Children of Merseyside non-believers excluded from fair secondary school selection
27 th March 2007
by Cath Bore
Liverpool Humanist Group has discovered that children whose parents have no religious faith are excluded from secondary school selection. This is despite all schools – whether faith schools, or not – being paid for by the tax payer – whether they have a religious belief or not.
While many churches are closing and attendance diminishing, the city’s schooling is dominated by religious organisations. The selection process is biased against those of no faith.
Liverpool parent and Liverpool Humanist Group member Peter McKenna finds he and other humanists are refused access to the majority of secondary schools in the city. Peter says, “With Church of England schools, places are first offered to non-Christian faiths before those of no religious faith. The Catholic schools have long lists, with children of no faith at the bottom if they are mentioned at all.”
In addition, Liverpool Humanist Group has also uncovered evidence that those of no faith are also discriminated against in regular community schools. Peter has seen prejudice in the ‘secular’ system as well. ”Children who are seen to require a single-sex school because it is a requirement of their religion are given priority over children living near the school, and even children with an older sibling at the school. It is every bit as important to me that my children are able to stay with siblings and local community, as any religious “requirement”; my secular values have been institutionally deemed to be of less value than religious one,” he reports.
Liverpool Humanist Group views the biased selection and admission process as a basic human rights issue and a glaring injustice. Those of no faith have no choice, are explicitly excluded from schools that all of society, whatever their beliefs, contribute towards financially.
Liverpool Humanist Group was established in October 2005.
‘Humanism is the belief that we can live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs. Humanists make sense of the world using reason, experience and shared human values. We seek to make the best of the one life we have by creating meaning and purpose for ourselves. We take responsibility for our actions and work with others for the common good.’ British Humanist Association 2003
“That so much . . . suffering can be directly attributed to religion – to religious hatreds, religious wars, religious taboos, and religious diversions of scarce resources – is what makes the honest criticism of religious faith a moral and intellectual necessity.”