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Secretary of State for Education calls for continuing partnership with CofE

Education Secretary Michael Gove has praised the standards and popularity of church schools and urged a continuing partnership.

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 here

EdSec Michael Gove, Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop of Oxford

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 tread.

"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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