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time to review faith school admission policies?

17 February 2014

The Schools Adjudicator has published a decision which criticised the admission policy for a faith school which gave priority to families who volunteered for activities in the local church. The adjudicator stated that the arrangements were contrary to the School Admissions Code 2012 and discriminated against single parents who had less time to volunteer for such activities and were not a test of that person’s faith but rather their availability. The decision has received a mixed response from secular and religious groups.

The decision, whilst receiving a mixed response, does provide further clarity for faith schools on how to approach the issue of priority for admission for faith based reasons. The decision should encourage faith schools to reconsider their policies and adopt criteria which are truly based on adherence to the faith (through church attendance) rather than any other support a family may provide to the school or religious body. Such an approach would protect the ethos of the school whilst ensuring the admission policy was fair, reasonable and objective.

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