32% of new free schools are faith schools

Francis Gilbert's picture
Another informative press release from the British Humanist Association, listing the new faith based schools.

"33 new ‘faith’ schools and one new pseudoscientific school have been 'pre-approved' by the Department for Education (DfE) to open from 2013. These schools form part of the 102 schools approved in the so-called ‘third wave’ of Free School proposals. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has expressed regret at the approvals, which include the first ever state-funded special needs and alternative provision ‘faith’ schools.


102 new Free Schools have been approved by the DfE in total. Of the 33 ‘faith’ schools, 20 are formally designated as such, whereas 13 have a ‘faith ethos’. The group also includes the first ever multi-faith/spiritual school, and a school proposed by a creationist group.


The BHA believes the 33 ‘faith’ schools are:


Church of England (8):


  • Bradford Girls' Grammar School – previously a private school

  • Cathedral Primary School , Bristol

  • Fulham Boys School

  • Sparkwell All Saints Primary School, Devon

  • St Mary’s CE Primary School, Herefordshire

  • St Mary’s Hampton Church of England Primary School

  • St Mary Magdalene Academy Courtyard, Islington – Anglican ethos special school

  • The St Marylebone Bridge School, Westminster – Anglican ethos special school


Greek Orthodox (1):


  • St Andrew the Apostle Greek Orthodox School


Christian (12):


  • Durham Free School

  • Exemplar – Newark Business Academy – Christian ethos/creationist

  • Hope Community School, Bexley

  • King's School, Hove

  • Oasis Community School Waterloo – Christian ethos

  • Sevenoaks Christian School

  • St Anthony's School, Gloucestershire – previously a private school and with ‘strong links with the Catholic Church’

  • The London Riverside School, Barking and Dagenham – Christian ethos

  • Tyndale Community School, Oxfordshire

  • University Cathedral Free School, Cheshire West and Chester – Christian ethos

  • Wye Free School, Kent – Christian ethos

  • Southend YMCA Community School – Christian ethos alternative provision school


Sikh (4):


  • Khalsa Science Academy, Leeds

  • Khalsa Secondary School, Slough

  • Nanaksar Primary School, Hillingdon

  • Nishkam School West London, Hounslow


Jewish (3):


  • Leeds Jewish Free School

  • South London Jewish Primary School, Wandsworth

  • The New Jewish Primary School, Barnet


Muslim (3):


  • Rainbow Schools, Nottingham – Muslim ethos

  • The Northern Lights Primary School, Calderdale

  • The Olive School, Blackburn


Hindu (1):


  • Anand Primary School, Wolverhampton


Multi-faith/spiritual (1):


  • Collective Spirit, Oldham – faith ethos


In addition, the pseudoscientific Steiner Academy Exeter has been approved to open.


BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘It is disappointing to see a further diversification of the “faith” schools sector: with not only more evangelical schools and more pseudoscientific schools, but also the first special needs and alternative provision schools.


‘“Faith” schools are discriminatory and divisive, selecting pupils and staff based on religious beliefs and teaching skewed curricula. The BHA believes all schools should be inclusive to everyone, regardless of religion or non-religious beliefs.’"
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Rosemary Mann's picture
Sat, 14/07/2012 - 13:59

I agree about this sort of thing fracturing our society but wonder if the numbers are really that significant at present to warrant real anxiety however from a general policy position its not a good move. I think it would be disastrous if that continues though and my own view is that all schools should be secular with religious education provided as an option or as a more general theme. One of my friends sends her children to a Spanish school sponsored by the Spanish government. She was keen to do that so as to preserve her childrens heritage as well as make her dual nationality ( Spanish and Moroccan) children fluent in Spanish. I dont think provision like this hurts society very much in fact but to have more religious determination of schools really is not a good thing although if push came to shove I ( an atheist) would send my children to a C of E school if it was the best option available for us as I think C of E is pretty inocuous in any case ( sorry if that offends!) and I can always use this to teach my children that sometimes you have to put up with things that you dont believe in and play the game.

