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Education – No more griping

March 2016

Nicky Morgan, secretary of state for education, has announced that the government plans to limit complaints over faith schools’ admission policies.

The intention is to prevent complaints from outside the local community that can burden school admissions systems. They will also prevent secular campaign groups from bringing ‘vexatious complaints’ against faith schools.

The Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education continues to gripe about the UK’s faith-based free schools, the majority of which do an excellent job.

Led by Accord, 16 civil society groups issued an open letter to Ms Morgan, urging that the Department for Education keeps in place its rule, that faith-based free schools do not select more than half of their pupils on religious grounds.

According to government proposals, only local parents or the local authority will be allowed to lodge a complaint against a school. Although secular campaign groups such as Accord have claimed time and again that faith schools use their admission policy unfairly, the government reported last year that 95 per cent of parents received an offer at one of their top three preferred schools.

Andrea Williams of Christian Concern said that, while unjust discrimination is never warranted, faith schools should be able to make admissions decisions based on the faith of the pupils and their families.

She said, ‘Certainly the benefit of Christian schools is that they foster spiritual, as well as physical and mental development, built upon the firm foundation of God’s Word. If we remove schools’ ability to foster this distinctive ethos, they will lose the added benefit to children as well’.

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