Faith schools are dominating Britain’s league tables for primary schools, with six in ten of every ‘perfect’ scoring school being a faith school of some denomination. The Church of England has said that it is “delighted” that its schools, some of which have a high number of disadvantaged pupils, are leading the way in demonstrating excellence. But critics have reacted furiously.
693 schools across the UK achieved a perfect score according to the newly revealed primary league tables, meaning that they brought all children up to the expected standard in reading, writing and maths. Of those schools, 427, or 62 percent, were faith schools, up from 60 percent last year.
Nearly half the schools – 330 – are run by the Church of England, whilst 88 are Catholic. There were also four Jewish schools and one Sikh who achieved a perfect rating, according to the Daily Mail.
The Rev Nigel Genders, the Church of England’s chief education officer, commented on the newly published results, saying: “I’m delighted that Church of England primary schools are leading some of the outstanding practice going on in schools across the country, and congratulate the pupils, teachers, support staff, parents and communities who have worked together to secure success.
“We are working hard to ensure that the excellent practice in these high-performing schools is shared across our network and beyond, so that all schools can achieve the best for their pupils.
“I am particularly pleased that our highest performing school, Hampden Gurney Church of England Primary School, has secured fantastic outcomes with a significant number of disadvantaged pupils in Year Six – demonstrating once again that a child’s success should never be limited by their background.”
However, not everyone was so pleased with the outcome. Only one third of primary schools in the UK are faith schools. Consequently, their dominance of the league tables has caused critics, such as campaign group the Accord Coalition to charge them with being “grammar schools by another name”, by “selecting the elite”.
The Accord Coalition campaigns for faith schools to be banned from prioritising children from faith families in their selection process, which they claim is a form of social selection. They also claim that it attracts middle class families to schools.
Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, chair of the Accord Coalition said: “The strong exam performances at faith schools remains entirely predictable given the large body of research showing that it is explained by the different social and ability profile of pupils admitted.
“If society is going to offer social privilege, then let it do so in a manner that is upfront and which does not taint religion or faith based schools. If people want selection, then be honest and call for grammar schools – but do not use religion as a mask for it.”
According to the Church of England, nearly one million pupils are educated in Church of England schools, at both junior and senior level. One in four primary schools are Church of England schools. They also cite polling showing that 72 percent of the population agree that Church of England schools help young people to grow into responsible members of society, and 80 percent agree that they promote good behaviour and positive attitudes.