There is a local example which to me illustrates the ludicrosity of setting up strictly and narrowly defined schools; primary places in my area are under considerable pressure and the Council have offered children places several miles away from their homes, with many people not getting any of their first 6 choices at all. As a result, many parents are being offered and are accepting places in a local Catholic school as it does have good results but spare capacity( normally children come in from a wider catchment area) but I can see many people not wanting to send their children to a faith school and can also imagine potential conflict if children of non Catholic, non religious parents don't accept the status quo or make rebellious noises against religious teachings etc. I don't think this makes for a happy marriage however this Catholic school is a state school and hence local children have a right to go there. To me this just illustrates the fallacy of the whole thing and why it seems that no one will really get what they want to why bother in the first place. Faith parents presumably dont want their children to have their views mocked either actively or passively but that is what will surely happen if there is pressure on local schools and the only available space is in a 'specialist' or faith school. If you suddenly have wastage due to say, a lack of Catholic parents in the area, then many more places will probably not be filled.
The best approach and one most cost effective (especially in a recession) is for a wholly secular one which provides an acceptable common denominator with opportunities for parents to bolt on other 'interests' as they see fit. As a parent I do not 'own' my children and certainly not their minds. I dont see it as my right to impose a belief structure upon them from the word go nor do I think any child should have to encounter this scenario under the auspices of 'state' education. Let them educate their children privately, let their churches fundraise to support their schools, but please do not take my hard earned taxes and spend them on culturally and ethnically divisive education structures which goes against the society that even the Tory part seems to want to create.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 14/07/2012 - 14:33

roslyn - our posts crossed. We both agree that the C of E is in your words "pretty innocuous" and in mine "anglican lite" (or more accurately, "religion lite"). I think what we mean is that although CofE schools have a label they generally adhere to the Golden Rule - "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" - which is a pretty good rule for anyone to live by.

That said, I think it's important that all children learn about the beliefs of other people and that all children learn about Christianity because they can't understand Western art, literature, culture or history without a knowledge of Christianity. But knowing about something doesn't mean you have to believe it and beliefs shouldn't be presented as fact. It is also not acceptable if faith schools make children feel inferior or wicked because they don't attend their place of worship or if the faith school teaches intolerance, even hatred, towards others.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 10:03

Let them educate their children privately, let their churches fundraise to support their schools, but please do not take my hard earned taxes .........

Roslyn, what makes you think it is your hard earned taxes that are going to pay for C of E, Catholic or Jewish schools? Don't Anglicans, Catholics and Jewish people pay taxes too?

Of course they do. And it is their taxes, not yours paying for their children's education.

Besides, I wonder if you are a net contributor anyway. I don't know how much you earn or how much hard earned taxes you pay.... or indeed how many children you have going through the state system. But look at it this way: if education accounts for around 12% of total government spending, then you'd have to be supplying £100,000 in tax (directly in taxes you pay or indirectly through tax on profits you generate) to be covering the cost of 2 kids in secondary school (6K each). That means you'd have to be responsible for supplying more than £100k in taxes before you had any right to think you were paying for someone else's kid.

andy's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 15:32

Janet, I fail to comprehend the leap you make here in that you refer to faith schools but then portray them all as conveying their faith as fact and even worse explicitly imply that they corrupt children and teach hatred ...

"But knowing about something doesn’t mean you have to believe it and beliefs shouldn’t be presented as fact. It is also not acceptable if faith schools make children feel inferior or wicked because they don’t attend their place of worship or if the faith school teaches intolerance, even hatred, towards others."

This is not your usual measured and considered approach to issues, which leave me feeling highly quizzical and rather disappointed. Made all the worse as it is equally clear that it is based on a projected supposition "... if faith schools make children ..."

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 14/07/2012 - 14:16

"Don't Divide the Children" - the message from Synod in February seems to have been ignored.

