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Faith schools top DfE league tables across the country

19 December 2014

lambeth palace

Wielding the scissors: Archbishop Welby opened a new outdoor prayer-space at St Stephen's School in Stockwell, south London, on Monday

Wielding the scissors: Archbishop Welby opened a new outdoor prayer-space at St Stephen's School in Stockwell, south London, on Monday

AS THE Department for Education's latest statistics show a continued improvement in primary school standards, Church of England and Roman Catholic schools emerged as among the most successful in the country.

Tables based on last summer's standard assessment tests (SATs), taken by all pupils in the final year at primary school, showed C of E schools in the first three places in 92 out of 150 local authorities.

One in four of all primary schools are Anglican foundations, but they accounted for almost half of the highest-achieving primaries in England. Overall, 62 per cent of the 693 schools that achieved "perfect" results - where all Year 6 pupils achieve the set standard in reading, writing, and maths - were "faith schools": 330 C of E, 88 RC, four Jewish, and one Sikh school.

Opponents of church schools used the results to argue that faith schools use their admissions procedures to cream off the most promising children. Most C of E schools, however, use local-authority admissions criteria, and a high proportion are local schools that serve a single community.

The C of E's chief education officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, said that the success of church schools was about ethos, aspiration, and dedication. Referring to Hampden Gurney, a C of E primary in central London which topped the City of Westminster's tables, he said: "It had a fantastic result, even with a significant number of disadvantaged pupils in Year 6."

In Barking and Dagenham, one of the poorest boroughs in the country, William Ford C of E junior school topped the borough's results: 99 per cent of its Year 6 pupils met the Government's overall standard.

Mr Genders was among leading educationists who welcomed the reducing attainment gap between poorer pupils - those receiving free school meals - and their more advantaged peers. His aim was for all C of E schools to achieve the standards of the best, he said.

This year, just over two-thirds of those on free school meals achieved the government target - a rise of four per cent on last year. This compares with 83 per cent for non-disadvantaged pupils. The Schools Minister, David Laws, said that, although the gap was narrowing, there were still too many areas that had unacceptable levels of attainment for disadvantaged pupils.

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