About the religious freedom business…

Third post on the Playfoot case and Silver Ring Thing, and this times its more of a quickie.

One of the arguments being put up by Lydia Playfoot about the ring ban at Millais School has been that other pupils of different religions are allowed to wear their religious ‘symbols’, which makes the ban on chastity rings discriminatory.

I’ve got one more post in mind on this case, which will cover the ‘legal arguments’ and claims that this case is about religious liberty, but before I get round to that, I’d just like to put Playfoot’s claims of discrimination into context:

From the 2001 census –

Horsham had a total population of 122,088, which, broken down by religion, amounted to the following:

Christian – 93196
Buddhist – 268
Hindu – 232
Jewish – 223
Muslim – 451
Sikh – 94
Other – 440
No religion – 18854
Religion not stated – 8330

In the same year, the ethnic profile of Millais School (recorded in an Ofsted inspection) was:

Black – Caribbean heritage: 2
Black – African heritage: 3
Black – other: 2
Indian: 7
Pakistani: 11
Bangladeshi: 3
Chinese: 6
White: 1316
Any other minority ethnic group: 14

This was the year before before Playfoot started secondary education, and while a more recent Ofsted note a small increase in the number of ethnic minority pupils attending the school in recent years (and all girls school is bound to a popular choice amongst Muslims, in particular) the population trend data for those communities one would expect to account a sizeable chunk of local Muslims (Pakistani & Bangladeshi) is growing pretty slowly and its impact on local school age population is only really noticeable because of the age demographics in these communities is skewed towards children and young people.

In 2001, the school had 38 ethnic minority pupils out of 1354 – less than 3% of the school population across all years, which suggests that if Playfoot’s little coven of ostentatious virgins were all drawn from the same school year then they probably had the very small number of Muslim and Sikh pupils in the same school year pretty much outnumbered.

Sadly, there’s no current data on school population and ethnicity but this data does add a bit more context to the claims of religious discrimination laid against the school.

  • Fascinating stuff.

    However, your maths is slightly out. Millais would have 48 non-white students out of 1364, about 3.5%

    Of course, much of ‘Horsham’ includes the outlying rural areas, out to Pease Pottage, Rusper, Billingshurst and almost to the South Downs. I’m not sure of the catchment area of Millais as compared to the town itself or the District or Parliamentary Constituency (the latter of which is smaller).