What does a "christian ethos" mean? Some schools unashamedly use this as a marketing ploy implying that their school is more moral than a neighbouring non-faith school. However, when it comes to practice, many faith schools show decidedly unchristian practices - operating a strict admissions criteria which discriminates against children of other faiths and non-believers. They construct a series of hoops eg baptism, church attendance, helping in church activities (although this is not allowed under the new Admissions Code - the only church activities which can be listed are those given in Canon Law). They would rather accept the children of hypocrites (the ones who dutifully turn up in church every week when their child reaches year 5) than the children of honest doubters or honest atheists.

All schools should be open to all children. And to be fair, many faith schools are. C of E Voluntary Controlled schools, for example, accept all children, and their "christian ethos" is anglican "lite", promoting respect, generosity and love without expecting children to become believers, attend church or operating an admissions criteria which implies a hierarchy of acceptedness.

That said, the whole free school policy needs rethinking. It is not acceptable that any school is established where there is no need for extra places. And where there is a need for extra places, the school provided should be open to all.


Sarah's picture
Sat, 14/07/2012 - 17:12

The diversification of education has another impact - it makes the effective planning of school places challenging in some communities. I know of two small villages which have both a CE and an RC primary school. Both are half empty and on the brink of closure because they are not viable. But in neither case will the respective Dioceses agree to amalgamate the provision to create a single school to serve the village to which children of all faiths or none could be admitted. How can this be in the interests of the most effective use of scarce financial resources.

Rosemary Mann's picture
Sun, 15/07/2012 - 07:08

Entirely agree, Sarah, but what is it going to take for this to be raised above the parapet to instigate the public outcry about the future of education and the wastefulness of it all. I hear and see no such outcry even amongst the opposition party who should be doing a lot more than they are. The truth will no doubt emerge at some point but reversing these decisions will be difficult if not impossible unless this policy is stopped in its tracks very soon.

Ben Taylor's picture
Sun, 15/07/2012 - 22:06

Can't wait to see the day when LSN will publically lecture our religious minorities (e.g. via the BBC or the Guardian), who also tend to mostly constituted of ethnic minorities, about why they need to give up their new and future free schools.

There would be not be this demand for faith schools if existing schools could respond. Why not just respond?

It also raises the question of what pseudoscience and faith the established state sector rests on which is being rejected.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 09:01


There appears to be some confusion here about both 'faith schools' and 'free schools'.

All free schools have to be open to members of all faiths and none. Free schools that opt to have a "faith ethos" cannot discriminate at all in favour of people sharing that faith for admissions. Nor can they select staff based on religious criteria.

Those that are actually 'designated' as faith schools can select pupils according to religious belief...... but only up to 50% of places in case of oversubscription.

That means that all free schools will have a mixed intake (so long as people who don't share the particular faith apply). CofE schools will most likely have 50% CofE, 50% other. I'd guess though that Jewish or Muslim schools won't have that many others applying, but I could be wrong.

The point is that free schools are much less selective/divisive/discriminatory or whatever than existing voluntary aided schools.

andy's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 09:22

Ricky, thank you for underscoring the rational sensibilities in the midst of yet another regrettable piece authored from a position deeply political and personal prejudice that woefully ignores the factual requirements integral to the policy.

I would also suggest that the historical experience in England and Wales of voluntary aided faith schools does not reflect tangible segregational issues or religious intolerance either between the faiths or between those of faith and non-faith. Church and Jewish VA schools have peacefully co-existed in England and Wales for several decades and their students have gone on to make positive contributions to society at local, regional and national levels.

For me this top page article is in the same league as the call to scrap fee-paying schools, an irrational personal rant built on a tissue of urban myth and ill/mis-informed deceits.

Take the near hysteria about a Creationist Free School. They have been required to agree to and give substantial undertakings (e.g. not teach creationism in science and not teacher it in RE as fact). It follows then that if they are found to be in breach of this they will be held to account and could be closed down or have the school taken away from them and transferred to another sponsor.

