‘Shortage’ of non faith schools in Wigan
More than eight in 10 Wigan families find it hard to access local non-religious primary schools for their children.
The National Secular Society found 81.4 per cent of borough families live in areas with “high” (59.5 per cent) or “extreme” (21.9 per cent) restrictions on their ability to access non-faith schooling at primary level.
It said Wigan’s figures were the third “worst” for any area in the country, behind Westminster and the City of London.
The figures reveal that more than two-thirds of state-funded Wigan primaries are faith schools and that this year, 95 Wigan children were assigned to faith primaries despite family expressions of a preference for non-faith schools.
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 and none together. Policymakers should take steps to ensure every pupil’s ability to access a secular education and confront the narrative that parental choice justifies the segregation, discrimination and promotion of religion inherent in England’s schools.”
Cath Pealing, Wigan Council assistant education director, said: “We do have a large number of faith schools in the borough, particularly primary. That being said over the last three years, an average of 93 per cent of families have been allocated their first preference primary school and 91 per cent of families have been allocated their first preference secondary school.
“Furthermore, since 2019 more than 95 per cent of all families had one of their three preferences met across primary and secondary schools.
“We appreciate that not all families will get their preferred school and we understand how frustrating and upsetting this can be. However, we must follow the School Admission Code set by government for allocating school places to ensure the process is consistent and fair to all.”
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