Head’s lack of faith in school statistics

HITTING BACK ... headteacher Brendan Tapping.

HITTING BACK ... headteacher Brendan Tapping.

A SOUTH Tyneside headteacher has questioned the figures used in a report criticising faith schools for not being inclusive enough.

The Fair Admissions Campaign (FAC) said last week that the borough’s Church of England and Roman Catholic secondary schools were failing to reflect the socio-economic make-up of their communities.

In South Tyneside, it found schools that allow religious selection have 11.72 per cent fewer pupils eligible for free school meals – a measure of deprivation – than would be expected.

St Wilfrid’s RC College, in Temple Park Road, South Shields, was ranked in the worst 10 per cent in the country, according to the measure. But headteacher Brendan Tapping said: “St Wilfrid’s admission policy fully meets all statutory requirements.

“I would strongly question the reliability of the data used in the report and therefore the validity of the conclusions reached.”

He said figures published by the Department for Education last month show St Wilfrid’s to have 28.9 per cent of pupils eligible for free school meals in the January census. The figure used by FAC was 14.25 per cent.

The proportion of children eligible for free school meals at St Wilfrid’s is therefore higher than the local area percentage average quoted by FAC of 22.38 per cent.

Mr Tapping added: “I would also question the reliability of the statistics quoted by FAC when comparing comprehensive schools with no religious character to religious schools regarding socio-economic exclusivity.”

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“If we use the income deprivation affecting children index as an indicator, then it illustrates for instance that Catholic schools take a greater proportion of the most deprived children when compared to all schools nationally.”

The FAC wants all state-funded schools in England and Wales to be open equally to all children, regardless of religion.

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