Spot checks show faith schools broke rules

4th April 2008 at 01:00
A majority of state faith schools break admissions rules, according to figures released by ministers - with some asking for parental contributions of up to pound;895 a term.

A total of 96 schools have been named and shamed for breaking the admissions code after government spot checks in Barnet, Manchester and Northamptonshire.

They include at least 55 per cent of faith schools that control their own admissions, and one in six of all schools across the three authorities.

Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, said there was no reason to believe the findings were out of line with the rest of the country, and said schools favouring particular types of pupils were "morally wrong".

Six of the schools - all in Barnet, north London - broke the code by asking for or making statements about contributions on admissions forms. They include Beis Yaakov Primary, which asked for pound;895 per child per term, and Mathilda Marks-Kennedy Jewish Primary, which asked for voluntary contributions of pound;670 per child per term.

The details largely vindicate Mr Balls, who was heavily criticised for giving "unverified desk research" to journalists last month on the day figures showed that a fifth of pupils had not got a place in their first-choice secondary school.

But the figures suggest that asking for money may be largely restricted to Jewish schools, five of the six that requested cash on admission forms. Extra money from parents to pay for security measures and the teaching of Jewish studies have been cited as reasons.

Hasmonean Primary in Barnet was the biggest offender, breaking 10 admissions rules. It asked for a pound;50 "admission fee", failed to give priority to pupils in care, and requested personal information from parents.

The next worst was another Jewish school, King David High in Manchester, which did not ask for a contribution but broke five rules, including taking account of children's behaviour. The rest of the list included 38 Church of England, 25 Catholic and 13 Jewish schools.

A Barnet Council spokesman said: "The faith schools which asked for voluntary contributions have made it absolutely clear that at no stage were voluntary contributions taken into account when allocating places."

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