THE Government’s decision to keep the cap on the proportion of school places which can be allocated by faith will not affect Church of England schools, its chief education officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, has said.
After months of speculation, the Education Secretary, Damien Hinds, announced that the 50-per-cent limit on faith admissions would be retained (News, 17 July 2017). Instead, more voluntary aided (VA) schools — which can apply to open with 100 per cent faith-based admissions — would be created for faith and other groups “to meet local demand”.
“The Department will work with local authorities to create these schools where they are needed, subject to a ten per cent contribution from the provider to the capital costs,” the announcement last Friday said.
Responding, Mr Genders said that the Church’s “deeply Christian” commitment and “bold vision” for education would not be affected. “We want to develop new schools so more families can access this excellent education, and our commitment when we do so remains to serve the local community, with the majority of places being allocated irrespective of faith background. [The] announcement about the faith cap does not impact on that commitment.
“As well as embracing the opportunities of academies and free schools, we have a strong track record of providing around 1700 VA schools, and welcome the opportunity to consider developing more of them.”
Other measures announced by the Government last week included a “new wave” of free-school applications; a £50-million fund to increase places at existing good or outstanding schools, and for disadvantaged and other children; and an agreement with independent and grammar schools to improve outcomes for pupils of all backgrounds.
Mr Hind said: “Standards are rising in our schools, and we’ve created hundreds of thousands of new places since 2010, but we want to make sure every family can access a good school.
“By creating new schools where they are needed most, and helping all great schools to grow, we can give parents greater choice in looking at schools that are right for their family — and give children of all backgrounds access to a world-class education.”