A SUGGESTION that the admissions system at many Church of
England schools is being misused has been strongly dismissed.
A letter to The Guardian last week said that
middle-class parents were attending services in order to gain
places for their children. The letter, from a group of Anglican
clergy and lay people, said that official Church of England
guidance on admissions should ban admissions criteria that reserved
places for children whose families attend church. Wealthy parents
were playing the system to secure places in schools built for the
poor, it said.
Among the signatories are Jonathan Bartley and Simon Barrow, the
directors of the pressure group Ekklesia; the Revd Professor Keith
Ward, former Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford; and Barry
Sheerman, a lay canon at Wakefield Cathedral, who chaired the House
of Commons education select committee from 1999 to 2010.
The content of the letter was inaccurate, and the arguments were
doctrinaire, a C of E spokesman said.
The letter was based on an article by Dr Theo Hobson, published
in the New Statesman on 4 March, quoting disputed
evidence, from 2013, from the Sutton Trust.
Commenting on the article in his blog last month, the Church's
chief education officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, said that it
repeated an old, factually incorrect argument that church schools
did not help the poorest, but were full of middle-class
"The majority of church schools do not prioritise their places
on the basis of church attendance," he said, "and most of those
that do still make places available to children from the immediate