Celebrities hit out at plans for new faith schools

Stephen Fry​​​​​​​ and Sandi Toksvig sign letter arguing new wave of single-faith schools ‘threatens social cohesion’

Tes Reporter

At a time when we need to heal divisions in society, is it really good idea to allow more exclusive faith schools, asks parent Irena Barker

Celebrities, politicians and some of the UK’s leading thinkers have united to fight a plan for a new wave of single-faith schools, which they say “fundamentally threatens social cohesion”.

Writer Ian McEwan, film director Ken Loach, broadcaster Baroness (Joan) Bakewell and philosopher AC Grayling are among the signatories to a letter in The Sunday Times today. Other big names to sign the letter include Sandi Toksvig, David Baddiel and Stephen Fry.

They call on the government to scrap its decision to approve and pay for new schools that will be able to select 100 per cent of their pupils on religious grounds.

Quick read: Plans for new wave of religiously segregated schools revealed

Faith schools: Hinds wants more faith schools to become academies

Analysis: Does the DfE want new selective faith schools?

Not 'inclusive, diverse and integrated'

The letter states: “State schools should be inclusive, diverse and integrated, not exclusive, monocultural or segregated.”

It adds: “We urge the government to abandon its plans to create these schools. Instead we ask that all new schools are inclusive and welcoming to all children, irrespective of family background.”

In March, the Department for Education published details of 14 proposed new voluntary-aided schools which would be able to select all their pupils on the basis of their faith. They included Catholic, Church of England, Muslim, Hindu and Jewish schools.

New voluntary-aided schools

The bids for funding were submitted after the government controversially made free-school funding available for new voluntary-aided schools, which would be able select all pupils on religious grounds.

In January, education secretary Damian Hinds said: “The diversity of schools in this country is one our education system's most valuable assets, and faith schools play a pivotal role in that."

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