King David Academy is a proposed Christian secondary school in Lewisham. Four of the six governors who would found the school are reverends or bishops in the United Pentecostal Church of GB and Ireland, including Bishop Leroy Francis, general superintendent of the church. The school would likely be able to select up to half its pupils based on faith.
We have approached London Borough of Lewisham, seeking the local authority's view. We've also contacted the South-East England and South London regional school commissioner (and the Department for Education seeking copies of the proposal, so we can properly scrutinise it.
There are already 22 faith schools in Lewisham, and according to the government's free school application information there's no need for new school places. According to the DfE's local authority school places scorecard 2019, zero new secondary school places were needed across the whole borough for September 2021.
Update 6 July 2020: The Department for Education has refused to publish the application forms for 19 faith schools proposed in wave 14 of the free school programme. They have confirmed that an unspecified number of these applications have been rejected, though they may reappear in a future round. The Department's justification includes that application should be "free from speculation and lobbying until the final decision is made". We regard this as an unacceptable attempt to restrict criticism from civil society and are considering an appeal against the decision.
What's our view?
This proposal is unnecessary and ill considered, and it should be clearly rejected. If there is a need in future for more school places in Lewisham, then all relevant parties (the local authority, Department for Education, regional school commissioner and local education providers) should work together to develop an alternative with a community ethos. The full proposal should be published to allow proper scrutiny and a timeline for any consultations should be set out.
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.
When do you get a say?
This application is part of wave 14 of the government's free school programme. The application may also reappear in future waves. Dates of this wave may be subject to change as a result of the Covid-19 crisis and opportunities for consultation are extremely limited. Interviews with wave 14 applicants may take place from spring 2020, with decisions by the DfE from the summer.
Given the lack of need for new school places in Lewisham and the poorly developed proposal, the application appears to be moribund, but could still be pushed in future. Please sign and share the petition below, ideally with a comment, to contribute to our challenge against the proposal.
Oppose the new King David faith school, Lewisham
A Christian faith school shouldn't be opened in Lewisham without consultation or scrutiny. Any new school should have an inclusive community ethos, not an exclusive faith based one.
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