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National Secular Society

October 2018 update



There's quite a lot of news in this month's update. The newsletter may have taken a break in September, but it's been a very busy period. On the casework front we always seem to get a lot of concerns over compulsory/coercive worship this time of year. On that theme the Catholic Church in Scotland have been advising 'their' schools how to exclude and marginalise pupils withdrawn from prayers. On a brighter note in Scotland the debate over the future of sectarian schools has been continuing, with a proposal by the Scottish Liberal Democrats to create a single secular model of state-funded education.

On admissions there have been a couple of reports detailing how faith schools push parents into Church services and disadvantage poor and BME families. In brighter news the Irish government has removed the 'baptism barrier' – meaning almost all state primary schools will no longer be able to religiously discriminate in admissions. Let's hope politicians in the UK take notice. Perhaps they could watch Holy Sh!t – a new play highlighting the dilemma faith-based education causes to parents trying to get into their local school.

Also in this newsletter there's an update on an earlier story of a proposed new selective faith school planned for Oldham. The latest information from the trust shows what could charitably be described as a lack of self awareness (what the less charitable may see as simple dishonesty). To claim in bold that you will serve families of 'all' backgrounds, while detailing how your discriminatory admissions and exclusive religious ethos will operate is comical.

If like me you are frustrated by this, if it offends your sense of freedom and fairness, then let's channel that into positive action. Together we can make the positive case for an inclusive education system free from religious control.

We think it's so important for this campaign to share stories of ordinary people affected by faith schools. There's more information below and lots more information on how to get involved on the website.

Thank you to everyone continuing to write to your MP, share the petition, spread the message on social media and let us know about new faith school proposals. If you need resources or a No More Faith Schools speaker for a local group, please let us know.

Best wishes,

Alastair Lichten
NMFS campaign


Latest updates


Scottish Catholic schools to actively marginalise children who don’t pray

The Catholic Church has said it will exclude school children in Scotland from nativity plays and fundraising if they are... Read More »


Lib Dem proposal to end faith schools in Scotland

The National Secular Society has welcomed a proposal by the Scottish Liberal Democrats to end sectarian schools by pursuing... Read More »


Report: Parents attending church services to improve school choice

Research by an educational equality charity shows that 31% of parents (including around 35% of middle class parents) report... Read More »


Ireland lifts discriminatory ‘baptism barrier’ in school admissions

The Irish government has stopped primary schools from discriminating on religious grounds in admissions in almost all cases.


Holy Sh!t – Theatreland endorses Accord’s campaign

By Jonathan Romain, for the Accord coalition

A play highlighting the dilemma faith-based education causes to parents is to be shown at the Kiln Theatre in north London.


‘Church schools’ less likely to admit black or poor pupils

Black and disadvantaged pupils are significantly less likely to gain places at 'church schools' than their white or better-off counterparts, a study has found.


Academic ‘advantages’ of Christian faith schools almost non-existent

The academic advantages of attending Church of England and Catholic schools are almost non-existent, according to a study... Read More »


New selective faith school planned for Oldham

A proposed Church of England faith school in Oldham will select 50% of its pupils based on their parents' religion.

The Cranmer... Read More »

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