How Many Faith Schools Are There In The UK?

number of faith schools in the uk
Happy Muslim student and her friend reading their exam results while walking through university hallway.

Have you ever wondered if there are schools that are connected to a particular religion? They are what are referred to as faith schools, and these types of schools are common in the UK.

Maybe you’re wondering about the number of faith schools in the UK or you have a friend who needs to apply to such schools and you want to help them find out.

Normally, these are regular state schools. They might teach some things differently than other schools, but really, they follow the same basic curriculums as the other schools in the UK.

Now, the exact number of faith schools in the UK can be quite tricky to put together, because, are there a lot of them across Northern Ireland, Wales, England, and Scotland!

Well, that’s what we will be on and about in this article. Discussing these faith schools further and finding out how many really are in the UK.

What Are Faith Schools?

Faith schools, also known as religious schools, are educational institutions that are affiliated with a specific religious denomination or faith. These schools integrate religious beliefs and teachings into their curriculum and educational philosophy.

Faith schools are normal state schools associated with a particular religious group, such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, or Hinduism, among others. They often have close ties to religious institutions like churches, mosques, synagogues, or temples.

One of the defining features of faith schools is the inclusion of religious education as a core part of the curriculum. Students in these schools receive instruction in the teachings, rituals, and values of the affiliated religion.

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How Many Faith Schools Are There In The UK?

Pinning down the number of faith schools in the UK can be quite tricky because there are a lot of them spread across that part of the world. But according to a not-so-recent report by a department of the UK government, Explore Education Statistics, there were about 8,000 mainstream faith schools in the UK as of 2019. That’s roughly one-third of all state-funded schools in the UK. Imagine!

These schools have affiliations with several religious denominations, including Christianity (Catholic, Church of England, and others), Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism, and other faiths.

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How Do Faith Schools Differ From Non-Faith Schools?

Faith schools and non-faith schools differ primarily in their religious affiliation and the role that religion plays in their educational programs. Here are some key distinctions between the two:

Religious Affiliation:

  • Faith Schools: Faith schools are affiliated with a specific religious denomination or faith. For example, there are Catholic schools, Church of England schools, Islamic schools, Jewish schools, and so on.
  • Non-Faith Schools: Non-faith schools do not have a religious affiliation and are typically secular. They do not promote or prioritize any particular religion in their curriculum or daily activities.

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Religious Education:

  • Faith Schools: One of the most significant differences is the inclusion of religious education as a core part of the curriculum in faith schools. Students in these schools receive instruction in the teachings, rituals, and values of the affiliated religion.
  • Non-Faith Schools: Non-faith schools do not provide religious education as a central component of their curriculum. Instead, they focus on secular subjects without religious instruction.

Worship and Religious Practices:

  • Faith Schools: Faith schools may incorporate religious ceremonies, prayers, or worship as part of their daily or weekly routines, aligning with the religious beliefs of the school’s affiliation.
  • Non-Faith Schools: Non-faith schools do not engage in religious ceremonies or practices during school hours.

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Admission Criteria:

  • Faith Schools: Some faith schools give priority to admitting students who belong to the same religious faith or denomination. However, admission policies can vary, and many faith schools admit students from diverse religious backgrounds.
  • Non-Faith Schools: Non-faith schools typically admit students without regard to their religious beliefs. Admission is often based on geographic proximity or other non-religious criteria.

Also read: Do In-State Schools Students Have to Follow a National Curriculum?

Values and Ethos:

  • Faith Schools: Faith schools often emphasize the promotion of moral and ethical values based on the teachings of the affiliated religion. This can influence the school’s approach to discipline, community involvement, and social responsibility.
  • Non-Faith Schools: Non-faith schools may also promote values but without a religious basis. Their values and ethos tend to be more secular.


Faith Schools: Faith schools may have governing bodies that include representatives from the affiliated religious institution. This governance can influence decision-making and policies within the school.

Non-Faith Schools: Non-faith schools are typically governed by educational authorities and may have a more secular governance structure.

Also, read: Why Do Private Schools Have Longer Holidays in the UK?

Advantages & Disadvantages Of Attending A Faith School

Attending a faith school can offer both advantages and disadvantages, depending on an individual’s perspective, beliefs, and preferences. Here are some of the key advantages and disadvantages associated with attending a faith school:


  • Strong Moral and Values Education: Faith schools often prioritize the teaching of moral and ethical values based on the principles of the affiliated religion. This can provide students with a strong foundation in character development and moral decision-making.
  • Religious Instruction: For families who are devoutly religious and want their children to receive a religious education, faith schools provide an environment where religious teachings are integrated into the curriculum.
  • Sense of Community: Faith schools often foster a sense of community and belonging among students, parents, and teachers who share the same faith. This can create a supportive and close-knit school community.
  • Cultural Identity: Attending a faith school can help students connect with their cultural and religious heritage, which can be especially valuable for minority or immigrant communities.
  • High Academic Standards: Some faith schools are known for their high academic standards and rigorous educational programs, which can provide students with a competitive advantage in their academic pursuits.

