Education and Faith Schools
Education is one of the NSS’s prime concerns and it continues to campaign against public funding of faith schools. It holds that morality, ethics and citizenship should be taught outside a religious framework. It also opposes the teaching of creationism, or Intelligent Design as an alternative to mainstream science, not that it is taught in UK schools. It also opposes the appointment of teachers and support staff according to religious criteria, as part of a more general campaign against exemptions from anti-discrimination legislation for religious bodies. The Society has successfully campaigned for the legal right of older pupils to opt themselves out of religious assemblies at school.
The Society also argues that children of families of no-faith and “the wrong faith” are being increasingly discriminated against in admission procedures because of the high number of religious schools. Together with City Technology Colleges (which also have admissions privileges), the Society would like to see these schools become community schools, although it accepts the need for a transition period to achieve this goal. The NSS has drawn attention to recent statistical research supporting its claims of discrimination in faith schools based on selection of pupils from wealthier families. Specifically, religious schools take in 10% fewer poor pupils than are representative of the local area. However, both representatives from the Church of England and a separate Parent Association denied the existence or evidence of selection to their own schools being based on social background and a spokesman for the Centre of Economics has indicated that the bias in social background may stem from those more likely to apply to a religious school, not the selection process. The National Secular Society has also argued that faith schools exacerbate religious, ethnic and cultural divisions by separating children from those of other faiths and cultural backgrounds. In 2010 the NSS instigated a Judicial Review to test the legality of prayers being part of the official business of Council meetings as it believes politics and religion should be kept separate.
Read more about this topic: National Secular Society
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