Thursday, 14 November 2013

Welby and church school admissions policies

Update Church Times and Guardian articles added (Thursday afternoon)

The Times today carries, behind its paywall, an interview that the Archbishop of Canterbury gave to Ruth Gledhill. She has written about this on her blog, and included a transcript of the interview.

The Archbishop’s comments on the admissions polices of church schools have attracted a lot of attention, and I copy them below from Gledhill’s blog.

Education
Church schools of the future - stats on faith schools are to be released at General Synod on Monday.

“It’s a hugely important document -
What you are seeing in the Church schools is a deeper and deeper commitment to the common good. There’s a steady move away from faith-based entry tests. They are not selective in terms of education. And they are focusing, particularly the new church academies - and you can see that in diocese after diocese - are focusing on the areas of highest deprivation where the Church school adds the most enormous value.
(in actual Church Urban Fund speech he said: ‘It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the Church is part of the solution for building community blessing at local level - although I suspect that it might be questioned by some. But the Church has been an integral part of delivering education in this country since before the state ever agreed to get involved.’)
Interview cont.
“So in Durham where we created new academies we deliberately targeted the really difficult areas. All our five children went through the local state schools all their way through education. So we have a really long personal experience of what it is to educate children in the state system wherever you happen to be and some of the areas weren’t the most flourishing. So our experience is that - it is a very complex problem what we do about education. What is absolutely clear is home and family is essential. Really good school leadership is absolutely critical. It is not necessary to select to get a really good school. There are unbelievably brilliant schools that are entirely open to all applicants without selection criteria apart from residence, where you live, and which produce staggeringly good results. It’s a question of - and you can point to them all over the place - it’s a question of outstanding leadership.”

Said he did not agree that abolition of grammar schools had broken down social mobility. “I think you can get there by other routes which are much more effective.” However he agreed that “certainly measured social mobility has decreased according to the sociologists. We have seen that as far as I can see over the last few years.”

Lambeth Palace issued this press statement late last night.

Church school statement from Lambeth Palace
13 November 2013

In the course of a wide ranging interview for The Times on the subject of tackling poverty, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was asked about the role of schools. He praised the work of church schools especially in areas of highest deprivation, and stressed the importance of home, family and excellent school leadership.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued the following statement regarding selection criteria for church schools:-

“I fully support the current policy for schools to set their own admissions criteria, including the criterion of faith. Nothing in my wider comments to The Times on this subject should be seen as “revealing” any changes nor dissenting from current policy.”

Arun Arora, the CofE’s Director of Communications, published Church Schools Fact and Fiction this morning.

The (erroneous) story in today’s Times Newspaper claiming that the Church of England ‘moving away’ from selecting school pupils based on religion was a creative piece of writing. So creative in fact that the Lambeth Palace issued a statement correcting the story which reads: “In the course of a wide ranging interview for The Times today on the subject of tackling poverty, the Archbishop of Canterbury was asked about the role of schools. He praised the work of church schools especially in areas of highest deprivation, and stressed the importance of home, family and excellent school leadership.” The Archbishop himself douses the story in the Times with cold water by saying:

“I fully support the current policy for schools to set their own admissions criteria, including the criterion of faith. Nothing in my wider comments to The Times on this subject should be seen as “revealing” any changes nor dissenting from current policy.’

So in the midst of this contested space it’s worth stating some of the facts on Church of England Schools…

He continues with an explanation of the difference between voluntary controlled schools (whose admission policies are set by the local authority) and voluntary aided schools (which are their own admissions authority, but are bound by the Schools Admission Code produced by the Department of Education).

Alice Philipson published this on The Telegraph website this morning: Church ‘moving away’ from selecting school pupils based on religion

Online comment includes:

The Accord Coalition Praise for inclusivity at Church of England schools by the Archbishop of Canterbury must now be followed with clear leadership
Andrew Copson Archbishop of Canterbury in 24 hour recantation
Fair Admissions Campaign response to Justin Welby’s comments on admissions

General Synod will be debating GS 1920 - The Church School of the Future on Tuesday of next week.

Update

Tim Wyatt in the Church Times Welby denies change in policy on church school admissions

Fiona Millar in The Guardian Justin Welby is right – faith should not affect a child’s education

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 14 November 2013 at 1:58pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

Three cheers for Church schools - simply the best!

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 14 November 2013 at 4:06pm GMT

I chair the Governors of an Academy which took over from a failing school. It is sponsored jointly by the Diocese and the local University. We have raised standards and have developed remarkable ethos in quite a deprived area. We do not have, nor want, a faith based admission policy. We are proud to say that we are a faith - based school but not a faith school - and we have our own ordained full-time Anglican chaplain who holds the position of Assistant Vice-principal. The christian ethos and values run right through all that we do.

Posted by: John Wallace on Thursday, 14 November 2013 at 11:26pm GMT

"The christian ethos and values run right through all that we do." John Wallace

And what provision is there in the area for parents who do not want their children to have an education where a Christian ethos and values run right through everything?

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Friday, 15 November 2013 at 9:28am GMT

On the face of it, and not for the first time - correct me if I'm wrong - our new Archbishop of Canterbury has integrity problems. A good thing in a way, because it's sometimes important to test models to destruction and the inability of Alpha and its adherents to arrest the decline of the Church of England is worth demonstrating.

Posted by: John on Friday, 15 November 2013 at 10:10am GMT

The parent church of alpha has planted 22 churches in London, which in turn is the only Diocese in the CofE not in long term decline. That sounds like a model well worth testing.

Posted by: david keen on Saturday, 16 November 2013 at 7:05pm GMT

Isn't it time we dropped the 'religious' entry criteria to schools? After all in most places where there is a CofE schools it's not as if there is a choice. Plus it so often puts clergy in a difficult position..... Did any one see Rev series 1 episode 1?

Posted by: Fr Paul on Saturday, 16 November 2013 at 7:11pm GMT

'Tis true, david keen. But as a certain sort of 'liberal', I just don't think Alpha and similar have the intellectual resources to deal with the very radical challenges Christianity faces in the West. It's a question of the smaller picture and the bigger picture. I also think this lack of 'resource' is already apparent in the performance of the new Archbishop of Canterbury. Time will tell. This model will be tested. And it will fail.

Posted by: John on Monday, 18 November 2013 at 8:39pm GMT
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