Faith school sector shuns the deprived

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New research from the Guardian has shown the extent to which England’s faith schools are skewed towards serving the middle classes, and shun many of the most deprived in society.

The new statistical analysis by the Guardian has shown that most faith schools admit a smaller proportion of children in receipt of free school meals than the average for schools in their local authority area.

The Guardian’s data shows that 76% of Catholic primaries and 65% of Catholic secondaries have a smaller proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals than is representative of their postcode, while for  Church of England primaries this figure is 63.5% and 40% for Church of England secondaries.

In contrast, the research found that schools without a religious character were far more likely to mirror the proportion of poor pupils in their local area – just 47% of non-faith primaries and 29% of non-faith secondaries took a smaller proportion of free school meals than is representative of their postcode.

Worryingly the research indicates that Church of England primary schools are also increasingly serving the better-heeled in their communities. In 2010, 72% of Church’s primaries had a lower proportion of the poorest pupils than other schools in their local authority area, whereas in 2011 the figure had risen to 74%. Meanwhile, some 63.5% of the Church’s primaries had a smaller proportion of the poorest pupils than their postcode in 2011, compared to 60% the year before.

Dr Jonathan Romain said: "Faith schools should serve the whole community, but if they are giving preference to children from the most aspirational families at the expense of others, they are both promoting social inequality and undermining their own mission. We urge the Government to close the faith loophole that allows discriminatory practices in pupil admissions".

School Leadership Today
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