A new survey conducted by YouGov for Prospect magazine has shown that the public support making all state schools secular by four to three. The survey asked respondents, ‘Here are some proposals regarding state schools. In each case, do you support or oppose the proposal? … Make all state schools secular, and stop them having special links with the Christian, Jewish, Muslim or any other religion.’ 49% supported this proposal, with 38% opposing. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has called for the Government to listen to the public and stop expanding the number of religious schools.
The results show opposition to state funded ‘faith’ schools is strongest in Scotland, where 63% of the public oppose and just 26% support – perhaps reflecting the fact that all bar four state funded religious schools in Scotland are Roman Catholic. Opposition also gets stronger as respondents get older, perhaps reflecting that older respondents are more likely to have had children and grandchildren fall victim to religious discrimination in school admissions, or inappropriate proselytising in Collective Worship.
The new survey has been released two months after another survey conducted by ComRes for the Accord Coalition found 73% of the public opposed to religious selection in admissions by state schools, with just 18% supportive. Accord has built up an extensive databank of independent evidence on ‘faith’ schools. In 2010, 59% of the public said that ‘Schools should be for everyone regardless of religion and the government should not be funding “faith” schools of any kind’, while in 2006 47% of head teachers agreed that there should be fewer or no ‘faith’ schools – with just 9% supporting the ongoing increase in their number.
BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘To those who would seek to justify the expansion in the number of religious schools as representing parental choice, we would not want to separate children on account of race or political ideology; similarly, the Government’s “faith” schools policy should be assessed on its merits. The evidence shows that such schools are discriminatory and divisive, and this is why the public oppose them. It is long past time that the Government started listening.’
For further comment or information, please contact BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson on 0781 55 89 636 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
YouGov conducted an online survey of 1,750 British adults between 6 and 7 January 2013 for Prospect magazine, with the results published on 24 January: http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/gzklm8utri/YG-Archive-Prospect-results-070113-education-state-schools.pdf
Read Prospect’s article, ‘Our schools ain’t broke’: http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/schools-polls-michael-gove/
Read the previous BHA press release, ‘In week of High Court case, new survey shows overwhelming majority against religious selection in schools’, 12 November 2012: http://humanism.org.uk/2012/11/12/news-1141/
Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools: http://www.humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/faith-schools
Read the BHA’s table of types of school with a religious character: http://www.humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/schools-with-a-religious-character.pdf
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.