Lords raise alarm on 100% religious discrimination in all state-funded faith schools

7 May, 2024

Today in the House of Lords, Baroness Burt, Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, questioned the UK Government’s plans to remove the cap on faith school admissions in England. The move will allow all religious schools to discriminate for 100% of their places. Baroness Burt asked ‘what assessment it has made on the impact of removing the admissions cap on state-funded faith schools on community integration and cohesion.’ The response gave no indication that there had been any such assessment but reiterated the Government’s stance that faith schools are inclusive.

Humanists UK reported last week that the Government has started a seven-week consultation on the proposed 50% cap removal, commenting that the plan was a backwards step that risks increasing division and inequality. Showing that position has cross-party support, former Conservative Education Secretary Lord Baker commented in the discussion today that ’It has never been Tory policy to advocate 100% religious schools’ – calling it ‘an absurd proposal that should not feature anywhere in the manifesto of the Conservative party’. Lord Storey, Liberal Democrat education spokesperson, further questioned ’Does the minister not think it important that in all our schools we should have children of different faiths?’

Peers raised concerns that the Government’s proposal could lead to schools which admitted 100% of children from a single faith, at a time when social and community cohesion had never been more important.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson said:

‘It is unbelievable that the Government is considering such a retrograde step, where families risk being shut out from their local state schools simply because they are of the wrong religion or belief.

‘There is clear evidence that selective faith schools are less inclusive. At a time when there is such a great need for policies that promote integration, increasing the discrimination of faith schools in their admissions criteria will lead to greater religious segregation and hinder efforts towards building cohesive communities.’


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 07534 248 596.

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