BHA: Increase in faith schools due to “rigged” system

The proportion of schools with a religious character increased last year by the equivalent of 76 extra schools – and the proportion of pupils in ‘faith’ schools has also continued to rise. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has expressed dismay at the further segregation of the state-funded education system.

The proportion of primary schools with a religious character rose by the equivalent of 44 extra schools, while the proportion of secondary schools with a religious character rose by the equivalent of 32 extra schools. The proportion of pupils in primary schools with a religious character actually declined by the equivalent of 44,000; however, the proportion of pupils in secondary schools with a religious character rose by the equivalent 23,820. In addition, these statistics do not account for the increase in the number of ‘faith ethos’ Academies and Free Schools, which will be listed as having no religious character.

BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘Our recent investigation into how schools have been opening over the last five years revealed that there are a number of reasons for the rise in the proportion of “faith” schools. New “faith” schools are opening outside of competition, by the back door; existing schools are closing at a lower rate than other schools; schools without a religious character are converting to “faith” schools, but not vice versa; and a merger involving a “faith” school and another school will invariably result in a “faith” school.

‘The reason for this in every case is not due to public support for “faith” schools, but because the system is rigged: “faith” schools are much more readily able to open by the back door; the guidance on school closures and on mergers favours “faith” schools; and religious bodies are able to veto their schools losing a religious character.

‘We campaign for an end to the proliferation of state-funded schools because they discriminate in admissions policies, they discriminate in employment policies, and they discriminate in how they teach Religious Education and Sex Education. We will continue to work to halt the rise, for example through the legal case we are supporting in Richmond.’


For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7462 4993.

View the statistics on the number of state-funded schools and pupils by type of establishment and religious character for 2005-12, as compiled by the BHA:

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools: