THE steady growth in the number of Church of England school
places over the past decade is set to continue, the Church's
parliamentary spokesman on education, the Bishop of Ely, the Rt
Revd Stephen Conway, said this month.
Bishop Conway, who holds the Church's education brief in the
House of Lords, told an education conference in London: "We want
more C of E schools, not fewer." He rejected the term "faith
schools", now used to describe all schools with a religious
"Our schools are not faith schools, they are church schools, run
for all. They are not exclusive, but inclusive. We are not
interested in producing schools to reinforce our identity, but our
schools succeed where there is a distinctive Christian ethos," he
The expansion of C of E places signalled by the seminal 2001
Dearing report has significantly increased over the past decade, in
response to the growing need for school places. After the Dearing
report, C of E provision increased by 35,000 places. The growth has
come about through both the development of new schools and the
expansion of existing schools.
Most new church schools would be built in areas of greatest
need, in line with the National Society's founding mission of
education for the poor, Bishop Conway said. He also promised an
emphasis on school improvement: the Church wanted at least 90 per
cent of its schools rated as good or outstanding.
Many church schools were oversubscribed, Bishop Conway said:
"The solution is not to focus all our energy on the admissions
process, but to invest more time building and running more
The keynote address was given by Lady Morris of Yardley, who as
Estelle Morris was Secretary of State for Education, and is now a
Canon David Whittington, formerly the Church's schools
development officer, warned the conference of an apparent
ministerial disregard for the legal framework connected with church
schools, particularly as it applied to land held on trust.