A Church of England (primary) faith school has been proposed in Hartlepool. There is no information on the website of the C of E's Durham diocese, though the school would likely be able to select up to half its pupils based on faith. According to the government's information on free school applications there is no need for new school places. According to the DfE's local authority school places scorecard 2019, 10 new primary school places were needed across the whole borough for September 2021.
We have approached Hartlepool Borough Council, seeking the local authority's view. We've also contacted the North of England regional school commissioner and the Department for Education seeking copies of the proposal, so we can properly scrutinise it.
A potential source of confusion: there is already a St. Joseph's Catholic primary faith school in Hartlepool, one of 13 faith schools in the town.
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.
Update 9 February 2021: The Department for Education has announced that this proposal has been approved in principle.
What's our view?
The full proposal should be published to allow proper scrutiny and a timeline for any consultations should be set out. Given the lack of need for new school places, The secretary of state should not support this proposal. If more school places are needed in future, then 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 faith schools.
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're seeking further information and will update supporters as soon as we know more about any consultations or chance to have your say. Please sign and share the petition below, ideally with a comment, to contribute to our challenge against the proposal.
Oppose the new St.Joseph’s C of E faith school, Hartlepool
A CofE faith school shouldn't be opened in Hartlepool without consultation or scrutiny. Any new school should have an inclusive community ethos, not an exclusive faith based one.
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