I am somewhat concerned about the often totalitarian views articulated by some on this site, so ultilitarian that they border on being Orwellian. Indeed if the range of topics covered in the headline views is laid alongside the published 'foundations' the analysis reflects a worrisome divergence from the stated goals of the founders. That is to say, rather than supporting and promoting local schools the majority of stories are focused on attacking the government education policy per se and for some personal attacks on Mr Gove as an individual. To borrow from another contributor, too many comments take the man not the ball.

Rosemary Mann's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 11:15

Ricky, faith schools are not intended for the general population, but children of a particular faith, or rather that of their parents. I personally resent paying for schools that cater for a minority and only a minority, unless there are extenuating reasons such a particularly deprived section of society for whom there is evidence supporting exclusive education or any group with special educational needs. I think its wasteful particulary if there are no people coming forward to take up those places and it is undersubscribed. I feel the same way about Montessori primary schools- hardly offensive or religious but apart from the experimental value I would not want to see them funded from the state when we have the crise that we have . We need to maximise each pound spent on state education and that as I see it means creating an 'efficient' state system.

andy's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 11:45

Roslyn, you appear to overlook the actuality of the admissions code for faith based VA schools:

"Although faith schools may give priority to applicants who are of the faith of the school, they must admit other applicants if they cannot fill all of their places with children of the faith and ensure that their admission arrangements comply with the School Admissions Code."


You also neglect to mention that students not of the particularly faith involved have the legal right to have their children excused from RE lessons - wholesale or particular aspects - and likewise not attend specific faith based assemblies and other activities (e.g. attending religious services).

It is then possible for parents to take-up undersubscribed placed at faith schools without having to comply with/attend faith based lessons/activities. In this way they can participate in "state" education. A classic example of this is Jehovah's Witnesses being excused all RE based activities in non-faith based comprehensive schools.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 12:16


faith schools are not intended for the general population, but children of a particular faith, or rather that of their parents.

You still seem to be struggling to grasp the fact that free schools are required to be open to all and that even those designated as faith schools can only use faith criteria for 50% of places.

I personally resent paying for schools that cater for a minority and only a minority..

As I explained further up this thread, it is most unlikely that you are paying anything at all to support faith schools. It is not your taxes, but the taxes of the parents with kids in faith schools, that pay for them. If you have a child/children yourself, you would have to be very rich indeed and be paying bucket loads of tax even to cover the costs of your own child/childrens schooling, so it is unlikely that you have any good grounds to resent paying for anyone else's.

I think its wasteful particulary if there are no people coming forward to take up those places and it is undersubscribed.

I have no hard data to point to at present, but I think it's safe to say that faith schools are rarely undersubscribed. Indeed, as they (particularly CofE and Catholic) tend to do conspicuously well in league tables, they are probably more proportionately oversubscribed and undersubscribed schools will generally be secular ones.

On the whole, I feel it would be fairer and more just for schools to have an ethos and/or faith orientation conforming to the wishes of the parents whose children attend them rather than one prescribed by you. Who are you to tell other parents how their children should be educated?

andy's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 12:32


Roslyn (and others) also overlook the fact that faith based VA schools own their own land and a substantial range of their building stock. They are also not 100% funded by the state. So to close them and turn them into comprehensives would cost an arm and a leg as well as be an infringement of their legal entitlement.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 12:40


You are right. The churches do own the land and buildings and let the state use them for free. I've just learned from Google that in the case of Catholic schools, the Catholic Church has to stump up 10% of all other capital costs too. Which I guess means the Catholics are actually subsidizing the rest of us, rather than vice versa as Roslyn suggests.

andy's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 12:50

The same goes for the CoE and Jewish Schools. What I've been unable to trace is whether any of the pre-coalition minority faith schools also own their own land and buildings. But common across the piece is that any/all capital expenditure items require a 10% contribution from the faith group involved.

