‘Secular campaigns against church schools must stop’
Mon, 25 Jan 2016
The Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has announced plans to prevent “vexatious” secularist campaigns against church schools.
The announcement came in response to concerns that groups such as the Fair Admissions Campaign are targeting state-funded faith schools with objections about their admissions policies.
Currently, any person or group is able to lodge a complaint with Government watchdog the Office of the Schools Adjudicator about a school’s admission procedures.
Last year, 50 such complaints were made against faith schools by campaigners, prompting fears that senior teachers are being diverted from teaching children in order to deal with investigations by the watchdog.
England’s schools adjudicator, Elizabeth Passmore, said in her annual report that dealing with challenges against specific school admissions policies from those with “no connection in terms of seeking a place for their child” is “not good use of an adjudicator’s time and public money”.
Legally, when faith schools are oversubscribed they can prioritise applications from children with particular religious backgrounds.
Mrs Morgan’s plans would allow only local parents to object to a school’s admissions procedures.
“We are ensuring only local parents and councils can object to admissions arrangements, which will also put a stop to vexatious complaints against faith schools by secularist campaign groups,” she said.
The Government is to consult on the plans in the next few months, and the British Humanist Association (BHA) has said it will be urging people to oppose the moves.