‘A catastrophic setback’ BHA responds to reports that Government green paper will propose more religious selection of pupils in state funded faith schools

Newsnight has reported that a Government green paper due to be published today will propose relaxing the 50% rule which was introduced to encourage more social cohesion and limit the segregating effects of faith schools. The current rules mean that only half of a schools intake can be selected by reference to the faith of the childrens parents.

Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association Andrew Copson commented 'If the Government moves to scrap the requirement that religious free schools must keep at least half their places open to local children, regardless of the religion or beliefs of their parents, they will be sending a very damaging message: that an integrated society is not worth striving for, and that the will of the religious lobby trumps the best interests of our children and our country.

More than ever before, we have an obligation to ensure that the children within our increasingly diverse society learn to understand and respect those from backgrounds different to their own and who hold beliefs that are different to their own. Religious selection in schools – the process by which children as young as four are defined and divided by their parents religious beliefs – has been and continues to be a significant barrier to fostering that mutual understanding and respect.

We will wait to see what proposals are to be made, but if they are as reported, we will do everything we can to oppose them and ensure that the progress we have made towards a more inclusive education system is not so catastrophically set back.'


For further comment or information, contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Director of Public Affairs and Policy at pavan@humanism.org.uk or on 0773 843 5059.


The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethically 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.