Rosemary Mann's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 22:29

Sorry I dont agree. No one is forcing churches of any persuasion to run schools. If they have to stump up 10% of all capital costs then thats just the price they pay to keep their buildings in business. If they didnt 'subscribe' to the state system and receive basic need funding they would have to be funded voluntarily or become fee paying or close. Who's subsidising who again?

And Ricky Id like to know how faith schools are just funded by the parents who send their children there. We all subsidise all of our schools. I dont accept the argument about having to have a proportion of non faith children at any faith school actually benefits us. It actually reduces the ability of that school to address the need of their local community in the way that a LA supported school would do. 50% is not a great return frankly and not a good reason to continue.

Institutions like the Catholic Church and Church of England in particular have large estates worth a lot of money.They are major landowners in the UK. I do not see a 10% contribution would result in any hardship to them

I am hardly telling parents how their children should be educated. I simply think that with public finances so restricted all schools must be open to all and I think that faith schools of any description restrict the offer in any particular catchment area. If people want particular faiths or philosophies to be followed then by what right do they look to the hard pressed state and local authority system to provide it when others who may live close by cant get in because they dont want their child to be educated within a faith school. Its also indisputable that populations do over time, change.
I had a few years ago some professional dealings with a synagogue in north London who had a small school attached. The population dwindled as people moved out to the more leafy suburbs leaving a semi derelict synagogue and a school building which couldnt be occupied. That was therefore demolished and rebuilt as social housing. 20 years ago the synagogue and school were thriving but no more.

We all know that churches are finding it difficult to retain their congregations so where is this demand for faith schools coming from? Is it a real demand for the faith or a demand for a good school, however a good school is not necessarily synonymous with faith or vice verse.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Tue, 17/07/2012 - 08:05


Who’s subsidising who again?

It looks like churchgoers are subsidising those who stay in bed on Sundays. How? Well, secular state schools get 100% of both revenue and capital spending supplied by the state. It seems faith schools have to find 10% of capital spending from the collection plate. That means religious parents are subsidising irrelegious ones.

Id like to know how faith schools are just funded by the parents who send their children there. We all subsidise all of our schools.

People who pay more tax than the value of the services they consume can be said to be subsidising our schools.

But you seemed to think YOU were paying for faith schools. I simply pointed out that Catholics, Anglicans and Jews all pay taxes too, so there's no reason to think the taxman is troubling you for the money.

Institutions like the Catholic Church and Church of England in particular have large estates worth a lot of money.They are major landowners in the UK. I do not see a 10% contribution would result in any hardship to them

I expect you're not so badly off yourself, so would it be fair if I just popped round and took a £20 note out of your purse? I mean, it wouldn't cause you hardship, would it? (it's amazing how left wing people so often insist on their own property rights but are dead casual and insouciant about those of others!)

Is it a real demand for the faith or a demand for a good school, however a good school is not necessarily synonymous with faith or vice versa..

I expect it's a bit of each. But on the whole faith schools seem to be good + popular while community schools tend to be bad + unpopular at secondary level.

andy's picture
Tue, 17/07/2012 - 10:37


"Institutions like the Catholic Church and Church of England in particular have large estates worth a lot of money.They are major landowners in the UK. I do not see a 10% contribution would result in any hardship to them"

So too are the sponsors of both the Labour inspired and Coalition's Academies and Free Schools but I don't see them contributing through owning their own land and buildings or contributing to the capital running costs.

In your original comment you mention falling roles at a CoE and RC Primary and an unwillingness to merge. This may well be the case but if they persist in that line then both will close and more fool them. There are however, examples of joint ventures between both denominations, which points up the foolhardiness of the parishes to which you refer.

I note that you fail to respond to the admissions issue and legal right of non faith based parents attending a faith based school to opt out of the specific faith based activities, and indeed out of RE altogether.

