Rosie Cooper, MP met with senior Government ministers last week to express the concerns of West Lancashire residents over the proposal to impose non-faith placements quote on faith schools. Conservative peer Lord Baker tabled an amendment to the Education and Inspections Bill that would force faith schools in the constituency to give 25% of places to children of other or no faith.
Rosie received a huge number of letters from West Lancashire constituents absolutely opposed to any proposal that would force local schools to give a quarter of the intake each year to children from other or no faith backgrounds.
“There has been a huge reaction within West Lancashire from families, churches and schools who were against this amendment put down by the Tory Lord Baker. I took those concerns to several senior Government Ministers to make them aware of just how strongly people felt about this proposal.”
“On this matter the Government is very clear. There will be no quota but it will be down to local communities to decide if they wish to allocate place to other and no faith pupils. Already Catholic Schools take about 30% of other or no faith pupils. This measure will only apply to new schools, not existing faith schools and it will not reduce the availability of faith places. Any requirement to provide non-faith places will be in addition to the demand for faith places.”
“Faith schools are not just about providing a faith-based education they have an important role to play in promoting and developing greater community cohesion and building towards a more integrated society as well.”
As the two major faith organisations now support the way forward the Government will not be seeking to use the legislative route and will not be now lay down an amendment to the Bill on this matter. A consensus has also been reached with all faith groups to place a new duty on all school governing bodies to promote community cohesion and additionally to ensure that OFSTED inspect all schools on this element of what they do.