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Faith schools in Britain have always claimed it’s their adherence to religious principles that leads to above average student grades. But a study by Rebecca Allen, an academic at the Institute of Education, and reported in The Guardian today, offers a far more likely reason. Faith schools have been creaming off the richest pupils for years leaving the poorest and most underprivileged children to attend the local comprehensive.

Even when they are situated in deprived inner-city areas, religious schools have fewer poor children than local authority secondary schools.

New figures show that religious schools, in England, admit 10 per cent fewer poor pupils than is representative of the local area. Local authority schools, meanwhile, take in 30 per cent more and have a disproportionately deprived intake. The result is a school system deeply divided by social class.

The researchers discovered tactics included headmasters breaking the ban not to personally invite wealthy parents in for interviews and write their children references. The Church of England acting like a misbehaving pupil caught red handed is now trying to deflect the blame by accusing schools from other faiths.

‘We reject all suggestions that there is a conscious or unconscious policy of creaming off middle-class children,’ said a spokesman for the Church of England. Andy Hibberd, co-founder of The Parent Organisation, said he had never come across a C of E school that rejected children because of their background, but added: ‘I’d be surprised if you could find one Roman Catholic school that could categorically prove it did not [covertly] select parents based on their socio-economic background.’

The report comes the day before hundreds of thousands of secondary school pupils across Britain will discover if they got into the school of their choice. Over-subscription for faith schools in the past has meant parents will often force their children to attend church hoping it will improve their chances of getting in. In future they know all they have to do is have little Johnny choffour driven in a Bentley to the entrance interview.

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