Segregating school students deepens social division

New research published today (22nd March) shows that “Faith” schools in England are more social divided on ethnicity than schools with “no-faith”

The report, entitled Understanding School Segregation in England: 2011 to 2016, has been published by respected social integration charity The Challenge, Institute of Community Cohesion Foundation and education data analytics company, SchoolDash.

The reports research uncovered that in addition to ethnic division, faith schools catered for less free-school meal students than their non-faith counterparts.

Commenting on the research findings, Gordon MacRae Chief Executive of Humanist Society Scotland said:

HSS Chief Executive Gordon MacRae

HSS Chief Executive Gordon MacRae

“This report adds to the growing body of evidence that basing any of the state school system on belief is hindering to efforts of social cohesion and reducing the attainment gap.

“These findings should be a lesson to Scotland that a new generation of Faith Schools has the potential to undermine attempts to close the attainment gap. The Scottish Government should think very carefully before introducing any new divisions in Scotland’s education system.

“If Scotland is serious about reducing inequality and giving the best chance to each and every child then ensuring balanced, rational and non-discriminatory education is key.”




1. The Humanist Society Scotland exists to support people to live an ethical life along Humanist values of empathy, and rationalism. We campaign for an ethical, rational and secular Scotland. HSS has over 14,000 members and carries out 3,000 Humanist Funerals and the weddings of 3,200 Humanist members.

2. The full report can be read online (embargoed for Wednesday 22 March):

  • ‘Faith schools at primary are more ethnically segregated than schools of no faith (28.8% of faith schools compared with 24.5% of those of no faith) when compared with neighbouring schools. This is particularly pronounced for Roman Catholic schools’.
  • ‘At primary level, faith schools are more likely to cater to more advantaged students, with 4.4% of faith schools having a high FSM intake compared with nearby schools, versus 11.4% for non-faith. This is particularly pronounced for Roman Catholic schools (of which 38.3% have a low FSM intake, versus 17.1% of non-faith)… The relationship at secondary level is similar but not as strong, with 23.8% of Catholic schools having a low FSM intake, compared with 17.2% of non-faith schools.’

3. There are currently moves to consider the establishment of a new faith school in Glasgow in addition to the current state funded denominational schools

4. Humanist Society Scotland has been running the campaign to remove religious discrimination from state schooling in Scotland through the Enlighten Up! campaign. See for more information.

4. For interviews and queries contact HSS Campaigns and Communications Manager Fraser Sutherland on 07477 692109 or


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