The Government’s new guidelines on school admissions have dealt a severe blow to Christian education in Britain.
Under a new quota system, Church of England schools may start turning away Anglicans to make room for a more ‘diverse’ student body.
From now on, least a quarter of places at all new schools will be for designated “other pupils”, according to guidelines outlined by the denomination yesterday.
The reform of school admissions will also affect Roman Catholic schools, which will in future need to prove that their intakes reflect the social nature of the areas from which they recruit.
The changes have been prompted by the Government’s admission code going through Parliament.
It imposes a ban on the interviewing of pupils and requires faith schools to be more open about the criteria they use to measure religious commitment.
Alan Johnson, the new Education Secretary, grinned from ear to ear as he savoured the joint statement forced from the two congregations, calling it “a step forward for cohesion”. It is quietly whispered about the Civil Service that Ruth Kelly was dead set against the idea.
“A good education is one of the best ways of building understanding of the many issues that unite us as opposed to the views that divide,” he said. “We want to preserve the special contribution faith schools make to raising educational standards and offering choice.
“Church of England schools have an excellent record of providing high quality education and serving disadvantaged communities and Catholic schools are among the most ethnically and socially diverse in the country.”
Having made the admission that your average Catholic school is more diverse than a secular school, it does rather lay bare his, and Labour’s, ambition to leech out any hint of Christianity, and to co-op the schools into the PC mass of the “multi-cultural” society.
About a third of all mainstream state schools have a religious character. Most of these are from the major Christian denominations, with 4,600 Church of England and 2,000 Catholic schools. The change will not apply to existing schools.
In an earlier speech Dr Rowan Williams, the Grand Celtic Vizier of Canterbury, said there was need for a “clear public commitment” to integrate children of all faiths and guarantee places for local children.
He said that in some areas, Muslim children were as likely as others to be educated in church schools because such institutions were trusted by minority religious communities.
The C of E has said some 200 new Anglican secondary school may be opened under the plans.
When asked if the Government would be forcing all new Muslim schools to admit 25% non-Muslim students, Mr Johnson responded “Are you drunk?”.