Written Answer (16/1/03) on faith schools
Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State
for Education and Skills what mechanisms have been set up to ensure that
schools set up by private companies and faith organisations (a) do not
select their pupils, (b) follow the national curriculum, (c) teach science,
including Darwin's theory of evolution and (d) protect the human rights
of female students.
Miliband: The information is as follows:
All new maintained schools are prohibited from selecting pupils by high
academic ability by the School Standards and Framework Act (SSFA) 1998.
The SSFA permits fair banding whereby schools select a proportion of pupils
from each part of the full range of abilities. Academies and City Technology
Colleges (CTCs) are prohibited from selecting by high academic ability
by virtue of their funding agreements. Schools with a specialism in a
prescribed subject are allowed to select up to 10 per cent. of pupils
by aptitude in that subject. Schools with a religious character are allowed
in their admission criteria to give preference to adherents of their faith
All maintained schools, including those set up by faith organisations,
are required to teach the National Curriculum. Academies are required
through their funding agreements broadly to follow the National Curriculum
and the national system of assessing it. CTCs are required to provide
a broad and balanced curriculum with an emphasis on science and technology,
and to teach the core and other foundation subjects of the National Curriculum.
They are not required to follow the National Curriculum programmes of
study, although most do so.
The National Curriculum requires all pupils to study the Science Curriculum
at key stages 1, 2, 3 and 4 (ages 5–16). At key stage 4 pupils study the
fossil record as evidence for evolution and how variation and selection
may lead to evolution or extinction. Schools do teach how scientific controversies
can arise from the interpretation of empirical evidence and this is likely
to include Darwin's theory of evolution. Pupils are encouraged to explore
different views, theories and beliefs. The origins of the universe are
also addressed in the teaching of religious education at key stage 3 (ages
The human rights of female students are protected by legislation. All
maintained schools, including those set up by faith organisations, must
comply with the Race Relations and Sex Discrimination Acts, and with the
Human Rights Act. The Human Rights Act provides a right to education without
discrimination on any grounds, including sex and religion. Its application
extends to female pupils in Academies and CTCs.