Faith Schools: Admissions

Department for Education written question – answered on 24th June 2022.

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Photo of Wera Hobhouse Wera Hobhouse Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Justice), Liberal Democrat Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Women and Equalities)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he had made an assessment of the potential impact of religious selection on socioeconomic inclusion in schools.

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, Minister of State (Education)

Church and faith schools represent a third of all state-funded schools. The department values the contribution that they make to a diverse school system.

Faith schools have played a longstanding and important role in our education system. Faith schools are popular with parents, with many being high-performing and are more likely to be rated good or outstanding by Ofsted than non-faith schools. New academies and free schools that have a faith designation must allow for a minimum of 50% of places to be allocated to children without reference to faith where the school is oversubscribed.

In 2018, the department published ‘Secondary school choice and selection: insights from new national preferences data’. The report found evidence that the smaller proportion of disadvantaged and minority ethnic pupils attending church schools compared to other schools was a result of a range of factors, including admissions oversubscription criteria, as well as parental preference.

The department expects all schools, including faith schools, to be open and inclusive. All schools, including faith schools, must ensure that their admission arrangements are fair and objective, and that the arrangements will not disadvantage unfairly a child from a particular social or racial group.

Many faith schools are oversubscribed, showing that parents value and want these schools. The department also understands that the ability to prioritise children of faith when oversubscribed is important to faith schools and we do not intend to change that.

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