Faith school allocations to be revised

Faith schools in Britain will be required to reserve at least one quarter of their places to children not from the same religious background, according to a leaked government letter.

The Sunday Times says the memo from education secretary Alan Johnson, dated October 9th, outlines new proposals that the government hopes to include in its education and inspections bill currently passing through parliament.

Earlier this month, the Church of England said it would offer 25 per cent of its schools’ places to non-believers.

Mr Johnson now wants to force Catholic, Jewish and Muslim schools to do the same, and he believes that the Conservative party will give their backing to the scheme.

“David Cameron, in his speech to the Conservative party conference on October 4th, specifically referred to this, calling on all faith schools to admit 25 per cent not of their faith to new schools,” the minister wrote in the leaked letter.

He added: “Faith schools have been the subject of a great deal of debate in the Lords so far, and concern about their impact unites peers from across the House.

“I should like to amend the bill to ensure that the necessary powers are in place so that new faith schools are inclusive, including in their admissions arrangements.”

Under the leaked proposals, faith schools would only be obliged to offer a quarter of classroom places to non-believers if their local council requested it, but the final authority would rest with the education secretary himself in cases that provoked strong opposition.