More than 200 Redbridge pupils offered faith schools against top preference

A stock image of students in a classroom. Picture: PA/Ben Birchall

Almost 30 children in Redbridge will go to faith secondary schools this year which their families had not chosen as an option at all - Credit: PA

More than 200 secondary school pupils in Redbridge have been assigned to faith schools against their parents’ top preferences this year, according to figures.

Research by the National Secular Society (NSS) found that 235 children in the borough will go to faith schools, despite their parents having listed a non-faith option as their top preference. 

This represents more than six per cent of total applicants for secondary school places in Redbridge – the eighth highest in England. 

The figure includes 206 pupils whose parents listed a faith school as a lower priority preference, while 29 children will go to faith schools which their families had not chosen as an option at all. 

NSS head of education Alastair Lichten said: “It shouldn’t be acceptable for families’ right to freedom of religion and belief to be undermined when they simply want their children to go to community schools which educate children from all faiths.” 

A Redbridge Council spokesperson said that 2,555 children were offered a place at their first-choice secondary school in Redbridge for this September.

For the fourth year running, they said Redbridge was above the London average of 86.88 per cent of children being offered a place at one of their family’s top three choices.

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The spokesperson added: “Families are able to specify up to six preferred schools, with many choosing to select faith schools as one or more of their preferences.

"Faith schools have admission arrangements that allow entry for children who are not of faith, and many non-faith families choose to send their child to a faith school for a number of reasons apart from its religious character, including standards of education and proximity within their local community.

“When it is not possible to offer a place at any listed preference school, an alternative offer is made for the nearest school to the home address with a vacancy which can sometimes be a faith school.

"However, we will always work with families to identify a different school within a reasonable travelling distance, if they object to their initial offer on the grounds of faith. “

The statistics were released as part of a national research project by the NSS, which found that 20,000 pupils across the country had been assigned to faith schools against their families’ top preferences.