This country has a long history of accepting, welcoming and making provision for faith based schools (i.e. chiefly CoE, RC and Jewish). The country has also been through financially straightened times before e.g. WWI and II and yet none seemed think that withdrawing faith school funding was an answer. Perhaps this was becasue if you think the proposition through the government making such a decision would have to:

1. Either buy the land and school buildings from the faith group involved or if the group were unwilling to sell, go out and find more land and build from scratch
2. 100% fund the new state schools

After all you cannot simply close the faith schools without providing places for the students involved. Nor can or should on e assume that the faith group would sell to the state. It is a free country and they have the right to sell to any organisation, which means if they are as cash strapped as you consider them to be then I suspect that the highest bidder will win out.

In the context of education policy for England and Wales and therefore the impact of faith schools in those countries you state that "this sort of thing fracturing our society " but fail to provide any evidence to support your position.

"It actually reduces the ability of that school to address the need of their local community in the way that a LA supported school would do."

Evidence please. The existing range of faith schools all contribute to their local communities. I am unaware of them limiting their undertaking of charity event to their faith group only or that the community use of their facilities is restricted to faith members only.

"50% is not a great return frankly and not a good reason to continue."

It's about balance and even then if the 50% faith based proportion dips then they must accept children of non faith parents to fill the places. Thus the 50/50 is not a hard and fast cap.

"We all know that churches are finding it difficult to retain their congregations so where is this demand for faith schools coming from?"

Yes, in some areas of the country the congregations of CoE and RC churches are waning but this is not so for other Christian denominations. The fastest growing faith group in the country is Islam, which allied to a prior dearth of school provision goes some way to explaining the growth in demand. Returning to the CoE and RC congregations issue you explicitly imply that the associated schools are only populated by church-goers. This is inaccurate. There are very many parents who are members of the denomination involved but who don't attend church services but wish to have their children attend their faith based school.

What I adduce from your comments is that as an atheist you are against any form of faith based school and subscribe to the view that matter of faith should be dealt with at home and through the faith community. This is a wholly logical, rational and tenable stance. But making unevidence asssertions about the impact of faith schools takes one into a different scenario altogether.

Rosie Fergusson's picture
Tue, 17/07/2012 - 18:10

The Canary Wharf College Primary has decided to introduce faith criteria ( I'm pretty sure it didn't open as a faith school)..


andy's picture
Tue, 17/07/2012 - 21:06

Rosie, CWC featured in a thread by Francis in January 2011:


which indicated that it was always planned to have a Christian environment with no denominational connection (including no link to any church) and accepts children all all faiths and none:

"The aim of Canary Wharf College is “to live, share and celebrate the love of learning”; this will be achieved in a Christian environment welcoming children from different faiths and ethnic backgrounds. Together we respect our many differences."


It is interesting to note that some parents came back to the site in January 2012 to comment on the school, which were positive and appreciative of the school.

With regard to admissions their policy states:

"Admissions Criteria

Canary Wharf College will comply with the Schools Admissions Code. A maximum of 20 places per class will be admitted.

Applications for places at the College will be made in accordance with the Local Authority's co-ordinated admission arrangements, and will be made on the Common Application Form provided by the Home Local Authority where the child resides. Those applying for Faith Places should also complete the Supplementary Information Form and ensure it is returned to the College by the date specified in the College¡¦s prospectus and on its website.

If the College is under-subscribed, all applications will be accepted. Where the College is over-subscribed, applications will be considered against the criteria set out below, after the admission of students with a statement of Special Education Need that names the College. Places will be allocated to applicants in the following priority order:

1. Children who are looked after by a local authority (in public care)
2. Children whose parents are Founders of the College
3. Applicants who meet the criteria for Faith Places (up to 50% of total places)
4. Applicants who meet the criteria for Community Places

Faith Places

Faith Places are designed to help to maintain the College¡¦s Christian ethos and its designation as a school of Religious Character. Faith places will be offered to those who are able to meet either of the following criteria:

Children whose parents are associated with a Christian church or chapel

Children who have been Baptised or Dedicated in a Christian church or chapel

If applications for Faith Place are less than 50% of the total places, all the applications will be accepted and the balance of the places will be allocated as Community Places.

