More faith schools could ‘increase social segregation’, report warns

Increasing the number of faith schools could lead to ‘increased social segregation, with a risk of lower social mobility’, according to a new report.

The report, published by the Education Policy Institute (EPI), analysed overall attainment and progress made by pupils in faith schools, taking into account the characteristics of pupils, including levels of deprivation and special educational needs.

It was released following proposals in the ‘Schools that work for everyone’ green paper that suggested removing restrictions on faith schools which currently limits faith based admissions to 50 per cent.

The EPI found that faith schools enrol a larger proportion of high attaining pupils and educate proportionately fewer pupils with challenging needs, compared to non-faith schools.

Additionally, the EPI’s analysis shows that faith schools have a lower proportion of disadvantaged children, with the odds of a pupil in a secondary faith school being eligible for free school meals around two thirds of those for all children in their local area.

To impartially assess the impact of faith schools, the report analysed the performance data of faith schools controlling for deprivation, prior attainment and ethnicity and found that the difference in attainment between faith and non-faith schools is ‘largely eliminated’.

Taking into account the fact that the average faith school admits fewer pupils from poor backgrounds than the average non faith school, the EPI concluded that increasing the numbers of faith schools ‘would come at the price of increased social segregation’.

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