Here is a press release from the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign against the addition of this policy. The approved policy follows.
St Stephen’s Primary school in St Margarets has decided to introduce “Foundation Places” which will give preference to children of worshippers at local churches, with St Stephen’s church top of the list.
The school’s governors decided unanimously to go ahead with the change at their meeting on 21st March, despite objections from Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign (RISC) among others. Councillor Scott Naylor is the Council representative on the governing body.
In their objection, RISC pointed out that, until 2011/12, most children at St Stephen’s Junior school had come from nearby Orleans Infants, a community school with no faith-based selection. Now both schools are all-through primary schools, and one of them is setting aside places for churchgoers.
RISC welcomed some other changes to the admissions arrangements. But they expressed concern that, with parents already anxious about finding school places, the increased prominence of faith-based selection means that some parents will feel obliged to attend church to have an equal chance of getting their children into their local state primary school.
A RISC spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that an opportunity is being missed to eliminate faith-based selection at St Stephen’s altogether. We believe it’s unfair for a state-funded school to discriminate against local children because their parents are not practicing Christians.”
– from a Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign press release 26 March 2013