The British Humanist Association has welcomed the new faith schools policies adopted by the Green Party of England and Wales at its Autumn Conference in Hove on Sunday.
Conference delegates approved a range of policies, which sought to remove religious privilege from the education system and introduce more inclusive education practices. The most significant policy adopted said that religious organisations should not be involved in the running of state funded schools, meaning an end to divisive and discriminatory faith schools.
In addition, the conference called for abolition of the legal requirement to hold daily acts of compulsory collective worship. It also supported proposals that both state and private schools should not be allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion or belief in either their admissions policies, or in staff recruitment and employment.
Consideration for religious beliefs was also made. The conference approved plans to ensure that children and young people could practice their faith in schools, for example by providing prayer space. While schools themselves were to be prohibited from delivering religious instruction or encouraging adherence to religious beliefs, religious instruction could still be arranged for a time outside of the teaching of the curriculum.
Andrew Copson, BHA Director of Education and Public Affairs, responding to the news said, ‘the Greens Party’s new faith schools policy represents a very positive step forward for those who care about a more inclusive state education system. The Green Party has recognised how inappropriate religious privilege in the education system is for a pluralistic and respectful society, and to their credit has put forward a range of alternative secular proposals, which still show consideration for religious belief’.