A Government survey of the admissions policies of a range of schools is reported in the press today. It finds that in the three local authority areas covered, 76 of 136 voluntary-aided schools (i.e. faith schools) broke the new Schools Admissions Code (NB: 106 were written to which makes a non-compliance rate of 72%.)
This is clearly unacceptable and the Government has now tightened enforcement of the Schools Admissions Code, requiring Local Education Authorities to report on compliance with the Code to the Schools Adjudicator. Faith should not be used as proxy to select by ability or class. Any school that breaks that should be severely sanctioned.
A couple of days ago I wrote how it struck me that many of the criticisms levelled at faith schools could equally apply to non-faith schools. If you look at the DCSF data for non-compliance with the Schools Admissions Code, you find something very interesting. 17 of 20 foundation schools (which are not faith based schools) are non-compliant with the Code. That is a non-compliance rate of 85% compared with 72% for faith schools. Both figures are appalling and should be zero.
What is the similarity between foundation and voluntary-aided (faith) schools? They both run their own admissions. They have had much greater freedom in the past to rig admissions. Those days are gone and they need to comply with new fair admissions.
Selection by parental wealth or occupation in our state schools exacerbates class division and narrows choice and opportunity. It is outlawed by a statutory Code. Where there is non-compliance, the perpetrators should named, shamed, and sanctioned. But let's not pretend this is unique to faith schools or we will be falling into a different type of divisive attitude- one that holds faith schools to a higher standard than others and that will inevitably lead to resentment.