Election Briefing: Education

A range of experts from across the education and faith spectrum joined this Religion Media Centre election briefing, reviewing the various parties’ manifestos on education. It’s a topic not regarded as a key election priority issue by voters, who instead tend to focus on the economy, the NHS and immigration.

But religion is long associated with education in Britain, with a third of all schools having a faith foundation. Concerns were expressed on a shortage of teachers, contraction of arts subjects at universities which affects departments of Theology and Religious Studies, and the continuing campaign to remove a 50 per cent cap on faith school admissions, a move frozen in parliament because the election was called.

The proposed 20 per cent VAT hike on private school fees is causing real anxiety among independent schools, especially the smaller ones affiliated with minority British religions with lower fees, less affluent parents and determination to choose a faith school for their child. The briefing heard an appeal for any future Labour government to provide extra capacity in the state system before bringing in the tax change. Speakers included:

  • Rev Steve Chalke, founder of Oasis Trust
  • Rudi Eliott Lockhart, Chief Executive Officer at the Independent Schools Association
  • Raisel Freedman, assistant director of the Partnership for Jewish Schools
  • Prof John Lydon and Dr Caroline Heely from the Catholic Union
  • Ashfaque Chowdhury, chair Association of Muslim Schools
  • Dr Lois Lee and Dr Tim Hutchings, on university funding and the study of religion
  • Deborah Weston, from NATRE, on RE in schools
  • Paul Bickley, head of political engagement at Theos think tank

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Labour’s VAT plans ‘will hit religious schools harder that most’

A third of all UK schools have a faith foundation and they share concerns over funding and teacher shortages, as well as the proposed VAT hike on fees, the cap on admissions and threats to the study of religion at universities

Read our report here >>

Full Briefing Video

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