The Southwark C of E Diocese has proposed a new voluntary aided (VA) faith based secondary school in Kingston, London, to open September 2024. It's part of the first wave of new VA faith schools in a decade.
The Department for Education's own equality impact assessment has found that these proposals will disadvantage families who do not share these schools' religion and risk undermining community cohesion.
Despite claiming open "to all faiths and no faith", the statutory proposal makes clear that up to one third of school places will be "foundation places", meaning that if oversubscribed up to a third of pupils could be selected based on faith.
VA faith schools can theoretically apply a religious test in selecting up to 100% of teachers and pupils. They can teach faith based religious education and relationships & sex education, and enforce daily acts of denominational worship.
The diocese claims it has carried out consultations. However, these activities are more accurately described as evidence gathering, targeted primarily at supporters of the proposal.
100% of the schools costs will come from public funds. The 10% capital contribution normally required for VA school proposals will be covered by the local council.
Update 29 April 2021: The diocese have now published their statutory proposal. Comments on this can be made to the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames education authority by Friday 21 May. Comments and objections should be sent to Matthew Paul, Associate Director for School Place Planning for Kingston, at: email@example.com
Update 7 May 2021: We have a briefing to help individual supporters respond to the consultation.
Update 20 May 2021: We have submitted our response to the consultation.
Update 22 June 2021: The Council have approved the proposal subject to planning permission with a September 2025 opening date. We are working with local supporters to explore all possibilities.
What's our view?
Kingston London Borough Council should not support this proposal and should rigorously pursue alternative inclusive options to address new school need.
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.
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