Article published 2nd June 2008
There are many schools within the UK for those with faith and their dominance of published league tables has led to an unprecedented rise in demand.
Like all schools they vary in quality but most enjoy good parental support - partly because they are less easy to get into than secular schools!
Faith schools control their own admissions and as such are in a better position to 'select by the back door'; choosing who they want and importantly who they don't want sitting at their desks.
Church of England schools
Most English faith schools are run by the Church of England, an organisation that seems to an outsider to be somewhat fuzzy in its beliefs and self-belief. As a result most 'C of E' schools don't hit you over the head with religion and will look favourably on applications for places from adherents of various other faiths (often quite loosely defined).
Roman Catholic schools
Tony Blair famously got his sons admitted to The London Oratory School, arguably London's most prestigious state RC school.
Blair is a committed Catholic but is that enough to secure a place?
Roman Catholic or RC schools are the next most numerous group in the state sector. Much more religious and exclusive than the general run of C of E schools; many RC state schools will not, in practice, admit your child unless a priest certifies that you have attended mass regularly for 5 years; others set even higher hurdles. RC independent schools - even the most prestigious - are much more welcoming to the lapsed and to other faiths, though all require children to participate in the religious life of the school.
In some areas, the 'faith' school is seen as the only good state option.
The head dismissed any 'misconception that chorister boys are whey-faced and insipid' – they need to be 'robust, fit, fun-loving and go-getting'.
A range of other faiths run schools - independent and state - Jewish, Muslim, Methodist, Moravian, Presbyterian, Quaker, Seventh Day Adventist, Sikh and the United Reformed Church, plus several others with religious or quasi-religious associations. There are also a few schools that are sponsored by more than one denomination.
The Good Schools Guide (GSG) on-line allows you to Find Schools by religion and reviews many of the best of the faith schools in both the independent and state sectors.