Schools: Admissions

Department for Education written question – answered on 20th February 2019.

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Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what evidence, if any, they have that programmes linking schools with each other with homogeneous pupil populations taken from one religious background are as effective at promoting social cohesion and inter-communal trust as fully inclusive schools open to children from a variety of backgrounds.

Photo of Lord Agnew of Oulton Lord Agnew of Oulton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Education has a vital role in promoting integration. That is why the Department for Education is taking forward a number of measures across its portfolio to support the sector to promote integration. We want educational settings that prepare all children, young people and adults to participate fully in life in modern Britain, and equip children and young people with the skills, knowledge and values to become active citizens. All schools and colleges are required to teach a broad and balanced curriculum which promotes the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils, and to promote our shared values of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.

School linking programmes are an important element of our integration agenda. Providing opportunities for young people to have meaningful interactions with those from different backgrounds helps build understanding of different communities and cultures, fosters more positive attitudes, promotes social cohesion and inter-communal trust. Social mixing and school linking are grounded in contact theory, with studies consistently finding that contact between groups of young people from different backgrounds creates more positive attitudes and can increase cohesion. This is particularly evidenced in recent findings by the University of Bristol and London School of Economics[1].

The Department for Education co-funds, with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, The Linking Network which links all kinds of schools to help children explore questions of identity, diversity, equality and community cohesion. The Linking Network uses a data analysis tool to ensure that it is only linking together pupil populations from different backgrounds, including young people of different faiths, ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds and from different areas.

Diversity of intake is also important, and that is why we are taking forward our commitment, as set out in the Integrated Communities Action Plan, to develop model admissions arrangements. We have also recently published the Respectful Schools Communities toolkit[2] to help schools be inclusive environments; this self-review and signposting tool supports schools to develop a whole-school approach that promotes respect and discipline.

[1] Burgess, S., and Platt, L. (2018) Inter-ethnic relations of teenagers in England’s schools: the role of school and neighbourhood ethnic composition, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM) Discussion Paper Series, CPD 07/18

[2] https://educateagainsthate.com/school-leaders/?filter=guidance-and-training-school-leaders.

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