A Christian secondary school has been proposed in Hampshire. Little information is currently available, and it is not clear whether it is supported by the Portsmouth and Winchester Diocesan Academies Trust, the largest faith school sponsor in the area. There are already 133 faith schools in Hampshire. The school would likely be able to select up to half its pupils based on faith.
We have approached Hampshire County Council, 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.
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?
Significant housing developments in North Hampshire mean several hundred new secondary school places are likely to be needed. All relevant parties (the local authority, Department for Education, regional school commissioner and local education providers) should work together to develop inclusive community ethos alternatives to divisive faith schools. 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.
We are still working to establish the proposal's exact location and sponsor. As soon as we have any information on consultations, we will share it. Please sign and share the petition below, ideally with a comment, to contribute to our challenge against the proposal.
Oppose the new faith school in North Hampshire
A Christian faith school shouldn't be opened in North Hampshire without consultation or scrutiny. Any new school should have an inclusive community ethos, not an exclusive faith based one.
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