Faith schools are a viable option for students starting their primary or secondary education. The choice of a faith school allows parents with religious beliefs to ensure their children are taught in a place that shares the same values of that religion. You might be wondering how many faith there actually are in the UK, or what percentage of schools they make up. If this is you, read this article to find out the answers to these questions and many more.
A third of schools in the UK are faith schools. Faith schools, in 2019, made up around 34% of all state-funded mainstream schools, but the majority are primary schools. There were 6,179 primary faith schools and 623 secondary faith schools. There has been a gradual increase in the proportion of state funded state schools over the past two decades. These statistics were taken from gov.uk.
While this may have given you a surface level answer, you should keep reading to find out more information about faith schools, where you can find them, their popularity, and their pros and cons.
How can you find a faith school?
There are two main providers of faith schools: the Church of England and the Catholic Education service. There are also a few Sikh, Muslim, and Jewish schools, but a significantly lower number than Christian schools.
Gov.uk has a school comparison service on its website. It allows users to enter their town or postcode and will provide a list of schools within a specified distance of that location. Users can see important information such as the school’s Ofsted rating. Users can also filter schools by their religious character. To use this service to find schools of a particular faith, click here.
What are faith schools?
Faith schools are no different to non-religious schools when it comes to general education and qualifications taken. Faith schools still have to follow the national curriculum, but they are allowed to choose what they teach within religious studies lessons. Moreover, they may have specific religious practices within the school day, such as prayers, bible readings, and visits to a church (but this will differ from school to school).
Regarding admissions, faith schools are permitted to give higher priority to students who are members of the school’s religion, but only when a school is oversubscribed. This is often the case as many faith schools in the UK are renowned for their achievement of good results, and therefore are heavily oversubscribed.
To find out more about faith schools, read this Think Student article.
How do students get into a faith school?
It is possible to get into a faith school without being a member of its particular religion. When they’re oversubscribed, meaning that they have more applicants than places open, Faith school’s (except those voluntarily aided) must allocate at least 50% of places without reference to faith.
As well as requiring parents to apply for a child’s place through the local authority admissions system, faith schools will often require parents to apply directly to the school using a Supplementary Information Form. This would be provided by the school itself, for example it might be available to obtain from the school office. Faith schools may want specific proof of being a member of the religion, such as a Baptism certificate or meeting criteria about attending a place of worship.
What is the purpose of a faith school?
Faith schools teach the national curriculum, but they will often do so with a bias supporting the views of their religion. Parents of a particular religion may consider it very important that their children develop a strong understanding and love for their religion, so a school that promotes this would be an ideal choice.
A lot of faith schools also teach key skills needed for a future in that religion. Jewish schools often teach Hebrew reading so that children can successfully read some religious texts and partake in religious celebrations when they’re older. Faith schools also celebrate religious holidays from their faith’s calendar, which helps to develop a sense of community and belonging.
How popular are faith schools?
Faith schools are sometimes preferred by parents over non-faith schools because of the strong morals they promote. Another reason parents might pick a faith school is because they often perform better than non-faith schools.
On average, the GCSE results are better at faith secondary schools. In 2018, the average proportion of faith pupils achieving grades 9-5 in English and Maths GCSE was 48% compared to 44% at non-faith schools. To find out more about the GCSE results of faith schools, read this House of Commons Library paper about faith schools.
However, according to NSS, 60% of parents say that they would be unlikely to send their child to a faith school. In general, most parents place more importance on the academic standards of the school, rather than the school’s ability to teach religion. According to YouGov survey results, 70% said they would choose a school on the basis of its academic standards, whereas only 5% said they would choose on the basis of giving a “grounding in faith tradition”.
What are the different types of schools?
Firstly, there’s the choice of attending a state school or a private school. All children between ages 5 and 16 are entitled to a free place at a state school. State schools get their funding through either their local authority or directly from the government.
If parents want their child to be educated at a private school, they will have to pay for a place, and this amount will vary depending on what school and whether it’s a boarding school. If parents can afford to educate their child at a private school, then they might choose to because of better facilities offered by the school, exam results, or smaller class sizes.
Check out this Think Student article to learn how expensive private schools are.
What are the different types of state schools in the UK?
There are a few different options parents have when sending their child to school. The most common types of state school are voluntary schools, academies, community schools’ grammar schools, and specialised schools.
Voluntary schools – These are funded by the local authority, but they have more freedom than community schools to change the way that they do things. Voluntary schools are sometimes supported by representatives from religious groups.
Academies – These are run by non-for-profit academy trusts and are independent from the local authority. Therefore, they have more freedom and can follow a different curriculum.
Community schools – These are sometimes called local authority-maintained schools, are not influenced by religious groups, and must follow the national curriculum.
Grammars schools – These are either run by an academy trust, a foundation body or by the local authority. Grammar schools select all of their pupils based on their academic ability, through the taking of a test referred to as the 11 Plus. For more information on the 11 Plus check out this Think Student article. To find out more about applying to secondary schools in general, click here for an in-depth guide by Think Student.
Specialised schools – These can be orientated towards emotional and mental health, sensory and physical needs, cognition and learning, or communication and interaction. Specialised schools can help people with Autistic spectrum disorders, visual impairment, or communication needs.
When deciding which school would be the best fit for you or your child, make sure to consider what your priorities are and what you value most in a school. Think about the location, the diversity, the attitudes of the students, and their support services available, not just the reputation of the school.