§ Mr. Timms
We do not have, nor would it be appropriate to have, a policy on which faiths should be permitted to set up state schools. Any promoter can bring forward statutory proposals to set up a maintained school. Faith school promoters have to go through the same procedures and satisfy the same conditions as others. The decision whether to accept proposals rests with the local School Organisation Committee, or with the Schools Adjudicator if the committee cannot agree. In addition, under the Education Bill, it will be possible for proposals for a new faith school to be among those brought forward in response to a notice from the LEA inviting proposals for an additional secondary school and any such proposals would be decided by the Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State, Schools Organisation Committees and the Schools Adjudicator will want to see evidence of clear local agreement for a proposal. The White Paper "Schools: Achieving Success" made clear that decisions to establish faith schools should take account of the interests of all sections of the community.
§ Mr. Timms
Inspections of faith schools under section 10 of the School Inspections Act 1996 cover religious education except in the case of those voluntary and foundation schools which are designated as having a religious character and provide denominational education. Section 23 of the Act requires those schools to arrange a separate inspection of denominational education. There is no requirement that reports of those inspections refer to the extent to which schools provide education about faiths other than their own.
From September, citizenship education, including teaching about different faiths and cultures, will become a statutory part of the secondary school curriculum. As now, inspectors will be required to evaluate and report on whether schools meet their statutory requirements.