Church says faith schools must re­tain their re­li­gious ba­sis

The Church of England - - NEWS - By A Staff Re­porter

THE CHURCH of Eng­land has de­clared its op­po­si­tion to new plans that could see faith schools stripped of their ethos.

The plans are be­ing mooted in a new con­sul­ta­tion ex­er­cise by the Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion and pro­pose that the Sec­re­tary of State would be legally re­quired to in­ter­vene in fail­ing schools.

Such schools could be passed to an acad­emy trust, rais­ing con­cerns in the Church. The fear is that the faith schools would then lose their re­li­gious ba­sis.

The Church of Eng­land’s Chief Ed­u­ca­tion Of­fi­cer, the Rev Nigel Gen­ders, said that, even if fail­ing, “Church schools must con­tinue to op­er­ate with the same ethos and em­pha­sis; they can’t just dis­pense with their es­sen­tial Church of Eng­land char­ac­ter.”

The Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion said that in the case of a fail­ing school they would seek ‘in the vast ma­jor­ity of cases’, a trust run by the lo­cal dio­cese or other church schools.

“How­ever, if the dio­cese lacks the ca­pac­ity to bring about the re­quired im­prove­ment, we will pair the school with a strong non-church spon­sor and en­sure its re­li­gious char­ac­ter is pro­tected.”

Mr Gen­ders said: “De­tails of the con­sul­ta­tion and what it will ac­tu­ally mean in prac­tice are still be­ing dis­cussed. As the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter has said in Par­lia- ment, prin­ci­ples and pro­to­cols for this con­sul­ta­tion will be cap­tured in a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing and we are work­ing on that cur­rently with the Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion.”

He pointed out that the Church, one of the coun­try’s lead­ing sup­pli­ers of ed­u­ca­tion, had not op­posed the Bill “but the de­tails must be ironed out to al­low chil­dren to con­tinue to have ac­cess to ef­fec­tive ed­u­ca­tion in a Church of Eng­land con­text.”

How­ever, he de­nied that the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion would ‘com­pel the Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary to take over church schools rated by in­spec­tors as in­ad­e­quate’.

“We don’t see it like that,” he said on his blog.

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