Friday, 9 September 2011

Caroline joins coalition to reform faith schools

It’s great to see it announced today that Caroline Lucas has joined the Accord Coalition to reform faith schools.

This is an initiative that I was involved in founding a few years ago. It brings together teaching unions such as the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, religious groups, identifiably secular organisations like the British Humanist Association, as well as a range of individuals like author Philip Pullman, former education minister Polly Toynbee, former Minister for Education Baroness Blackstone and the former Bishop of Edinburgh Richard Holloway.

The idea is to make faith schools more inclusive by bringing an end to their discrimination in both employment and admissions. Accord has a good databank of independent evidence on faith schools, but in summary they are more likely to have homophobic bullying, and take fewer children with Special Educational Needs and fewer eligible for free school meals.

The Accord Coalition also seeks an end to the legal requirement for all maintained schools (faith schools and others) to hold an act of collective worship each day. A BBC survey showed this week that not only do most parents not want their children to have to take part in this, but also that most schools aren’t holding them regularly.

I did an interview with Nicky Campbell on Radio 5 live on the subject on Tuesday. You can listen to a snippet here.

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