Thursday, October 01, 2015

Unholy Statistics: British Humanist Society and Schools

The British Humanist Association has published a report on faith schools, 'Unholy Mess', claiming that As many as hundreds of thousands of children have been unlawfully denied access to religiously selective state schools in England

That's a big claim, there are 4700 Church of England state schools alone, with over 1 million children attending them. According to the BHA "almost all of (them) are failing to comply" with the official Schools Admission Code. 

Ok, just imagine this. A village of 4700 people. 70 people are interviewed. Some of them don't even live in the village, but are from a similar village down the road. If 43 of them had a significant weight problem, would you deduce that 'almost all' of the people in the village are fat?

Church of England schools were only 1/3 of the schools in the 43, yet the results are extrapolated to every CofE school, primary and secondary.  There are clearly some practices which need sorting out, but it looks very much as though the evidence has been interpreted to fit the BHAs agenda. 

The BHA's solution is not to recommend that the schools get in line with standard admissions criteria, but that they be scrapped completely. As a VW owner, I'm just glad they're not in the used car market, or they'd be calling for 1.2m German motors to be melted down tomorrow.

Update: a couple of responses
 Reverend Nigel Genders, the Church of England’s chief education officer, said: “We would strongly refute any suggestion that our schools have a near universal noncompliance with the code. The OSA annual report tells a very different story to this over-exaggerated report, which equates small administrative errors or minuscule technicalities with major systemic failure. If schools were able to focus more time on getting on running their schools, rather than responding to these sorts of campaigns, children would be better served.

“The majority of Church of England schools do not prioritise their places on the basis of church attendance, and most of those that do still make places available for children in the school’s immediate community. Our secondary schools have an average of 10 per cent selection by religious criteria – this is based on church attendance only. We also have as many pupils on free school meals as the national average, some much higher."
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "We want every child to have access to the best education possible, and where there is evidence a school does not have fair and transparent admissions arrangements, swift action will be taken.
"We will consider the findings of BHA's report carefully. All of the objections they have listed have now been resolved."
i.e. all the issues can be sorted within the current system, rather than by scrapping it.  

No comments:

Post a Comment