Accord urges Church School reform as Gove affirms partnership with C of E

By agency reporter
July 4, 2013

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, has offered praise of existing Church Schools and urged that the Church of England opens new schools at a seminar at Lambeth Palace on 3 July, hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

In a statement released in advance of the seminar, Michael Gove said:
"We would not have so many great state schools in this country without the Church of England. I know the Church does a wonderful job helping to raise educational standards and in providing a safe and loving environment for hundreds of thousands of children. However, there is much more we can do together. I want the Church to recover the spirit which infused its educational mission in Victorian times and support more new schools – especially academies and free schools – to bring educational excellence to the nation’s poorest children."

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said: "Despite the positive aspects of Church Schools, those that select pupils on the basis of their faith are not only guilty of discrimination, but also help to fragment society. A tolerant pluralist society can only be created by having tolerant pluralist schools where children of all backgrounds grow up and inter-act together.

"In the Victorian era state funded faith schools could not select pupils on the grounds of children’s religious observance or beliefs, while in 2013 they can. Meanwhile, most Church Schools set up in the nineteenth century sought to provide education for children from poor families, while today the better Church Schools are skewed, through their religiously selective admission policies, towards serving the better heeled.

"If Michael Gove really wants Church Schools to recover the spirit which infused the Churches educational mission in Victorian times then he must make sure that Church Schools are not permitted to segregate and divide, but are made open and suitable for all in their respective local communities."

Ekklesia is an active, founding member of the Accord Coalition.

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