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Service won’t win points

by Margaret Holness

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On the wind: the Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, looks up at balloons released by children from Norton C of E Primary School, on Friday, celebrating 200 years of church schools in the diocese DIOCESE OF ST EDMUNDSBURY & IPSWICH

On the wind: the Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, looks up at balloons released by children from Norton C of E Primary School, on Friday, celebrating 200 years of church schools in the diocese DIOCESE OF ST EDMUNDSBURY & IPSWICH

GOVERNORS who draw up ad­missions policies for the 2111 Church of England voluntary aided schools are to be told that where there are quotas for children from church families, places should be allocated only on attendance at church.

Giving extra points to parents who undertake extra duties, such as church-cleaning or bell-ringing, could discriminate against families where both parents work outside the home, new advice on admissions from the Board of Education says.

The guidance, to be launched at the General Synod next week, re­states C of E schools’ historic mission to the poor, and says that their admissions policies should demon­strate their commitment to the wider community as well as to church families.

“The guidelines give advice on how to juggle the dual respon­sibility,” a statement from the chair­man of the Board of Education, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, says.

His statement points out, how­ever, that admissions criteria come into play only in the small minority of schools that are oversubscribed. “Open places are now the norm in most church schools, including the newer ones.”

A report accompanying the new advice shows that 2508 voluntary controlled schools — more than half of all church schools — follow local-authority admissions procedures; so all places are entirely open. This is also true of most aided schools that draw up their own admissions policies. Almost all the 1950 aided primary schools have open ad­mis-sions; only a few, heavily oversub­scribed schools, mainly in London, maintained a significant number of foundation places, the report says

Of the 160 aided secondary schools, 100 of which have many more ap­plicants than places avail­able, only a tiny minority — 11 — admit all pupils according to church criteria. In nearly two-thirds of them, more than half the places were offered on an open basis.

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