CHURCH of England education chiefs are planning a nationwide
initiative to tackle the problems facing the most underperforming
pupils in C of E schools. The move, which has the backing
of the Archbishop of Canterbury, was announced last week by the
Church's chief education officer, the Revd Jan Ainsworth.
Speaking in London on May Day, at the annual schools conference
organised by LBMW, the National Society's solicitors, Mrs Ainsworth
said that a majority of the 4700
C of E schools were rated outstanding or good, and most of their
one million pupils thrived.
"But there remain, as much in our schools as in others,
particular groups of pupils - white working-class boys, for example
- who consistently underperform. It is our duty, consistent with
our 200-year-old mission, and with gospel values of justice and
equality, that we find ways of helping them to reach their full
potential," she said.
She told the conference, attended largely by diocesan education
staff, that early plans for the initiative had been made after the
Jerusalem Trust had offered Archbishop Welby funding for a
significant educational project.
Education teams, she said, would shortly be invited to outline
projects to improve attainment in underperforming groups: "We
cannot claim we care for all our pupils if we are content to leave
Mrs Ainsworth, who is due to retire this summer after seven
years as the Church's chief education officer, said that the
Government's emphasis since 2010 on closing the gap between the
highest- and lowest-performing pupils was consistent with the
Church's mission to the poor, for whom its schools were originally
The reforms had refocused C of E schools on their founding
purpose, and reinforced the importance of guarding their
distinctive identity. "We must never compromise on our identity. It
is the reason we exist," she said.