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Understanding School Segregation in England – The Challenge, the education-data analysts School-Dash, and the Institute of Community Cohesion.

April 13, 2017

CHURCH and other faith schools are more likely to be segregated both by ethnicity and by poverty than non-faith schools, this study suggests.

Some 29 per cent of faith primary schools were ethnically segregated, compared with 26 per cent of non-faith schools. The picture for sec­ondaries was similar: 44 per cent of faith secondary schools were seg­regated by ethnicity, compared with 40 per cent of non-faith-schools.

The report’s definition of “segreg­ated” here means different from the surrounding neighbourhood. It compared all of England’s 20,000 state schools with the ten schools nearest to them. If a par­ticular school’s proportion of ethnic minority pupils or pupils entitled to free school meals was 15 per cent more or less than the average of the ten closest schools, it was deemed to be segregated. By this formula, faith schools were also found to be mar­ginally more segregated on socio­economic lines.

A director of The Challenge, Jon Yates, said: “We know that, when communities live separately, anxiety and prejudice flourish. . . We urge local authorities, faith schools, and academy chains to . . . put policies in place that encourage better school and community integration.”

While the gaps between segrega­tion in faith schools and non-faith schools described in the report were relatively small, they widen signific­antly when looking at the different types of faith school.

For instance, C of E primary schools have almost identical rates of both ethnic and socio-economic segregation compared with non-faith schools, whereas Roman Cath­olic primaries on average have significantly more segregation on both measures.

Similarly, C of E and RC sec­ondary schools have almost iden­tical levels of ethnic segregation (43 and 44 per cent respectively), and are not much more segregated than non-faith schools (40 per cent).

Non-Christian faith secondaries (a much smaller category with only 32 in total across England), how­ever, are vastly more ethnically segregated: more than 94 per cent are deemed to be less diverse than their neighbourhoods.

Recent government allows faith schools to be even more selective on religious grounds. This can only make matters worse and disadvantage more children.


there are clear links between the extent of segregation and the levels of cohesion and tolerance, due largely to the way in which diversity becomes familiar and is less likely to be seen as a threat – again, contact works but is constrained by segregation.

Local Government, faith authorities, academy chains, and individual schools should review practice, not only in relation to individual schools but also to consider the impact upon neighbouring schools, encouraging and supporting joint interventions wherever possible

All schools, especially those that do not represent the areas they serve or the country as a whole, should re-double their efforts to ensure that all young people learn about difference, in the context of British values, and have the opportunity to build intercultural competence and religious literacy.

The report is online here

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