If applications for Faith Places are over-subscribed, those living closest to the College will be given priority. Applicants not offered Faith Places will be considered against the criteria for Community Places.

Community Places

Community Places are available to all applicants.
Community Places will be offered in the following order of priority:

1. Children with exceptional need
2. Siblings of children on the roll of the College at the time of admission
3. Children who live closest to the College

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 18/07/2012 - 10:17

andy - I notice that Canary Wharf College, like many faith schools, asks parents to complete a supplementary form requesting evidence of faith adherence (eg baptism certificates). The Canary Wharf College "Minister's Reference Template" (downloadable below) ask parents to indicate:

"Length of time of association:
Regular worshipper / frequency:
Helper or organiser of Church activity (give details):"

The Admission Code is quite clear. The faith criteria can be upheld by activities laid down in the church's Canon Law but not for other activities such as helping with church activities (which could cover such stuff as flower arranging, church cleaning and so on).

It would seem that Canary Wharf College is in breach of the code.


Andy's picture
Wed, 18/07/2012 - 10:54

Janet, before moving on to your comment I would like to stress that my comments were in way intended to be anything other than an accurate representatiion of the previaling situation, which I hoped Rosie might find useful/informative.

If, and I underscore if, I understand you correctly you are saying that the third bullet point you make places the school in breach of both it's own admissions policy and that of Church canon law. In relation to the first part I can only invite attention to the schools own published information:

"Church Association
Association with a church means significant attendance at worship services, or work with a church organisation. A Vicar’s/Minister’s letter will be required, which must confirm that in his/her opinion the association was not made for the sole purpose of securing a College place. Families who have moved into the area within the previous year will need to provide a Vicar’s/Minister’s letter to confirm that they were associated with a church in the place where they used to live. Emails will be acceptable in place of letters.

A Christian church or chapel refers to those churches that are members of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland or are members of the Evangelical Alliance, or international mainstream Christian churches in fellowship with them.

Baptism or Dedication
A Baptism or Dedication certificate will be needed, or else a letter from a Vicar/Minister to confirm the event."

This appears to be consistent with the section you quote from the admissions policy document.

The stumbling block would appear to be Canon Law relating to 'church activities'. In this regard it might be worth consisdering that they are not attached to or sponsored by any Christian denomination and as such Canon Law cannot be applied (and by Canon Law I assume you are quoting CoE/Anglican).

On the basis of logical, rational and consistency it appears that the 3 criteria you quote are reasonable aspects of a persons faith life to explore and act as tools to try and filter out catchment hoppers who might displace a genuine applicant.

Just a thought or two ...

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 18/07/2012 - 11:15

andy - your point which says that Canon Law wouldn't apply because Canary Wharf College isn't actually affiliated to a particular Christian church is one I hadn't thought of. I wonder what the Schools Adjudicator would make of it.

I think the Adjudicator would need the wisdom of Solomon (biblical knowledge needed to understand that reference - that's why I support all children learning about Christianity and the bible - as well as tenets of other faiths - children can't understand Western culture, literature and so on without knowing these stories.)

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 18/07/2012 - 11:09

andy - reply to comment above (missed it earlier) when you said:

"I fail to comprehend the leap you make here in that you refer to faith schools but then portray them all as conveying their faith as fact and even worse explicitly imply that they corrupt children and teach hatred ."

You misunderstood - I didn't mean to convey that all faith schools teach their religion as fact. Guidance from the DfE says:

"Pupils should have the opportunity to learn that there are those who do not hold religious beliefs and have their own philosophical perspectives, and subject matter should facilitate integration and promotion of shared values."


It follows, then, that a school can't present its own faith position as proven fact (which is in any case not proven) while at the same time promoting respect for those who believe something different or have no faith at all.

