New Church of England schools are likely to adopt an “open admissions” policy and not give priority to Christian children, according to the church’s chief education officer.
Rev Nigel Genders told the Daily Telegraph that by not reserving places for Christians, the new CofE schools would serve local communities because they would help ease an anticipated shortage of primary school places.
Some analysts predict that an extra 130,000 places will be needed within the next three years, due to a rising birth rate and immigration in some areas. Government regulations stipulate that faith schools opened as part of the free schools and academies programmes can allocate only half their places along religious lines.
Rev Genders said he expected many new CofE schools to go further and operate completely open admissions policies.
He said: “In practice most of the new schools that the Church of England has provided in recent years have all been entirely open admissions policies so that they would serve their local community.
“We are now responding to pressure on pupil places and wanting to serve local areas with the high quality education that our schools provide.
“It is no surprise that they will become more open in their admissions policies to enable them to do so.”
Rev Genders said that the new CofE schools would be “rooted in Christian heritage”, without necessarily having Christian pupils.
Referring to Education Secretary Michael Gove’s insistence on teaching ‘British values’ in the wake of the alleged ‘Trojan Horse’ plot, Rev Genders said the new CofE schools would produce pupils who were “rounded human beings, full of integrity, and passionate about justice.”