Surrey County Council is proposing to close a community school, and reopen the site as a voluntary aided faith school. Help us speak out against these plans.
Two schools near Egham in Surrey have recently experienced a decline in admissions. They are:
- Englefield Green Infant School and Nurseries, a community school in the village of Englefield Green
- Christ Church C of E Infant School, a voluntary aided faith school in Virginia Water
In response to their falling numbers, Surrey County Council wants to amalgamate the two schools.
Englefield Green Infant School has a larger, more modern building which is easily accessible and can accommodate the additional pupils.
If one of the schools must close, the logical course of action would be to close Christ Church C of E Infant School and for its pupils to transfer to Englefield Green Infant School.
But this is not what the council plan to do. Instead, they propose to close both schools, and then re-open the Englefield Green site as a new, voluntary aided faith school.
Englefield Green will lose its fully inclusive, religiously-neutral school to the Church of England.
Under the plans:
- The new school will have "a distinctly Christian ethos".
- Surrey County Council will transfer the school site from the council to be held in trust by the Church of England's diocese of Guildford.
- The new school will "work closely" with the local junior Church of England school, St Jude's C of E Junior School, "with potential for a more formal partnership in the future".
And because the school will be voluntary aided, this means:
- Although the proposal says the school will have the same admissions criteria as Englefield Green Infant Schools for September 2021, there are no guarantees that it will remain fully open to families of all faiths and none. In the future, the school could choose to select 100% of its pupils based on the religion of their parents, prioritising Anglican church-goers above other pupils where oversubscribed. Both Christ Church C of E Infant School and St Jude's C of E Junior School operate discriminatory admission policies.
- The school could apply a religious test when hiring, promoting or retaining any teacher. In practice such discrimination is usually restricted to senior roles and RE teachers.
- It would be permitted to teach denominational religious education (inspected by the Church of England rather than Ofsted).
- The vast majority of capital funding will come from public sources (90% from the DfE) but Guildford Diocese will hold the school in trust. All running costs will be paid by taxpayers.
Who are we?
No More Faith Schools is a national campaign coordinated by the National Secular Society and with supporters from a broad social, political and religious spectrum. We're dedicated to an end to state funded faith schools. We would like all schools to have an inclusive community ethos, free from any religious discrimination, privilege or control.
We help people challenge new faith schools, particularly where they have discriminatory admissions rules and where there are proposals for inclusive alternatives.
What's Our view
The families of Englefield Green must not lose their community school. The plan to turn it into a faith school must be halted.
If the schools are to be amalgamated, the obvious solution is to simply keep Englefield Green Infant School open and let it take on pupils from Christ Church C of E Infant School. Unlike voluntary aided faith schools, community schools genuinely treat all pupils, families and staff as equals, regardless of religion or belief.
When do you get a say?
Surrey County Council are now consulting on the proposed takeover.
1. Please respond to the consultation here, and tell the council why you disagree with the proposal to amalgamate Christ Church C of E Infant and Englefield Green Infant schools into a single VA faith school. Even if you responded to the previous informal consultation in January/February, it is very important that you respond again.
Please make the following points:
- If the two schools are to merge, the new school should have a community ethos and not a religious designation.
- Expanding faith school provision will disadvantage families who don't share the schools' faith.
- The fact that just 7 families chose Christ Church C of E Infant School in 2019/2020 suggests few parents specifically want a Church of England school.
- At a time when around 80% of people of parental age are non-Christian, and just 1% of young adults identify as Church of England, an expansion of faith school places makes little sense.
- The council's own informal consultation on the plans conducted in January and February found the majority of respondents (63%) did not agree with the plans. The majority of respondents who commented on the new school being a church school were against the faith school status.
You can also take a look at our response to the previous informal consultation to help you.
2. Please register for updates on this and other No More Faith Schools campaigns.
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