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Faith schools: BAME kids face reduced chance of admission

FAITH SCHOOLS: The Department for Education has been praised for shining a light on the situation

MINORITY ETHNIC and economically deprived families have a significantly reduced chance of getting their children into state funded Church schools, a new Department for Education commissioned study has revealed.

The research has been conducted by Dr Matthew Weldon of Lancaster University's Department of Economics. The study has looked at a number of towns and the largest cities in England, and explored newly available data revealing parents' preferred choice of secondary school and the school their children subsequently gained access to.

The report finds local children of a minority ethnic background or who are entitled to the pupil premium are less likely than others to successfully gain a place at oversubscribed schools which determine their own admissions arrangements, including at Church schools in particular.

The report says that: “If a white child and a black child apply for a single remaining seat at a Church school in London, the black child is less than half as likely to be admitted.”

It also states that: “In [London] a hypothetical comparison between a Pupil Premium child and a non-Pupil Premium child for a Church school place, the probability that the Pupil Premium child would not be admitted is 0.62.”

Although the report concludes that causes of these differences are not clear, it finds “... possible explanations must focus on the admissions practices of Church schools”.

It further notes “these findings imply that the patterns of segregation in Church schools are not explained by [parental] preferences, and are, at least in part, due to children failing to gain admission at chosen schools”.

The Accord Coalition has praised the Department for shedding more light on these problems.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, the Reverend Stephen Terry, said: “The Department for Education should be credited for shining a light on how religiously selective admission policies are a significant source of socioeconomic disadvantage and on the especially under-reported problem of indirect racial discrimination. Schools selecting by faith is not only leading to religious division, but driving it on the grounds economic background and race too.

“These are difficult findings, but ones which must not be ignored if we are to consider the impact of schools operating religiously discriminatory admission arrangements. They bring into question the wisdom of opening new state funded faith schools that can religiously select pupils, and should pose serious questions about what can be done to make existing ones more inclusive.”

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