AN EXPANSION of Church of England schools to create thousands of
more places is being planned by dioceses across the country. The
aim is to meet the urgent need for new school places resulting from
the rapid rise in the birth rate. The Governmentexpects to provide
half a million new places nationally by 2021, with about 100,000
needed over the next year.
Because ministers want to concentrate new places in schools
already graded as "outstanding" or "good", church schools are
likely to be targeted for expansion because most fit this
The head of schools policy at the Church's Board of Education,
the Revd Nigel Genders, said: "The Church of England provides
around one quarter of all schools nationally and we want to play
our part in solving the places crisis."
But diocesan education and buildings officers say that they are
hampered by current funding arrangements for expansion, which is
channelled through local authorities, some of which want to
undertake the work more expensively themselves or impose
restrictive conditions which add significantly to the costs. A few,
moreover, have proposed contracts that would have involved dioceses
or trustees of church land required for school enlargement in
unacceptable potential liabilities, they say.
This week they told senior Department for Education officials
who addressed a seminar on sites and capital development, held by
the Board of Education's legal advisers, Lee Bolton
Monier-Williams, that government cash for expansion should go
directly to the provider.
Mr Genders, who also took part in the seminar, said later: "C of
E dioceses have proved themselves able effectively to deliver
efficient and value for money building projects. I am confident
that if they are given the funds directly they will provide the
buildings neededto meet the Government's objectives."