Inclusive Pledge For Church Schools

All new Church of England faith schools will reserve a quarter of their places for children from non-Christian backgrounds and families with no religious beliefs at all, it has been announced. And Roman Catholic schools will be subject to much closer scrutiny on the social backgrounds of their pupils.

The reforms were detailed in a joint announcement from the two churches and the Education Secretary Alan Johnson, who hailed the new arrangement as a step forward for community cohesion.

Mr Johnson said: “A good education is one of the best ways of building understanding of the many issues that unite us as opposed to the views that divide.

“We want to preserve the special contribution faith schools make to raising educational standards and offering choice.

“Church of England schools have an excellent record of providing high quality education and serving disadvantaged communities and Catholic schools are among the most ethnically and socially diverse in the country,” he said.

“The announcement by both churches demonstrates an important commitment to community cohesion and high quality education for all.

“Good exam results are crucial but education is also about having the right ethos which encourages social responsibility, high aspirations, good citizenship and mutual understanding.”

Under the reforms, new C of E schools will be required to set aside at least 25% of their places for pupils from other religions – or non-faith – backgrounds.

Currently about a third of all mainstream state schools have a religious character, most of these are from the major christian denominations, with 4,600 C of E and 2,000 Catholic schools.