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  • Limited Diversity: Faith schools may have a limited demographic and cultural diversity because they often admit students from a particular religious background. This can result in a less diverse and inclusive learning environment.
  • Religious Indoctrination: Critics argue that faith schools can sometimes prioritize religious indoctrination over critical thinking and exposure to diverse perspectives. This can limit a student’s ability to make informed choices about their beliefs.
  • Admission Criteria: Some faith schools give preference to students of the same faith, potentially excluding those from different religious backgrounds or secular families. This can be seen as discriminatory by some.
  • Potential for Isolation: Students in faith schools may have limited exposure to individuals with different beliefs, which can hinder their ability to interact with people from diverse backgrounds later in life.
  • Controversy and Divisiveness: Faith schools can be a source of controversy and social division, especially in areas where different faiths have competing schools. This can lead to tensions within communities.
  • Public Funding and Accountability: In some countries, there are debates about the use of public funds to support faith schools, particularly when they have selective admission policies. Critics argue that public funds should not support religious education.

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Do Faith Schools Impact Religious and Cultural Diversity?

The impact of faith schools on religious and cultural diversity can vary depending on several factors, including the policies and practices of the specific faith school, the region or country in which it operates, and the broader context of the local community. Here are some ways in which faith schools can impact religious and cultural diversity:

1. Potential for Limited Diversity:

  • Impact: Faith schools, by their nature, often have a religious affiliation and may give preference to admitting students of the same faith. This can result in a student body that is less religiously diverse compared to non-faith schools.
  • Effect: This can limit exposure to different religious beliefs and practices, potentially leading to a more homogenous religious environment within the school.

2. Encouraging Cultural Identity:

Impact: Faith schools may play a role in preserving and promoting cultural and religious identity, particularly among minority or immigrant communities. They can create a safe space for students to connect with their cultural heritage.

Effect: This can be a positive aspect for students who want to maintain a strong connection to their cultural and religious roots.

3. Religious Tolerance and Understanding:

Impact: Some faith schools make efforts to promote religious tolerance and understanding. They may include teachings about other religions and foster an atmosphere of respect for diversity.

Effect: In such cases, attending a faith school can lead to greater awareness and tolerance of other faiths, potentially contributing to a more inclusive and harmonious society.

4. Social Segregation and Isolation:

Impact: In areas with multiple faith schools catering to different religious groups, there is a risk of social segregation, where students from different backgrounds have limited interaction.

Effect: This isolation can hinder the development of social and cultural diversity, potentially leading to misunderstandings and tensions between communities.

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5. Controversy and Community Division:

Impact: The presence of multiple faith schools in a community can sometimes lead to controversy and division, especially if resources are perceived as being unequally distributed among these schools.

Effect: This can create tensions within communities and may affect overall social cohesion.

6. Regional Variations:

Impact: The impact of faith schools on diversity can vary widely by region. In some areas, faith schools may have a significant influence on diversity, while in others, the effect may be less pronounced.


 What is a faith school?

A faith school is an educational institution affiliated with a specific religious denomination or faith. It integrates religious teachings and values into its curriculum and educational philosophy.

How do faith schools differ from non-faith schools?

Faith schools have a religious affiliation and often provide religious education, while non-faith schools are secular and do not include religious teachings in their curriculum.

Are faith schools open to students of all faiths?

It depends on the specific faith school. Some admit students from diverse religious backgrounds, while others may prioritize students of the same faith.

Are faith schools publicly funded?

In some countries, including the UK, faith schools receive public funding. However, the extent of funding and regulations can vary by region and country.

Do faith schools have higher academic standards?

Some faith schools are known for their rigorous academic programs, but this can vary. Not all faith schools necessarily have higher academic standards.

Are there disadvantages to attending a faith school?

Potential disadvantages include limited diversity, the risk of religious indoctrination, and controversies surrounding religious influence in education. However, these factors can vary by school.

How can I find a faith school in my area?

You can typically find information about faith schools in your area by contacting your local educational authorities or searching online for school directories.

Can students from non-religious backgrounds attend faith schools?

Many faith schools admit students from non-religious backgrounds, but admission policies vary. Some prioritize students of the affiliated faith.

Do faith schools promote tolerance of other religions?

Some faith schools actively promote religious tolerance and understanding by teaching about other religions and fostering an atmosphere of respect for diversity.


Faith schools in the United Kingdom and around the world represent a unique dimension of the educational landscape. They offer a distinctive blend of religious teachings and academic instruction, fostering values, and cultural connections within their communities.



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