A community secondary school in North Yorkshire currently hoping to become an Academy, Malton School, has become the first school in England to propose to then convert from being an inclusive Academy to a ‘faith’ Academy. The school has just finished simultaneous consultations on converting to an Academy and on converting to a Church of England school.
If the school were to propose to convert from a community school to a voluntary controlled or voluntary aided ‘faith’ school, then it would require approval of the local authority to do so, and the British Humanist Association (BHA) understands that the school believes this approval would not be granted. However, if the school were to first convert to an Academy, then it would take itself out of local authority control, and would instead just require the approval of the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, to convert to a ‘faith’ school. There is reason to believe this is attainable.
BHA Faith Schools Campaigns Officer Richy Thompson commented, ‘We have been concerned about how easy it is for Academies to convert to having a religious character since the passage of the Academies Act last year, and now we have a school confirming our fears by looking to take advantage of this.
‘A further area of concern is that Malton School’s consultation has not outlined for parents the school’s intended policies on governance, employment, admissions, collective worship, Religious Education and Sex and Relationships Education – essentially, everything bar the name that will change as a result of the conversion. We also understand that parents at local primary schools have not all been consulted about the change. These issues are likely a consequence of the fact that the Department for Education has not even outlined what information needs to be presented to whom when such a change is proposed.
‘We believe ‘faith’ schools are discriminatory and divisive, and hope that Malton School decides to remain a school that looks to serve the whole community equally, without regard to religion or belief.’
For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7462 4993.
Read the related Times Education Supplement article, Secondary to return to CofE when it converts to academy.
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.