Church says faith schools must retain their religious basis
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.