Family & Education

Lib Dems call for an end to faith-based admissions


The Liberal Democrats have called for a radical reform of state-aided faith schools, including an end to selecting children on the basis of their religion.

Children at such schools would also have to learn about “all the major religious and non-religious viewpoints” and not just their own faith, according to a resolution passed at the party’s spring conference in York over the weekend.

Admission on the basis of religion or belief would be phased out over six years.

While recognising there was still a place for faith schools, the LibDems said that segregating schoolchildren could be “a contributory factor or cause of communities failing to integrate or growing apart”.

Under their new policy, the party would draw a distinction between education about religion and instructing children to follow a particular religion. Religious education in state schools should be taught in “a non-directive way”.

Pupils would not be required to attend acts of worship once “mature enough to decide for themselves”.

Children at faith schools should learn about all religious 

But Sheila Gewolb, a vice-president of the Board of Deputies, said the measures would affect the character of such schools.  “The popularity of faith schools with parents reflects their academic results, their ethos, their behavioural standards, and the contribution that their pupils go on to make in wider society,” she said.

“The success of these schools is partly due to the sense of shared values and a shared purpose. Quotas or other interventions in schools’ admissions criteria risk losing this benefit.”

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