need you, our supporters across the country to get mobilised. We need you to:

Get in contact with your MPs, local councillors, community leaders, political parties, union representatives, parents groups etc. Ask what they are doing to support inclusive community ethos schools.

Get sharing: Statistics and theoretical arguments may win some people over, but sharing stories help many more empathise with those affected by faith schools and perhaps rethink their support. You can also help by sharing others' stories on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, along with our other key content – the national petition, our explainer video, news and opinion.

Get informed with our guides to new school proposals and VA schools, and our powerful faith school myth buster.

Get in touch with us if you're affected by faith schools or are worried about a proposal in your area. We follow new faith school proposals and developments extremely closely, but we can't catch everything. If you can report a new faith school proposal as early as possible, we can do more to help.

Get creative: With photos, videos, interpretive dance etc., show us how you're supporting the campaign and let us know why you're saying "No More Faith Schools!" We can send you posters to help make an impact or you can print your own.

Get talking: Most people don't support faith schools, but many feel we're stuck with them, have absorbed some of the other pro-faith school myths, or haven't though too much about it. A simple honest chat with your friends and family could have a huge impact.

Get together: If you're a member of a club or society, why not hold an event discussing faith schools and the need for secular inclusive education system? We can provide advice and resources, and potentially a speaker. This is a campaign that can bring people together, across the political and religious spectrum.

The faith school lobby may be powerful, its access to policy makers may be expansive and its pockets may be deep. But faith schools aren't popular. The perception that faith schools are inevitable is built on sand. Together we can build a stronger, inclusive alternative.


Latest news & opinion


New discriminatory Catholic faith school to open in Peterborough

The government has unveiled plans to fund a new religiously selective faith school in Peterborough, despite opposition.

Education... Read More »


Three failing Church of England schools warned by government

Three state-funded Church of England schools have been warned by the government following inspections.

Sexey's School, a Church... Read More »

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