Surrey County Council have today written to the British Humanist Association (BHA) to inform them that they are dropping plans for a junior Community school to adopt an admissions policy giving priority to pupils from a religiously selective infant school. The BHA had written to the Council, asking the Council for its justification for the proposals, amid concern that they possibly might have been unlawful.
Reigate Priory School currently admits pupils based on distance, but Surrey Council proposed to give priority to pupils from Holmesdale Infant Community School and Reigate Parish Church School, two of the three infant schools in Reigate (the third being Dovers Green School). Reigate Parish is a voluntary aided school which religiously selects half of its pupils on the basis of faith. As a result, a pupil with non-Christian parents may live closer to Reigate Parish and Reigate Priory and further away from Dovers Green than a pupil with Christian parents, and yet the former pupil could get in to Reigate Parish while the latter pupil could not. Consequentially, the pupil with Christian parents would get into Reigate Priory, while the latter pupil might not.
The BHA wrote to the Council to ask it to justify its proposals, and why it did not think they constituted indirect discrimination under the Equality Act. Today the Council wrote back to the BHA to say that it was now decided to defer any changes until next year, so that ‘alternative solutions’ could be explored.
BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘We’re glad that in this case the Council have listened to the concerns of parents, the BHA and the Accord Coalition, who also highlighted issues with the plans. We hope alternative proposals are brought forth next year.’
Similar, more serious proposals in Solihull are still being consulted on, with the BHA supporting a strong local campaign in opposition. A petition has now been signed by over 800 people.
For further comment or information, please contact BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson on 0781 55 89 636 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read local coverage on the proposals from 9 February: http://www.thisissurreytoday.co.uk/Reigate-junior-school-admission-criteria/story-18077563-detail/story.html#axzz2KmDTFpWD
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.