THE new Education Bill should include clear recognition of the
position of dioceses in relation to Church of England schools, the
Second Church Estates Commissioner, Caroline Spelman, said this
Mrs Spelman, the MP for Meriden, was speaking during the Second
Reading of the Bill that would increase the Secretary of State's
powers to require schools to become academies.
If the Bill becomes law, the Education Secretary will be able to
force "academisation" on so-called "coasting" schools, in addition
to those in special measures. Only 20 per cent of the 4700 C of E
schools fall into this category, but, Mrs Spelman said, there was
concern in the Church that, where intervention was considered, the
church ethos would be protected.
Regional schools commissioners who would be able to require a
school to become an academy might have a limited understanding of
the position of dioceses in relation to church schools, she
It was also important that the Church was represented on the
interim boards that formed to oversee church schools in special
The Church's capacity was maintained through a strategic
approach rather than on a school-by-school basis, and the coherence
of the church family of schools enabled its significant
contribution to education.
"I therefore seek assurances from the Secretary of State that
the Bill and the associated regulations and guidance explicitly
recognise the duties of the dioceses and trustees who have to
preserve the Church of England character of their schools. . . I
hope the Government will continue to work with the Church of
England and the Catholic Church to ensure that the Bill and any
related regulations and guidance meet these concerns," she
The Bill is now in its Commons committee stage, scheduled to end
on 14 July. It is likely to go to the House of Lords after the
Parliamentary recess and become law in October.