03 July 2013
Education Secretary Michael Gove has praised the
standards and popularity of church schools and urged a continuing
The Education Secretary was taking part in a seminar
at Lambeth Palace on "Church of England: Education and our Future"
hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Listen
Speaking today, Archbishop Justin said:
"The Church of England was at the beginning of
national education of this country and continues to be crucial to
its flourishing. Today, bishops and Diocesan Board of Education
chairs have worked together to develop a vision for the future of
church schools which will continue our mission of transforming
every part of our society.
"It is obviously true that good schools help produce
an educated workforce. But the Christian vision is a far greater
one. It is about setting a framework for children as they learn,
which enables them to be confident when faced with the vast
challenges that our rapidly changing culture brings to us."
The seminar, attended by bishops, Diocesan Board of
Education chairs and other church education leaders from across the
country, marked the launch of a new document; "A Diocesan Board of
Education for the Future".
Professor David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity at
Cambridge University, gave a presentation on the importance of RE
in Church of England schools.
In a statement released in advance of the seminar,
Michael Gove said: "We would not have so many great state schools
in this country without the Church of England. I know the Church
does a wonderful job helping to raise educational standards and in
providing a safe and loving environment for hundreds of thousands
of children. However, there is much more we can do together. I want
the Church to recover the spirit which infused its educational
mission in Victorian times and support more new schools -
especially academies and free schools - to bring educational
excellence to the nation's poorest children."
The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard,
Chair of the Board of Education and National Society, said: "I was
delighted to hear the Secretary of State's enthusiasm and
admiration for church schools today. He reminded us that his own
two children attend one of our schools and he applauded the Church
for being prepared to work in places where others fear to
"At the same time he set us a challenge to raise our game. This
echoes our own determination to make a real step change in the way
we serve our communities, working to the highest standards.
"I was also pleased to hear his public commitment to re-opening the
conversation with the Churches on the future of RE and his
recognition of its importance within the curriculum."
Key facts on church schools:
- Approximately 1 million children attend C of E schools
- About 15 million people alive today went to one
- 25% (4484) of all primary and middle schools are C of E
- 193 (6.25%) secondary schools are C of E
- With more than 50 sponsored and 217 converter
academies, the Church is the biggest provider in England
- 564 independent schools declare themselves to be C of E
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