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Think tank talks down faith schools

09 December 2016

iSTOCK

CHURCH of England and other “faith schools” perform better academically because they educate proportionately fewer children with challenging educational needs, a think tank has said.

Prompted by a proposal in a recent Government Green Paper to encourage new schools with a religious designation and lift the current 50-per-cent limit on faith places, the Education Policy Institute (EPI), a think tank chaired by David Laws, a former Liberal Democrat education minister, said that more faith schools would do nothing to raise standards generally.

EPI researchers said that, while pupils in primary and secondary faith schools, including disadvantaged ones, get better academic results, such schools also had a higher proportion of children who had scored higher in early-years tests. “Faith schools were, on average, slightly more socially selective than high-performing schools, but, at secondary level, much less socially selective than grammar schools,” their report says.

When the Green Paper was published in the autumn, the Church of England’s chief education officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, said that the proposal would not affect the Church’s policy, because all its new schools would be directed at their own community.

The C of E initially established schools to serve the poor and disadvantaged; the aim of new C of E schools was consistent with that vision, he said this week. “We have opened new schools, and sponsored academies, in some of the most disadvantaged and challenging areas in the country. We have already made it clear that any lifting of the faith cap will not change our approach.”

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