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.