Praise for inclusivity at Church of England schools by the Archbishop of Canterbury must now be followed with clear leadership

November 14, 2013

The Accord Coalition has welcomed comments in today’s Times (£) from the Archbishop of Canterbury acknowledging the success of Church of England schools that do not select pupils by faith, but has called for stronger leadership within the Church to ensure that all of its state funded schools become open and inclusive.

Speaking to The Times, the Most Rev Justin Welby said, ‘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 … 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.’

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘The Archbishop’s comment that schools better serve the common good by being open in their admissions, is a breath of fresh air. However, the Church has made commitments towards greater inclusivity at its schools in recent years, but not delivered, and it remains to be seen whether Church schools really are shifting in their approach in pupil admissions.

‘So that the Church cannot be accused of chasing headlines, it now needs to offer clear leadership to bring about a lasting cultural change. First steps could include ensuring that all Church of England schools admit at least 25% of pupils without recourse to religious belief or practice, as it committed to the Government it would do back in 2006, and for its guidance on admissions to Church of England schools to be revised, so that serving the whole community is set out clearly as a key expression of the mission of it schools.

‘Justin Welby’s position should be noted by other religious groups with regard to their schools too, which should also be open and inclusive, and not serve to ghettoise children of different backgrounds from each other.’

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