A selection of key educational policies that could potentially impact faith schools
OFSTED: Ofsted inspection serves a valuable purpose
Continued support with a further £10m to increase the number of inspectors and trial no-notice inspections.
FAITH SCHOOLS: Parents can choose the schools that best suit their children
No change to current policies including continued to be supportive of faith-based education.
MORE SCHOOLS: We will continue to build more free schools.
The 50% faith cap would almost certainly remain in place for free schools though we would also expect the opportunity for another round of applications for voluntary aided faith schools.
OFSTED: We will replace Ofsted and transfer responsibility for inspections to a new body, designed to drive school improvement.
This would not remove inspections entirely and the intention would be to devolve responsibility for inspections to local authorities and this is likely to take time to implement.
FAITH SCHOOLS: All schools will be subject to a common rulebook, set out in legislation.
This has been left quite vague and we have serious concerns as to what changes are intended within this common rulebook and how this would impact schools in general and faith schools in particular.
PRIVATE SCHOOLS: We will close the tax loopholes enjoyed by elite private schools and use that money to improve the lives of all children, and we will ask the Social Justice Commission to advise on integrating private schools and creating a comprehensive education system
In addition to the above, to account for additional pupils in the state system resulting from the imposition of VAT on private school fees, we have used the IFS’ estimate in ‘The demand for private schooling in England: the impact of price and quality’ of -0.26 for the elasticity of demand for private schooling, giving a 5% decrease in private school pupils and an increase in state school places as a result
The estimated increase in students entering the state system suggest a 5% increase, which is based solely on the imposition of VAT on school fees. The impact of labours fiscal policies, which targets all those earning above £80k p.a., is likely to result in a greater movement of pupils. There are currently approximately 600,000 students in private schools, at an average cost of £5-6000 per student in state schools, a transfer of 10% would cost £300m - £360m p.a. In addition to this would be the capital cost of building additional capacity.
In addition to the other manifesto commitments including arts pupil premium, free school meals at primary school, maximum class sizes of 30, transferring academies into local authorities and other additional funding, there is a separate commitment to increase public service salaries by 5%. Assuming this includes staff in school, has sufficient funding been allocated within the manifesto?
A significant number of faith schools are independent, though may not be classed as elite, and whilst theoretically may benefit the most from integration in the state sector would struggle greatly with the proposed changes in the labour manifesto.
It is also unclear from the manifesto whether faith schools currently in the state system or those joining would be forced to implement a faith cap on admissions.
LIBERAL DEMOCRAT PARTY
OFSTED: Replace Ofsted with a new HM Inspector of Schools. Inspections should take place every 3 years and should consider a broader range of factors… Independent schools should be subject to the same inspection regime.
It is unclear what is intended by these policies, especially given that Ofsted has only just implemented a new inspection framework. Inspections every three schools could prove onerous for schools.
The current inspection framework for independent schools is already very closely aligned with state schools, and it is unclear what changes are intended.
Introduce a ‘curriculum for life’, in all state-funded schools…
The ‘curriculum for life’ proposed by the Liberal Democrats may impact on the current guidance for Sex and Relationship Education that has been widely consulted on and is being implemented for September 2020.
FAITH SCHOOLS: Require inclusive school uniform policies that are gender-neutral
This could seriously challenge faith schools, even those that are single sex.
…allowing local authorities to open new Community Schools where needed
It is unclear whether there will be any option for new faith schools to open and whether they would be forced to implement a faith cap on admissions. In the last coalition government this was a key condition in the coalition agreement and resulted in the 50% cap for all free schools.