Faith in schools

  • Faith schools in England show distinctive geographical distributions. For example, Church of England (C of E) schools are often located in rural areas around large conurbations, while Catholic schools are most prevalent in the North West. These patterns are especially clear for primary schools.
  • Since at least 2011, primary pupil numbers at C of E and Catholic schools have been growing at slower rates than the overall increase in primary school enrolment. Those at non-faith schools and non-Christian faith schools have increased at higher rates. Pupils at non-Christian faith state schools nearly doubled between 2011 and 2018, though they still account for only 0.5% of all state primary school pupils.
  • Among secondary pupils, too, enrolment at Catholic schools showed a relative decline. Pupil numbers at non-faith schools have been broadly flat while those at C of E schools have increased slightly. Once again, enrolment at non-Christian faith schools showed rapid growth, especially in the state sector, where pupil numbers doubled between 2011 and 2018, though they still represent only 0.6% of all state secondary school pupils.
  • Faith schools tend to show better academic results at both primary and secondary phases, but these effects vary by faith type and seem to be mainly a result of differences in intake rather than anything that goes on inside the schools themselves.
  • Many types of faith school show higher levels of segregation than non-faith schools, not only with respect to ethnicity but also deprivation.

Maps 1 and 2: Proportions of primary schools that are faith schools (2018)
Maps 3 and 4: Proportions of primary schools that are Church of England / Roman Catholic schools (2018)
Maps 5 and 6: Proportions of secondary schools that are faith schools (2018)
Maps 7 and 8: Proportions of secondary schools that are Church of England / Roman Catholic schools (2018)
Figure 1: Number of primary schools by faith type
Note: Includes mainstream schools in England only (special schools and alternative provision are excluded, as are schools in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). All-through schools are included in both primary and secondary results, but make up small proportions of all schools.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 2: Number of primary school pupils by school faith type
Note: Includes mainstream schools in England only (special schools and alternative provision are excluded, as are schools in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). All-through schools are included in both primary and secondary results, but make up small proportions of all pupils.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 3: Number of secondary schools by faith type
Note: Includes mainstream schools in England only (special schools and alternative provision are excluded, as are schools in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). All-through schools are included in both primary and secondary results, but make up small proportions of all schools.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 4: Number of secondary school pupils by school faith type
Note: Includes mainstream schools in England only (special schools and alternative provision are excluded, as are schools in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). All-through schools are included in both primary and secondary results, but make up small proportions of all pupils.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 5: Primary school performance by faith school type (2017)
Sample sizes: Non-faith schools: 9,038. C of E schools: 3,781. Catholic schools: 1,597. Other Christian schools: 93. Other faith schools: 44.
Note: Includes mainstream state schools in England only; attainment data for independent schools are not available.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 6: Secondary school attainment by faith school type (2018)
Sample sizes: Non-faith schools: 2,566. C of E schools: 180. Catholic schools: 310. Other Christian schools: 60. Other faith schools: 28.
Note: Includes mainstream state schools in England only; attainment data for independent schools are not available.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 7: Secondary school progress by faith school type (2018)
Sample sizes: Non-faith schools: 2,566. C of E schools: 180. Catholic schools: 310. Other Christian schools: 60. Other faith schools: 28.
Note: Includes mainstream state schools in England only; attainment data for independent schools are not available.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 8: Imbalance in proportions of FSM pupils by religious denomination (2018)
Sample sizes: Primary schools – No faith: 10,787. C of E: 4,424. Catholic: 1,655. Other Christian: 108. Other faith: 65.
Secondary schools – No faith: 2,744. Any faith: 637. C of E: 210. Catholic: 312. Other Christian: 64. Other faith: 36.
Note: Includes mainstream state schools in England only; socio-economic data for independent schools are not available.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 9: Socio-economic balance of schools by religious denomination (2018)
Sample sizes: Primary schools – No faith: 10,787. C of E: 4,424. Catholic: 1,655. Other Christian: 108. Other faith: 65.
Secondary schools – No faith: 2,744. C of E: 210. Catholic: 312. Other Christian: 64. Other faith: 36.
Note: Includes mainstream state schools in England only; socio-economic data for independent schools are not available.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 10: Imbalance in proportions of White British pupils by religious denomination (2018)
Sample sizes: Primary schools – No faith: 10,781. C of E: 4,421. Catholic: 1,655. Other Christian: 108. Other faith: 65.
Secondary schools – No faith: 2,746. Any faith: 637. C of E: 210. Catholic: 312. Other Christian: 64. Other faith: 36.
Note: Includes mainstream state schools in England only; ethnic data for independent schools are not available.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 11: Ethnic balance of schools by religious denomination (2018)
Sample sizes: Primary schools – No faith: 10,781. C of E: 4,421. Catholic: 1,655. Other Christian: 108. Other faith: 65.
Secondary schools – No faith: 2,746. C of E: 210. Catholic: 312. Other Christian: 64. Other faith: 36.
Note: Includes mainstream state schools in England only; ethnicity data for independent schools are not available.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
  1. Overlooking for a moment that England is technically a Christian state with an established church.
  2. Non-Christian faith schools consist mostly of Jewish and Muslim schools, though with some Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist schools too.
  3. From 2012 to 2018, the DfE data usually show somewhere between half a dozen and a dozen schools changing faith status each year (in addition to any newly established schools). But in 2015, almost 600 schools, most of them independent, changed faith status. At least some of these changes seem to have been in error. Among those now listed as having no religious affiliation are the Yesodey Hatorah School, the Darul Uloom Islamic High School and Bury Catholic Preparatory School. Where these are obvious errors – which usually means that the reported faith status of a school is contradicted by its name – we have corrected this information. For non-Christian faith schools, which are small in number and usually have a very obvious religious affiliation, we are confident that the data are now accurate. For the much larger number of independent schools that had a Christian status but have been designated as non-faith schools since 2015, it is much harder to know which designation is correct because any religious affiliation is usually much less overt. For these schools, we consider the 2011-14 data to be inconsistent with the 2015-18 (hence the step changes seen in the Figures 1-4), but cannot say with any confidence, which, if either, is more correct. We have enquired about this to the DfE and will post any updates here.
  4. The data presented use the same measure as in our 2017 analysis of general segregation patterns in England's state education system. In short, the pupil composition of each school is compared with that of the 10 nearest schools, both in terms of the proportion of pupils who are eligible for free school meals (socio-economic) and the proportion of white British pupils (ethnic). Schools at which these differences are more than 15 percentage points or more than twofold are deemed to have unusually high or low proportions of the corresponding pupil group. Allowances are made where these differences correspond to very small pupil numbers. Further details are provided in our previous analysis. Note that any imbalances are not necessarily caused by the schools themselves – they can reflect situations such as local residential segregation over which the school has no control.
  5. It may be surprising to see so many non-Christian faith schools with an unusually high proportion of White British pupils. This is because many Jewish communities self-identify as white British.

Question MARK: Analysis of an important new data set in primary education

 

Past posts

 | Copyright © 2018 |