Any school's admissions code which prioritises children of one faith is discriminating against those of another faith or none. Even if a school says it allows up to 50% of its places to be filled by non-faith pupils it is still implying that it values faith pupils above others.

Discrimination doesn't have to be obvious - it can be subtle, and schools' admission criteria that prioritise people according to what they say they believe is discrimination.

Andy's picture
Wed, 18/07/2012 - 11:56

Janet, I have assumed that every new school will have its admissions policy scrutinised by the appropriate official authorities and cannot therefore comment on any suggestion as to whether the CWC policy is in accord with or in breach of the national legislation.

With regard to the coverage of units of study in RE none of us is a position to comments becasue we don't have the schemes of work to hand. Suffice to say that it is likely that they will cover world religions and, yes, have a focus on the central tenets of the Christian faith. However, it has been my experience that the views/positions of agnostics and atheists are also covered. The real bottom line here is that whether Christianity or other faith system is being taught it is covered from the perspective of belief and faith, not as fact (e.g. Muslims believe Muhammed received the Koran in a cave part way up a mountain from an angel called Jibril, Hindus believe that the OM is a divine vibration of the the divine act of creativity that still sounds today and supports and maintains creation, Sikhs believe that all roads lead to the divine source of everything). Nowhere is the religious viewpoint being presented as fact rather it is presented as a matter of belief and faith.

Thereafter we are back to the issue of Ultimate Questions (e.g. What is the purpose of life? Is there life after death? Does God exist?) and as we have discussed elsewhere there are no concrete unequivocal irrefutable answers to such questions. There are however many circular debates e.g. what caused the big bang? Particles that came together to cause an explosion that set everything in motion and caused everything we know and have yet to know to come into existence. Question, how did the particles get there in the first place, did they create themselves? How was it that exactly the right types, quantities and qualities of particles happened to be there? How was it that they all came together at the right time in the right place at exactly the right speed and force to create exactly the right explosive type, power and heat to cause creation to come into being and then sustain it? On the other side of the debate comes the Divine position, it was God who did it. God cause the big bang and brought creation into being and sustains it. But hang on a minute, where did this Divine source called God come from? How did God come into being? Who/What made God? And, so on. The real answer is that no-one knows and no-one can prove the origin and/or reason for creation. It all comes down to personal choice as to which hypothesis one accepts. Scientific theory or Theology ...

Thus is parents choose the Scientific articulation then they don't send their children to a faith school and if parents choose the Faith based articulation they prefer to send their children to a Faith school. It's their choice ...

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 18/07/2012 - 14:42

andy - one would hope that the admissions policies were scrutinised thoroughly but I think some breaches may have been glossed over in the rush to get free schools permission to open. There is likely to be evidence supporting this claim in the next couple of weeks.

Re your other comments: to avoid repetition see the thread about the BHA peitition - my comment 2.07pm 18/07/12.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Wed, 18/07/2012 - 18:15

Janet + Andy

I don't know if this is significant, but the Admissions Policy is dated October 2011 and the DfE's new Admissions Code had effect from 1 Feb 2012.

That said, I doubt there is anything wrong with CWC giving "good works" for a church organization equal value with worship attendance. If anything, it's a broader and more open-minded way of establishing Christian credentials. I think they mean soup runs, not flower-arranging.

Andy's picture
Wed, 18/07/2012 - 18:28

Agreed, Ricky. For the evangelical Christian denominations actions speak louder than word also referred to as lived out faith or faith in action. I also suspect that it can be used a more refined filter tool e.g. if both the 50% faith and 50% non-faith allocations are over subscribed then it is possible that a family whose references cover all 3 strands will stand a better chance than those with only 1 or 2 strands met.

Andy's picture
Wed, 18/07/2012 - 14:54

Janet, re admissions policies and scrutiny - we are in the domain of speculation and supposition. I cannot prove that the policy was properly scrutinised and you cannot prove it wasn't.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 18/07/2012 - 16:29

andy - as I said, wait a couple of weeks.

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