Faith schools perform less well under fairer assessment, says study

Posted: Fri, 01 Nov 2019

School sign

Faith schools drop dramatically in league tables when fairer indicators of pupils' background are taken into account, a study by University of Bristol academics has found.

The study, published by the think tank the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, found that faith schools' scores fall "substantially" once educational advantage is taken into account.

Faith schools tend to gain high average scores under Progress 8, an official measure which the Department for Education uses to hold schools to account.

But the study found that Progress 8 punishes schools for teaching high proportions of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The study proposes a different measure of school performance, called the Fair Secondary School Index. A fifth of schools saw their national league table position change by over 500 places in this index, in comparison to the Progress 8 measure.

In response to the study, No More Faith Schools campaigner Alastair Lichten said: "Proponents of faith schools often argue that a religious school ethos leads to better academic results. But this is just the latest evidence to expose that myth.

"Where faith schools appear to do better than other schools, it's often the result of social selection – a process which harms opportunities for disadvantaged pupils and undermines social cohesion.

"Once the myth of faith schools' academic prowess is exposed, it becomes even harder to justify segregating children by religious background or pushing religious worldviews on them."

Read more: Faith and grammar schools plummet in 'fairer' tables, via Tes

See also: League tables overestimate faith school performance, says study