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Education: Standards

Volume 487: debated on Monday 9 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the effects of the implementation of the recommendation in the Faith in the System report on education as a whole; and what costs to his Department arose in the production and distribution of the report. (253696)

“Faith in the System: the role of schools with a religious character in English education and society” was launched on 10 September 2007 and outlined the Government's and faith schools providers' shared vision on the role of faith schools in the English education system and wider society. The document does not represent a set of new policy initiatives but aims to dispel some of the common myths and misunderstanding around faiths schools. In it, the Government and faith leaders of all faiths that have publicly funded schools in England reaffirmed their commitment to continue to work together and with all schools to improve the life chances of children, to build bridges to greater mutual trust and understanding, and contribute to a just and cohesive society, while nurturing children in their faith and as engaged citizens. We know that the principles of “Faith in the System” are embedded in faith schools and that they are committed to working with other schools and to meeting the needs of all pupils, whether they are of the faith or not.

For example, the Board of Deputies of British Jews have developed the “Shared Futures” linking project, which aims to link minority faith schools and schools without a religious character where the significant majority of pupils are of a single faith. The Church of England (CofE) is now committed to reserving 25 per cent. of school places at new CofE schools for pupils from the local neighbourhood regardless of faith background or none; and last year, the Catholic Education Service (CES) launched new preliminary guidance for all Catholic schools in England on the statutory duty to promote community cohesion.

The faith groups are now working together to take forward “Faith in the System”, with the CES taking the lead in organising a follow-up conference, which is due to be held in autumn this year.

The costs of printing the “Faith in the System” document were £5,208 (£6,119 including VAT). No other substantial additional costs have arisen in relation to this resource as staff time in facilitating the working groups and drafting the document does not represent an additional cost.