Schools with religious character, etc.: paragraph 5
868.This paragraph allows schools which have a religious character or ethos (often referred to as faith schools) to discriminate because of religion or belief in relation to admissions and in access to any benefit, facility or service. It means that faith schools may have admissions criteria which give preference to members of their own religion and it allows them to conduct themselves in a way which is compatible with their religious character or ethos. It does not allow faith schools to discriminate because of any other of the protected characteristics, such as sex, race or sexual orientation. Nor does it allow them to discriminate because of religion in other respects, such as by excluding a pupil or subjecting him to any other detriment.
A Muslim school may give priority to Muslim pupils when choosing between applicants for admission (although the Admissions Code will not allow it to refuse to accept pupils of another or no religion unless it is oversubscribed). However, it may not discriminate between pupils because of any other of the protected characteristics, such as by refusing to admit a child of the school’s own faith because she is black or a lesbian.
A Jewish school which provides spiritual instruction or pastoral care from a rabbi is not discriminating unlawfully by not making equivalent provision for pupils from other religious faiths.
A Roman Catholic school which organises visits for pupils to sites of particular interest to its own faith, such as a cathedral, is not discriminating unlawfully by not arranging trips to sites of significance to the faiths of other pupils.
A faith school would be acting unlawfully if it sought to penalise or exclude a pupil because he or she had renounced the faith of the school or joined a different religion or denomination.