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.
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.’)
“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.
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