Report accuses Government of faith schools 'witch-hunt'

A new report out today from the Centre for Policy Studies accused the Government of carrying out a "witch-hunt" on faith schools.

In the report, 'In Bad Faith', author Cristina Odone accuses the Labour Government of being "obsessed with phoney egalitarianism and control freakery", and Gordon Brown of rejecting faith schools to keep favour with more left-wing Labour Party members.

"The Prime Minister may acknowledge that his faith is important to him. But so is his standing with the Labour party - all the more so given his record-low popularity with the voters," the former Catholic Herald editor wrote.

The Government, she added, aims to remove faith schools' remaining autonomy and is "aligning itself with the strident secularist lobby to threaten the future of faith schools in Britain".

Odone's report was an angry reaction against Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, who earlier in the year accused faith schools of serious breaches to admissions codes. She said his allegations had created a "climate of fear" around faith schools and warned that "a rich legacy is being betrayed".

The report states that there was no evidence that faith schools were deliberately turning away children in care. Out of 1,517 looking to enter secondary schools in 2007, only 15 looked after children were turned away by faith schools, the report stated.

Odone went on to argue that faith schools perform better than non-faith primary schools, making up to two thirds of the top 209 primary schools, and that they are inclusive.

"Far from being ghettos, faith schools engage with the wider community," she wrote.

Odone's report comes ahead of a Government-commissioned report on faith schools by Chief schools adjudicator Sir Philip Hunter, due out shortly.