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We will keep control of schools, says C of E education officer

05 June 2015


Plans under scrutiny: the education secretary, Nicky Morgan

Plans under scrutiny: the education secretary, Nicky Morgan

THE Church of England will work to retain control over its schools, including the few in special measures, its chief education officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, said on Wednesday after the publication of the new Education and Adoption Bill.

This will give the Government powers to scrap local consultation and speed up the pace at which failing schools become academies. The Bill could be completed by the end of the current parliamentary session, lawyers believe.

"We will retain control of the whole family of church schools, most of which are good or outstanding, and ensure the improvement of any that give cause for concern through partnership and collaboration," Mr Genders said.

Since 2010, just two or three C of E schools and academies have been handed over to other sponsors, but in each case with the consent of the diocese.

The more common picture is of dioceses themselves acting as sponsors, sometimes in collaboration with other organisations, and succeeding in turning round struggling schools.

This week, C of E educationists and their legal advisers were scrutinising the Bill for measures that could adversely affect dioceses' control over their schools and trustee-held sites. These issues were foreseen by contributors to the Church Times this week.

One significant concern raised was the powers of regional school commissioners, who will have delegated authority to require a school to become an academy, but who, in the case of a church school, might have little understanding of the position of the diocese.

In an open letter to the Secretary of State, Lichfield diocese's director of education, Colin Hopkins, calls for greater transparency in the way decisions are taken by school commissioners and ministers. "There is a rumour that the next Education Act will contain powers to overrule diocesan boards of education if they impede your desire for structural change. If that is the case, then I think the provision is based on a misunderstanding. . .

"I am worried about the back-door erosion over time of the church ethos in our academies because non-church directors do not understand or value the church dimension."


Education supplement:

Matter of control Nigel Genders reports that the C of E is capable of putting its own house in order

Yet more changes? Poorly thought-out legislation could put the Church in conflict with the Government over ownership, warns John Howson

A question of survival Margaret Holness sees how partnership can be of benefit to rural schools

Remember 1944 The Church-State partnership has lasted a long time. Don't mess it up, Howard Dellar warns

Growing together Margaret Holness investigates two schools that have found a new vision through partnership

When emotions ran high Martin Hislop had an unwelcome gift when he proposed changing school admissions rules

Religion? Incroyable! Dennis Richards gets a French perspective on religious studies

Every child is loved by someone Dennis Richards reviews books about Asperger's, sport, money - and sheep

Dear Secretary of State . . . What do leading educationists want from the new government? We asked them to write to Nicky Morgan


Has education improved over the past five years? Vote here

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