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A maintained faith school is a foundation or voluntary school with a religious character. It has a foundation which holds land on trust for the school – and which may have provided some or all of the land in the first place – and which appoints governors to the school. In many cases, the land is held on trust for the specific purposes of providing education in accordance with the tenets of a particular faith.
Decisions on the establishment of maintained faith schools are taken under local decision-making arrangements – either by the local authority or the Schools Adjudicator, following a statutory process. If proposals are approved to establish a maintained faith school, a further application will be needed to the Secretary of State to designate the school with a religious character.
Maintained faith schools are like all other maintained schools in a number of ways. They must
In addition to needing to meet all the usual requirements of maintained status, there are some areas where maintained faith schools have additional faith-based freedoms and flexibilities:
Voluntary Aided (VA) schools may fill all of their teaching staff places from staff that are of their particular faith and may apply a faith test for appointment of support staff if there is a genuine occupational requirement.
Voluntary Controlled (VC) and Foundation faith schools are required to reserve up to a fifth of their teaching posts as religious posts, where those teachers are specifically appointed to teach religious education. This can include headteachers. These schools may not discriminate in relation to support staff or teachers who are not reserved.
All maintained schools are required to teach RE and to have daily acts of collective worship. In VA faith schools, the syllabus is decided by the governing body in accordance with the trust deeds of the school. Foundation and VC faith schools follow the locally agreed syllabus but parents of any pupil have the right to request their child receives RE in accordance with the tenets of the faith and the school should provide such RE for these pupils.
Although faith schools may give priority to applicants who are of the faith of the school, they must admit other applicants if they cannot fill all of their places with children of the faith and ensure that their admission arrangements comply with the School Admissions Code.
Faith schools have a faith-based ethos that is written into the school’s Instrument of Government.
There just over 20,000 maintained schools in England of which almost 7,000 are faith schools (source DfE statistics 2011). Around 68 per cent of maintained faith schools are Church of England schools and 30 per cent are Catholic. All but 61 (including Seventh Day Adventist ) of the maintained faith schools are associated with the major Christian denominations. The 61 schools are comprised of:
The major Christian denominations are:
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