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Genders defends good value of state-funding to faith schools

22 November 2019

PA

The Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, arrives for a Cabinet meeting at Downing Street, last month

The Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, arrives for a Cabinet meeting at Downing Street, last month

THE argument that faith schools now contribute millions less to their own running costs, as argued by the Accord Coalition, has been criticised by the Church of England’s Chief Education Officer, the Revd Nigel Genders.

Speaking last week, after the publication of Accord’s Freedom of Information (FOI) figures, Mr Genders argued that the “partnership between Church and State represents exceptionally good value for the taxpayer”.

Accord, which argues against faith schools, said that voluntary aided faith schools now provide millions of pounds less to their own capital costs.

The Revd Stephen Terry, who chairs the Accord Coalition, said that it was disgraceful that “with no public debate, discriminatory faith schools have effectively seen a significant increase in their public subsidy over the last decade.”

In the past financial year, faith schools contributed £18 million towards capital-spending projects from central government, compared with more than £67 million in the 2009-10 financial year, the FOI figures suggest.

In response, Mr Genders said this week: “Drawing simplistic conclusions from these figures in order to support an ideologically driven prejudice against church schools shows a complete lack of understanding about the way the school system works, and how it has changed over the last ten to 15 years.

“Given the complexity of the different funding streams for capital investment in the school system, and the development of centrally procured and centrally funded major building programmes, as well as the shift to academy status for a large proportion of schools, it is totally misleading to use the figures in this way.

“The fact is that a third of all state-funded schools operate on land and in buildings owned by the Churches, and are provided free of charge and rent-free.”

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