Thank you for contacting me about faith schools.
All children deserve the best education wherever they live and whatever their background. Every family in Hastings and Rye should be able to access a good school, and that is why I welcome measures announced to create more places across the school system, giving families greater choice and raising standards for pupils.Currently one in three state-funded schools are faith based. They have a strong record of high pupil attainment and are often very popular with parents. Many are good or outstanding, and I know that more want to open. New faith schools can apply to open as free schools, with a 50 per cent cap on faith admissions, and new voluntary-aided schools can also be created to meet local demand for faith schools.
I appreciate there are concerns regarding the 50 per cent cap, and I understand that the Government continues to keep this under review and is open to discussing this issue with groups who provide schools with a religious charter, including the Catholic Church.
The voluntary-aided route allows schools to apply to open with up to 100 per cent faith-based admissions, but they can only use faith-based selection if they are oversubscribed.
A full list of the applications received to open new free schools is published on GOV.UK. This will include the proposed school’s name, local authority, type of school, phase and faith ethos or designation. If an application to set up a new school is successful, the full application is then also published online. The list of current free schools can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/free-schools-successful-applications.
I can assure you that all schools are expected to fulfil their legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010 to promote community cohesion and to teach a broad and balanced curriculum. Indeed, faith schools, as with all other schools, are expected to be inclusive and play an active role in their communities, as well as promote integration and an understanding of different faiths and communities.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about this issue.
Sally-Ann Hart MP