Growing numbers of Church of England schools are failing to appoint heads of the same faith, according to a study.
A new Church of England report into the training needs of its schools reveals “a significant shortage of leaders [nationally] which is felt even more acutely” by church schools.
“There was clear consensus across school leaders and diocesan officials that recruitment of school leaders with the necessary understanding and commitment is proving increasingly difficult and sometimes impossible,” says the report.
“Many dioceses have become more flexible around the requirement that headteachers need to be practising Christians and can reference successful heads who are from other faiths or none at all but are able to maintain a clear vision for education in line with the [church’s] overall vision,” it said.
“However, in the long term there is a risk to the vision if sufficient numbers of teachers and school leaders with a deep understanding of and engagement with the Church of England cannot be deployed.”
Around one million children attend the church’s 4,500 primary and 200 secondary schools - which are suffering from the same reluctance of suitable headship candidates to put their names forward to take up the top job.
Rev Nigel Genders, the church’s chief education officer, said parents wanted to send their children to C of E schools “because they recognise in them something of the broad vision we have for education”.
However, heads wanted more help and better training to enable them to promote the church’s vision for education.
“Church schools continue to be oversubscribed and popular with parents and pupils, opting for a Christian-based education whatever their faith,” he added.
“Both community and church schools increasingly testify to difficulties in recruiting headteachers and our recent consultation has shown a strong desire for more support in training new leaders.”
Rabbi Dr Jonathan Roman, who chairs the Accord Coalition - which campaigns against discrimination by faith schools, said it was “encouraging” that more Church of England schools wre appointing senior staff from outside the faith.
However, he said it questioned whether faith schools still needed to operate “discriminatory” employment practices - giving priority to applicants from their own faith.
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