Posted: Wed, 16 Oct 2019
Campaigners in Lancaster have started a petition calling on a Church of England secondary school to end religious discrimination in its admissions policy.
Ripley St Thomas School is able to select up to 100% of its pupils on religious grounds, as an academy and a former voluntary aided faith school.
On the change.org website, the campaigners say:
- "All children" in the local area should have "equal access to secondary education".
- Ripley St Thomas should be open to all children as it is "a state-funded school, paid for through our taxes".
- The school is only allowed to practice religious selection because of exemptions from equality legislation, adding: "No other public service providers are allowed to discriminate in this way."
The school is currently entering a six-week consultation period regarding its admissions policy, which will end on Friday 8 November.
No More Faith Schools campaign coordinator Alastair Lichten called on local supporters to sign the petition.
"Children should be educated together regardless of their religious background and shouldn't face discrimination because of their parents' beliefs or lack of them. It's encouraging to see local groups taking grassroots action to make their schools more inclusive.
"This case also highlights how faith schools' admissions reduce choice for many parents. A move towards non-discriminatory admissions and an end to new faith schools need to be accelerated in areas of restricted choice.
"Ending discriminatory admissions is extremely popular and should act as a basic first step towards inclusion. And ultimately we urge the government to roll back faith based education, so schools are equally open to all children regardless of religion."
The local MP, Cat Smith, told the Lancaster Guardian that parents in the area had complained that Ripley St Thomas's system was "discriminatory" and "unfair". She noted that just one out of five state schools in the city considered all children equally.