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
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
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
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.