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Faith schools receive bouquet from Minister

by
21 October 2010

by Margaret Holness Education Correspondent

THE Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb, handed a “bouquet” to church schools when he addressed the Catholic Diocesan Schools Com­mis­­sioners conference last week. The Churches had been part of the English education system since it began, and had an im­portant role to play in the 21st century, he said.

“Around a third of maintained schools in England are faith schools, and, despite operating in some of the poorest areas of the country, they are consistently outperforming other schools,” Mr Gibb said. They in­cluded half of the best performing secondary schools, and two-thirds of the most successful primaries. More­over, they had more diverse intakes, and OFSTED has said that they are more successful at promoting community cohesion than other schools.

Mr Gibb used part of his speech to encourage Roman Catholic dioceses to participate in the academy pro­gramme. While Church of England education authorities were among the first supporters of Labour’s academy initiative, and form the largest spon­soring group, their RC colleagues have been more hesitant.

The Government is keen to create a wider academy pool, and is encour­aging outstanding schools to convert to academy status; but C of E and RC authorities alike have been concerned about issues of land ownership, gov­ern­ance, and curriculum. The Gov­ern­ment has paid for the develop­ment of model funding-agreements that cover these issues (News, 8 October).

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