STOP RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION AGAINST LITTLE PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN

by Dr Sara Thompson

STOP RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION AGAINST LITTLE PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN

by Dr Sara Thompson
Dr Sara Thompson
Case Owner
I am the mother of three primary school children who are being discriminated against on the basis of faith (or the faith of the school they attend).
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Dr Sara Thompson
Case Owner
I am the mother of three primary school children who are being discriminated against on the basis of faith (or the faith of the school they attend).
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Latest: Feb. 28, 2022

Nearly 100 pages of arguments...

Submitted! AGAIN! 

Another exhausting week as I submitted last Friday my 25-page final comments to further letters from the School Adjudicators regarding my Referrals lodged last November.

It is a…

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Who am I?   

I am a university lecturer fighting against discrimination on the basis of faith affecting primary children applying for secondary school.   

I am doing this so that my children - and all the children in our primary school - have the same chances as all other primary school children in the area.  

Summary 

All little children in our area have the choice to attend one of three local Secondary School Academies.

Except our children. 

And the only reason why our school is not listed as a feeder to these secondary schools is because it is Catholic.

The Catholic Diocese objects to our primary Catholic school being listed as a feeder at these secondary schools.

This means that our children are effectively being discriminated against on the basis of faith (or the faith of the school they attend).

Our children are at disadvantage in relation to other children in the area. 

Parental choice has simply been removed.

This is profoundly against core British values such as tolerance, fairness and choice.

Some parents were not aware of this - and the information to make an informed decision was not provided and not available - at the time they applied to secure a reception place at our school. 

Even if this information was available at the time of application, this would not address the issue of choice. The point remains that our Catholic primary school only offers (one) choice of a feeder school: a not-so-local Catholic secondary school as a feeder.

This one Catholic secondary school just does not work for 100% of the families for all sorts of reasons, from safeguarding issues to logistics. 

We need choice. One choice is simply no choice.

It is also impossible to see how a decision made when a child is 3 or 4 should dictate that the child only has one path in life to adulthood. 

A parental decision about primary education should not determine or restrict secondary education in such a way that children only have one education pathway in life (a Catholic pathway).

What action am I taking? 

With legal assistance from Doyle Clayton, I am lodging an Objection/Referral at the Office of School Adjudicator against the Admission Arrangements of all 3 local Secondary Schools. After that, I might have to issue a claim for a Judicial Review based on illegality, according to the 2010 Equality Act.

But this costs money.

LOTS of money. 

After spending several hundred pounds and several dozen hours over the last three years on fighting against such religious discrimination, I can no longer foot the bill alone and so I come to ask for your support on what seems to be the last lap of the marathon. 

How much money do I need?

I am setting the target at 2000, but the case will probably cost over 7000.

Please donate as much or as little as you can. Every little helps. 

Funds raised go straight into our lawyer's account.

Please do forward to anyone and everyone. 

We will need all the support we can get. 


What am I trying to achieve? 

I am doing this so that my children - and all the children in our primary school - have the same chances as all other primary school children in the area.  

I am doing this so that children up and down the country benefit from this decision, which could be used as a precedent.

I am doing this so that British principles of tolerance, fairness and choice are upheld.

I am doing this because many parents were unaware they were being implicitly tied into a rigid contract with the Catholic System of Education, whereby they were entering some sort of “contract of Catholic faith education” that, effectively, means that Catholic primary school parents “forgo” their choice of non-Catholic secondary schools. This was not an informed decision for a substantial number of parents and there is no exit strategy from this "implicit" contract.

What does the Doyle Clayton lawyer say?

“This could be a leading case, prompting admissions authorities to be alert to their duties to act in accordance with the Equality Act 2010, and removing unwanted religious interference in the admissions process for secondary schools.

 Academies administer their own admissions arrangements outside of the remit of the local authority. The role of the Office of the Schools Adjudicator includes overseeing these arrangements as well as ruling on objections and referrals to these arrangements. The OSA must perform its functions lawfully and in accordance with Equality Act 2010.

 Children attending this Catholic primary school in the Midlands will benefit from OSA stepping in to ensure fair admission arrangements are in place. Moreover, this case will have a wider reach, highlighting with the OSA the issue of an unfair school admission system which has been allowed to develop. This system has introduced indirect religious discrimination into admission arrangements.

 If successful, the case will help to ensure that children's secondary school choices are not restricted by the faith of their primary school and by a ‘feeder school’ system that funnels children into faith schools. By operating in this manner, the current system is limiting parents’ choices of non-faith ‘good’ schools in their area, ultimately forcing a Catholic education onto children due to a lack of choice for their parents. If we are required to challenge the OSA at judicial review, we could set a precedent that would ensure that children across the country are treated equally regarding secondary school choices.”

Update 5

Dr Sara Thompson

Feb. 28, 2022

Nearly 100 pages of arguments...

Submitted! AGAIN! 

Another exhausting week as I submitted last Friday my 25-page final comments to further letters from the School Adjudicators regarding my Referrals lodged last November.

It is all together now near enough 100 pages.

Fingers crossed that at least one or two pages in the nearly 100 the lawyer and I wrote will have the main argument that persuades the Adjudicators. 🤞


Update 4

Dr Sara Thompson

Feb. 2, 2022

Submitted Response to the OSA

Submitted! 

I finally submitted yesterday my 32-page comments to the schools answers to my Referrals lodged last November.

It took me the best part of the last 4 weeks, at a time I am snowed under with work so it was really hard work and late nights.

I did to my very best, supported by legal advice, so fingers crossed. 

Update 3

Dr Sara Thompson

Jan. 25, 2022

OSA accepts Referrals and assigns Two Adjudicators to the case

I am cautiously optimistic that the Office of School Adjudicator (OSA) will take seriously the “Referrals” we formally put through earlier in November.

The OSA has now confirmed they are assigning two adjudicators (which we can cautiously read as good news and shows they are committing resources) and they confirmed they will be looking at each referral, including Beauchamp (which has a determination on the issue dating less than 2 years ago).

If anyone wants to read the (19-pages!) referrals, it will be public information on the OSA page.

Fingers crossed.



Update 2

Dr Sara Thompson

Jan. 11, 2022

What Sir Geoffrey Bindman said

"Sir Geoffrey Bindman, a sort of legend in services to Human Rights, became aware of my action and took the time to write to me to say that "the conduct of the education authorities must be in accordance with equality law".

Update 1

Dr Sara Thompson

Jan. 5, 2022

Secretary of Education: Catholic Diocese does not have power to restrict

Here is an extract from a letter from Mr Nadhim Zawahi, Secretary of State for Education in connection to the Referral I put through to the OSA. Fingers crossed.

"A Catholic diocese could seek to influence its own schools but does not have any powers to restrict parental preference in the way set out in your letter because it is a matter for the admission authority of the nonfaith secondary school whether it adopts feeder schools. If it does adopt feeders, it is a matter for the admission authority of the secondary school to decide which local schools it is fair to adopt as feeders - and these might include Catholic schools. Any selection of feeders, as is the case with the adoption of any other admission criteria, must be fair in the local context.

I have asked officials in my department to raise this issue with the Catholic Education Service with a view to them discussing it with the diocese for the area."

 

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