New report: faith schools responsible for increasing social disadvantage

26 March, 2019

A major new report has found faith schools are widening the gap for economically disadvantaged pupils and are among the most socially selective schools in England and Wales.

Humanists UK today welcomed the Selective Comprehensives Great Britain report by the social mobility charity, Sutton Trust, which compares the top performing secondary schools across England, Wales, and Scotland, and looks at how admissions could be improved to make access fairer.

The report criticised faith schools’ admission policies and the way in which they recruit pupils. It found that across all three nations, faith schools under-represent the rates of disadvantage in their catchment areas.

It also warned against the opening of more 100% religiously selective schools in England, as is currently proposed, as it would increase disadvantage for pupils from economically deprived backgrounds. It added: ‘Faith schools are among the most socially selective of schools both in England and Wales.

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Dr Ruth Wareham said:

‘This report is further evidence of the ways in which faith schools enhance social and economic disadvantage for pupils and how they unfairly and inaccurately link their academic performance to their faith ethos.

‘More needs to be done to tackle social and economic disadvantage in our school system and we call on the UK Department for Education to consider these latest findings and stop the introduction of more 100% religiously selective schools.’


For more information contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at or phone 020 7324 3078.

For more information on our faith schools campaigns, visit

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.