(Church Times) Service won’t win points at C of E schools

Governors who draw up ad­missions policies for the 2111 Church of England voluntary aided schools are to be told that where there are quotas for children from church families, places should be allocated only on attendance at church.

Giving extra points to parents who undertake extra duties, such as church-cleaning or bell-ringing, could discriminate against families where both parents work outside the home, new advice on admissions from the Board of Education says.

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6 comments on “(Church Times) Service won’t win points at C of E schools

  1. Terry Tee says:

    I do not know quite what to say here because as a RC I try not to comment on Anglican affairs. But this is such a bizarre development that it leaves me speechless. It seems to be giving in to the relentless secularist lobby in Britain which greatly dislikes faith schools, not least because (a) such schools succeed in impoverished areas where state schools do not; and (b) people flock to send their children to them. Oh for some more backbone …

  2. kmh1 says:

    Bishop John Pritchard actually wanted to RESTRICT the number of churchgoers in church schools!
    The Cof E is much less at risk from secularists than from the clueless clots at the helm.

  3. Teatime2 says:

    This is precisely why having religious schools as part of the public school system is problematic. (I understand that “public school” may mean something different in the UK but I’m using the American understanding of the phrase.) It’s also why religious school educators I know are very leery of a voucher system here in the States.

    Frankly, I’m surprised that something like this or more hasn’t happened much sooner in the UK. When you’re part of the government’s business of education, you’d think that equal access is expected. The popular charter schools here use a lottery system for admittance to give everyone an equal chance, regardless of ability, academic success, or talent. If religious schools were added to “public education,” then I’d expect it would be similar and they could not give preference to church members. Perhaps they could have a certain number of spaces for church members but I’d imagine that AT LEAST half of the enrollment would have to be equal access, by lottery.

    The other side of the coin, too, is that when religious schools are independent, they can be selective and are not bound by laws and mandates. For instance, special education is an expensive mandate; church schools do not have to accommodate special education students. And most won’t admit them.

    I think this is a sad development for the C of E but, from an American perspective, not a surprising one. All religious schools in England, not just C of E, should be making plans to opt out of the government scheme if they are not willing or able to accommodate. I’m wondering if the C of E is seeing the hand-writing on the wall and making some concessions now to avoid worse conflict and government accommodation later.

  4. Terry Tee says:

    TT2, while I support the principle of separation of church and state, the issue is not capable of being reduced in the lines you have traced. Take the question of diversity: as supporters of state schools point out, often state schools are found to be monochrome, not least in areas of white flight, where you can find (eg Bradford in Yorkshire, Whitechapel of London, etc) state schools that are nearly 100% Muslim. By contrast church schools are often pleasingly integrated. A Catholic school, for example, may be 100% Catholic, but that will include a whole range of people with family roots in Nigeria, Colombia, Poland and the Philippines, to name a few. There is another issue which you do not really tackle – the question of whether the faith element is an essential part of the success of these schools. Teachers have told me time and again that church schools have a much better ethos of self-discipline, courtesy and consideration of others. This in turn feeds into academic success because the teachers are not spending half their time in firefighting. Coincidence? Or inseparable from the fact that these schools have a Christian ethos. And the C of E wants to water this down???

  5. Terry Tee says:

    AAArgh. I have succeeded in writing the exact opposite of what I intended. In the second sentence above please read as follows: as supporters of church schools point out …

  6. Teatime2 says:

    Terry (heh, just realized we’re both TTs!),
    It’s quite different over here. I attended both public and RC schools and I’ve taught in both public and RC schools. Oddly enough, I experienced worse behavior in the RC schools, both as a student and as a teacher. My mum always volunteered at whatever school I attended and she was astonished by how poorly behaved and impolite the RC students were. It was eye-opening to me as a student, as well.

    The RC schools were where the kids with money and discipline problems went. (I’m not picking on the RCs; at that time, no other denominations operated schools where I lived.) We don’t have many Eton-type schools in the U.S., so if you didn’t want your kid to attend with the common rabble, you sent them to RC schools. The public schools weren’t shy about expelling students, either, for repeatedly vile behavior so there were two options if you got thrown out. Reform school or Catholic school. Those with some money and pull, who could convince the sisters or priests to accept their children, chose the latter. It made what should have been a good learning environment troublesome.

    Twenty years later, when I taught at an RC high school, I was rather surprised to find that things hadn’t changed much from when I was a kid. The discipline problems were astonishing. These kids felt privileged and untouchable. The worst offenders knew that if mummy and daddy simply wrote a sizable donation check to the school much would be overlooked and forgiven. Those kids set one of their school buses on fire, sprayed graffiti on the buildings, and even killed a deer, hauled its carcass into the school courtyard and wrote slurs against faculty, staff, and other students in its blood. They spread vicious rumors about teachers to get them fired, as well.

    After two years of low pay and much disillusionment, I left to return to public school teaching, where the kids were a little rough around the edges but desperate for good role models to respect. They and their parents were grateful for everything you did for them and it was just so rewarding to teach kids who knew that education was everything, even though it took more patience and time to get through to them. They didn’t have parents who could set them up in business or simply write checks for whatever they required.

    There is an atmosphere of privilege in American religious schools. Most are running on a shoestring and have to charge high tuition fees to operate. If they do offer scholarships to the less-advantaged, they can’t afford many and it’s still difficult for the lower- and middle-class students to fit in. There are also cliques of parents who often aren’t very welcoming to parents who aren’t elite. It made me both sad and angry to listen to the frustration of non-wealthy parents who felt shut out.

    The cities I’ve lived in have made it a point to try to ensure the public schools AREN’T monochrome. It started, of course, with the desegregation of public schools through busing. School zoning lines are drawn to achieve socio-economic balance.

    As for faith in schools, well, I live in the South. Heh, we have prayer before football games and at the school board meetings. The high school even had Bible Club, taught by an evangelical faculty member after school. That’s just the way it is, unless or until it’s challenged in court. Most often, it’s not. I know the experience is quite different in the North and has changed from when I was raised because, back then, God was indeed mentioned and we learned to sing hymns in music class.

    We have a very different educational system here in the U.S. I really like the charter school ideals and discipline. In a system without much for “the elite” and with the high cost of religious schools (and astronomical cost of the fewer and far between prep schools), egalitarian school choice for the masses probably lies with the charter schools. The religious schools, because of cost, will remain primarily the domain of the upper- and upper-middle class.