THE next government should legislate to force state-funded faith
schools to employ teachers of any religion or none, and admit at
least half their pupils regardless of religious background, a
statement sent to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for
Education said this week.
Described as a "manifesto" for faith schools, the statement was
drawn up by the Accord Coalition, a campaigning organisation that
includes individuals and pressure groups from most Churches, from
the Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh faiths, and from non-religious
A 50-per-cent limit on faith-based admissions would "ease the
path towards the abolition of all religious discrimination in
schools", it says.
Introducing the statement, which repeats Accord's long-held
aims, the organiser, Rabbi Jonathan Romain, said that, while most
religious leaders claimed that their schools were inclusive and
tolerant, "in reality they perpetuate discrimination. . . Those
signing the manifesto believe that discriminations are a religious
affront, and are incompatible with religious teachings about
equality, openness, and fairness".
A 50-per-cent limit on faith-based admissions would have little
effect on Church of England schools, more than half of which are
voluntary controlled, and have fully open admissions policies. The
same is true of most C of E aided schools, which tend to be
long-established schools serving local communities, although most
Roman Catholic schools, and most minority-faith schools, strictly
limit admissions from outside their own faith background.
All C of E schools, however, can seek to recruit Christians as
school-leaders, and voluntary aided schools can seek them as other
Responding to the Accord statement this week, the Church of
England's chief education officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, said
that the organisation was tackling the wrong issue. "In this
country, there is a major crisis over school places which is
squeezing low-income families out of the best schools, and, most
importantly, there is a crisis of social justice.
"We are working hard to expand our provision and ensure that
young people from all backgrounds have access to the best possible