BHA: Lord Baker says expanding number of religious schools is ‘very wrong’

Lord Kenneth Baker, the Conservative former Secretary of State for Education and Science who first introduced the National Curriculum, has expressed his disappointment at the increase in the number and diversity of religious schools since 1997. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed Lord Baker’s comments.

In a recent interview in The House Magazine, Lord Baker commented:

‘I think the Labour Party in 1997 was very wrong to open up the possibility of having more religious schools. When I was Education Secretary I did not approve any independent religious schools. I went to a Church of England primary school myself and I liked it, it was a very good school. But Church of England primary schools are community schools, rather than church schools, and I believe very strongly that children of all faiths – Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist – and atheists should all study together, play together, eat together, go on the bus together. So I’m not in favour of any more faith schools.’

BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal commented, ‘Unlike Lord Baker we have concerns that many Church schools – particularly secondaries and those following the voluntary aided model – segregate in admissions and employment and discriminate in curriculum in just the same way as other “faith” schools do.

‘However, that point aside, we welcome Lord Baker’s comments as identifying that it is wrong to separate children on account of their parents’ religion or non-religious beliefs. Society would be much better if children from all backgrounds are educated together in an inclusive environment, instead of being increasingly separated into ethno-religious pockets as the number and proportion of religious schools continues to go up.’

Last week the BHA published new research showing that religious schools are on some measures the most racially segregated state schools.

For further comment or information, please contact BHA Education Campaigner Richy Thompson at or on 0781 55 89 636.
Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools:
View the BHA’s table of types of school with a religious character:
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.