PORTSMOUTH education boss Terry Hall has scrapped religion from the state school admissions criteria.
Religion is currently the third priority for accepting children in oversubscribed schools.
This comes after ‘looked-after’ children and those with health problems.
But the councillor’s decision means religion will be axed from any decision over school placements.
It is believed that Portsmouth is the first council in the country to take this step under the Equalities Act. But the move has attracted criticism from Tory counterpart Cllr Alistair Thompson.
He said: ‘I’m deeply concerned about the legality of this move.
‘It is not only absurd but also completely pointless – the system worked perfectly well before.’
The legal reasoning behind Cllr Hall’s decision argues that scrapping positive discrimination in favour of religious families will create a level playing field for all applicants.
Cllr Hall said: ‘This is not an attack on religion.’
In theory, the move could penalise single sex schools that are popular with religious families who do not want their children to mix with the opposite sex.
But the council is adding an option for parents who believe in single-sex schools, although this is much further down the list of criteria.