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Tuesday, 11 January, 2000, 19:59 GMT
Church plans to run more schools
ambleside school
Church schools often produce excellent results
The Church of England plans to expand the number of church schools to ease the "scramble for places" by parents.

The church feels that, in particular, it should double the number of secondary schools it controls, over the next 10 years.

The aims were set out after the first meeting of the Church Schools Review Group. It is the first review of CofE schools for 30 years, and aims to report in 18 months' time.

Canon John Hall, general secretary of the Church of England's Board of Education, said: "One of the objectives is to respond to parental demand for places in church schools, so that there isn't the scramble for places by parents who are currently, effectively, rejected by the church."

One way forward would be to take on local authority-run schools judged to be failing their pupils, which were in danger of being closed.

The review is being chaired by former government education adviser Lord Dearing.

'Big disparity'

He said it would also consider standards in church schools, admissions procedures and how to persuade young Christians to find a vocation in teaching.

lord dearing
Lord Dearing: "Not about indoctrination"
But the "outstanding fact" was that there were 4,550 church primary schools and only 198 secondary schools.

"Anyone coming new to the world of CofE schools must be surprised to see their very uneven spread and the big disparity in the provision of places between primary and secondary schools," Lord Dearing said.

"We are not in the business of indoctrination nor do we see it as the role of church schools to convert people, but to offer a Christian life which we hope some children will think is very much for them."

Making more schools into church schools would be an issue for discussion with local education authorities and others, Lord Dearing said.

A quarter of all state primary schools and 6% of all state secondary schools are Church of England schools - attended by 18% of all primary pupils and 5% of all secondary pupils in England.

Church schools are financed and maintained by local education authorities, as with other state schools, but their assets - the buildings and land - are held and administered by trustees.

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11 Jan 00 | Education
Sunday school in steep decline
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