A new report from the Sutton Trust suggests that Christian state secondary schools in England are more socially selective than their secular counterparts.
Entitled Worlds Apart: Social Variation among Schools, it has been prepared by Alan Smithers and Pamela Robinson of the Centre for Education and Employment Research, University of Buckingham.
It will be found at: http://www.suttontrust.com/reports/Worlds_apart.pdf
The researchers have used a new indicator developed by the Department of Communities and Local Government. This is the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI), which plots the proportion of children in defined areas who are in families in receipt of income support.
These IDACI data have enabled them to calculate a Social Selectivity Index for each maintained secondary school. A high score indicates that a school takes fewer pupils from income deprived homes than would be expected from the locality, a low score that it takes an above average number.
For the large category of 2,679 comprehensive schools, the mean social selectivity score was 497.0. However, for 140 Church of England schools it was 520.1, for 308 Roman Catholic schools 507.2 and for 22 other Christian schools 515.9. The 14 non-Christian schools scored 482.3 and 2,195 non-faith schools 494.1.
The results of this survey could well restoke the fires of debate about faith schools in this country, especially as regards their perceived social divisiveness.
The Sutton Trust was founded in 1997 by Sir Peter Lampl with the aim of promoting social mobility through education. It is particularly concerned with breaking the link between educational opportunities and family background.
Those seeking to learn more about faith schools more generally might like to read Elizabeth Green, Mapping the Field: A Review of the Current Research Evidence on the Impact of Schools with a Christian Ethos (London: Theos, 2009, ISBN 978 0 9562182 0 9, £10).