Church in call for 100 more schools

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The Independent Online

An extra 100 Church of England secondary schools, many in inner cities, should be set up within five years to meet huge parental demand, a report for the church said yesterday.

An extra 100 Church of England secondary schools, many in inner cities, should be set up within five years to meet huge parental demand, a report for the church said yesterday.

The cost could be about £200m for new buildings alone, according to the interim report to the Archbishops' Council from Lord Dearing's review group.

Local authorities said so many new church schools were unnecessary and the church should take care not to upset the balance between church and state schools. At present, there are 140 Church of England secondaries and 40 middle schools which take both primary and secondary pupils.

Although the schools would have a "substantial core" of Christian teachers and pupils, they would also welcome pupils from all backgrounds and faiths, the report says.

Lord Dearing, a former government adviser on schools, says that there are five times more places in church primaries than in secondaries. His report points to "evidence of widespread unsatisfied demand" for places. In seven of the 44 dioceses there is no church secondary school and in seven there is only one.

The group is considering whether there should be a central fund to help dioceses set up the schools and ministers promised yesterday to consider helping to meet the costs through a loan facility available under the 1944 Education Act.

Graham Lane, education committee chairman of the Local Government Association, said local authorities would be meeting Lord Dearing to discuss the plans. "This has to be handled extremely sensitively or the balance established by the 1944 Education Act will be upset," he said.

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