Thinking Anglicans

CofE school admissions: a policy change?

The Bishop of Oxford, John Pritchard, who is also chairman of the Church of England’s Board of Education, has been speaking about school admission policies.

This began with an article in the TES Education Supplement C of E opens school gates to non-believers

The Rt Revd John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, said that admissions policies favouring religious children should be changed, even if accepting a broader range of pupils damaged results.

“I’m really committed to our schools being as open as they can be,” Revd [sic] Pritchard told The TES. “I know that there are other philosophies that will start at the other end, that say that these are for our church families, but I have never been as convinced of that as others.

“Every school will have a policy that has a proportion of places for church youngsters … what I would be saying is that number ought to be minimised because our primary function and our privilege is to serve the wider community. Ultimately I hope we can get the number of reserved places right down to 10 per cent.”

The Bishop’s comments come ahead of guidelines on admissions to be published by the CofE during the summer. Around half of the church’s 4,800 schools are voluntary aided, meaning they control their own admissions policies.

He also gave an interview to the BBC News TV channel, which is linked from Bishop: ‘Open school access, even if standards fall’.

And he gave an interview to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4: Church schools to be ‘fair’ to non-believers.

Other news reports:

Guardian Church of England schools urged to offer more places to non-Christians
Telegraph Limit believers to 10pc of pupils in CoE schools, urges bishop

Organisations which have been campaigning for such a policy change responded:

ACCORD Accord welcomes radical recommendation to reduce religious discrimination in Church of England schools
British Humanist Association New Church of England plans to reduce discrimination in school admissions welcome but do not go far enough
National Secular Society Bishop admits that church schools succeed because of selection
Ekklesia Church schools should end selection by religion

Further responses:
Telegraph Bishop under fire over quota plan for church schools
Polly Toynbee at Cif belief Faith schools: now even the church admits they’re unfair

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Father Ron Smith
13 years ago

I’m all for the opening up of state-funded schools to ALL pupils. However, it would appear that both Jewish and Muslim religious Leaders are not quite so open as the Anglican Bishop of Oxford.

I certainly would not like the children of a practising Anglican family turned away from an Anglican Church school as a direct result of Dr. Pritchard’s new openness to all comers, though. The question is: what sort of limit, if any, should be imposed on any quota system?

13 years ago

Either the schools exist to propagate the faith or they do not – if that is not their primary purpose then they serve no useful purpose in the Church’s mission and indeed only distract the Church and therefore should not exist at all, IMHO.
This is a road that once entered has only one logical conclusion – perhaps it is the correct way to go but it is an irreversible choice…….

Simon Sarmiento
13 years ago

Here’s a comment on his personal experience as a non-Christian parent, by a journalist

Simon Sarmiento
13 years ago

And another good comment on this matter, from Bishop Alan Wilson

Simon Sarmiento
13 years ago

Ripon & Leeds Education Director comments

Father Ron Smith
13 years ago

As someone has already mentioned, I believe, on this site; a previous Archbishop of Canterbury once offered the opinion that The Church is perhaps the only institution that does not exist for its own sake, but rather for the sake of the world. What would that say to us about the need to open up the use of Church Schools to outsiders?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x