AN OLDHAM group is campaigning for an end to “religious selection” and “discrimination” in the borough’s schools, including the new Brian Clarke Church of England Academy.

Members of the Fair Schools for Oldham group are “alarmed” at the way faith schools continue to “discriminate on the basis of the beliefs and religious practices of a child’s parents”.

A statement by the group reads: “The new Brian Clarke Academy is being marketed as a multi-faith, multi-ethnic, inclusive school that will reflect the make-up of Oldham. However, children whose parents can prove that they actively worship regularly, are eligible for more than twice as many places as those that don’t, so children from faith backgrounds will be massively overrepresented.

“Fair Schools for Oldham are not convinced that the complicated admissions arrangements - involving three geographical zones - will lead to a fair distribution of places at the new school.”

Responding to the claims a spokesperson from the Brian Clarke Church of England Academy, that will be located on Booth Street, Oldham called the group’s statement “factually incorrect”.

The spokesperson said: “Faith based, and non-faith-based places are equally split – 120 places for each category.”

“Indeed, our admissions policy is specifically designed to be very inclusive."

In a longer statement the spokesperson added: “The demographic and socio-economic make up of Oldham is complex.

“Whilst we understand that our admissions policy could be seen at first glance as “complicated”, upon further reading we hope people begin to understand that we are trying very hard to realise our vision for the school - a school that is aspirational, multi-cultural, multi-faith and multi-talented – a school community that is a true microcosm of the borough as a whole.”

Fair Schools for Oldham also criticised the Cranmer Trust, which runs the Brian Clarke Church of England Academy, for its “badly publicised” consultation that they claim went “under the radar.”

In response, the school’s spokesperson said: “We do not accept at all that the consultation was “badly publicised”.

The consultation was reportedly backed by 92 per cent of respondents, with the full results set to be published by the Cranmer Trust “shortly”.

Although leaflets were not sent to every household within the three-mile geographical reach of the school due to levels of “resource” and lockdown restrictions, according to the spokesperson the local press, council, schools, organisations, community centres, MPs, libraries, and health centres were among the public bodies informed of the school’s plans.

On Thursday, May 20 Allison Ash, from Oldham, was revealed as the school’s first head teacher.

Ms Ash was most recently Deputy Headteacher at the Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ Blue Coat School in Oldham, also a Cranmer Education Trust school.