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Last Updated: Friday, 29 September 2006, 20:14 GMT 21:14 UK
School place church test proposed
Children walking into school
Pupils could be required to attend church twice a month
Fortnightly church attendance could be required in order for children to get into popular faith schools, the Church of England's education head has said.

This could be one way to clarify the "test of faith" families needed to meet, Canon John Hall suggested.

His remarks, reported by the Times Education Supplement, come as 4,500 schools await Church guidance on how to assess parents' religious commitment.

The Church said he had been merely "speculating" how rules could change.

'Transparency needed'

Addressing Anglican head teachers, Canon Hall said: "We want a system that is transparent, easily understood and as straightforward as possible.

"We have been thinking how we can offer guidance that would encourage schools to simplify their practices."

He said the Church was "alarmed" at the elaborate points systems used by some schools, which he said parents found impossible to understand.

A Church spokesman said: "He was simply speculating on the possible shape of church school admission policies. His comments have got to be seen in this context."

A draft admissions code issued for consultation by the government indicated new rules would allow faith schools to ask for evidence of a commitment to a faith.

However, they would not use the degree of that - such as attending church weekly rather than fortnightly - as a basis for selecting their pupils.

The government has also said head teachers should clearly outline how religious affiliation or commitment is to be demonstrated.

The new code, debated by MPs in the spring as part of the government's controversial Education Bill, aims to discourage covert selection of pupils by schools.

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