Media Centre

Schools Minister praises ‘excellent’ CofE academies

  "We very much value the contribution that Church of England schools and academies make to our education system," said Schools Minister Lord Hill at the Church of England's Academy Family Conference at Lambeth Palace today.  The CofE is currently the largest provider of academies, with the majority replacing failing or vulnerable schools in areas of social deprivation.

The conference, attended by representatives of 36 of the CofE's 42 academies, heard that new
supporting documents have now been agreed with the Department of Education to enable the smooth conversion of CofE schools to academy status.

Lord Hill added:  "Faith schools play a central role in delivering excellent, publicly-funded education in this country. The Government is committed to supporting the establishment of new schools by a range of providers - including faith organisations - to help to raise standards and improve choice.  

"I look forward to seeing more excellent Church of England academies opening over the coming months, working in partnership with other schools to raise aspiration and tackle disadvantage in line with the moral purpose of the Church of England's educational mission."

The Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Revd John Saxbee, Chairman of the National Society Council and Board of Education, who also addressed the conference, said: "Church of England academies and schools seek to provide opportunities for staff and pupils to teach and learn in an environment informed by Christian values, celebrating Christian virtues and promoting attitudes and aptitudes consistent with a good life lived for the common good. The word 'ethos' is often used to capture what is special about our church schools, and although this added value is not unique to schools with C of E in their title, it is something which comes as standard in such schools."

The Revd Jan Ainsworth, the Church of England's director of education, said: "We are very pleased Lord Hill is able to attend our Academy day to see the fruits of our achievements over the past few years. We are now the largest provider of academies, giving us increased opportunities to work in partnership with Government. More than 45,000 pupils from socially disadvantaged communities across the country now receive better schooling from these church academies, delivered within a framework of Christian values." 

ends

Notes  

1. The purpose of the new documentation (memorandums and articles and supporting documents) agreed with the Department of Education is to ensure the continuing development of Christian distinctiveness and connection with the Church of England school family. The documentation will be available at www.education.gov.uk 

2. The Church of England, through its dioceses, sponsors or co-sponsors 42 academies with three more expected to open within the next year. The majority of CofE academies have replaced vulnerable or failing schools. More than 300 CofE schools have currently registered an interest in converting to academy status and 24 have submitted a formal application. 

3. The 36 academies were represented at the conference by either the Principal, a senior staff member, a governor (most likely the Chair) or the Diocesan Director of Education; in some cases all four. 

4. Lord Hill of Oareford was made a life peer and appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools in May 2010.  Before working in the private sector, Lord Hill was an adviser in Whitehall in the 1980s and 90s.