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Thousands of CoE schools to become Academies

More than 3,360 Church of England faith school are to convert to Academy status.

The Church estimated that 70% of its 4,800 state schools will become academies within the next five years.

There are currently 629 academies, with 473 schools in the process of converting. The addition of 3,360 Church of England schools will bring the number of academies in England to more than 4,300.

One of the key factors behind the announcement was a deal worked out with the Government that will ensure that the land the Church of England schools are built in will remain in diocese hands, rather than revert to individual governing bodies.

The Right Rev John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, said: “In the long run there will be a major shift to academies because it is what the Government is determined shall be.

“It may be there are schools that are traditionally outside the church family that say ‘you are providing the kind of thing we need’ and they would want to relate to us in an affiliated way. It’s all to play for.”

The Church expects that many smaller primary schools will form joint ‘academy trusts’.

But Keith Porteous Wood, director of the National Secular Society, said: “A mass conversion of faith schools into entirely self-governing academies freed from the moderating influence of local authorities will be the churches’ dream and most parents’ nightmare. It is a betrayal of the nation’s children to give the churches virtual control of education without having to pay a penny.”

The main teachers’ unions, the NUT and NASUWT, are campaigning against the Government’s policy to encourage schools to opt out of local authority control.

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