A wide angle view of a group of high school students who are rushing to their next class

More good school places proposal

The Department for Education has announced that it has unveiled proposals to create more good school places, with data showing that more than half of schools are now academies.

Proposals on how this will be done relate to the lifting of the faith schools cap, which applies to the new faith free schools, with a view to opening more special faith-based academies. This will see high-performing faith school providers able to create more places, whilst creating strong multi-academy trusts around the country.

According to the government, faith school providers such as the Church of England and the Catholic Church have a strong record in the delivery of high-quality education, however with the cap in place, they are hamstrung as they become oversubscribed. By lifting the cap, they wouldn’t necessarily be required to prioritise pupils based on their faith for 50% of places.

Faith school quote

Gillian Keegan, Secretary of State for Education, said:

“As someone who attended a faith school as a child and having worked closely with our leading faith groups as Education Secretary, I’ve seen first-hand how their values and standards so often give young people a brilliant start in life.

“Faith groups run some of the best schools in the country, including in some of the most disadvantaged areas, and it’s absolutely right we support them to unleash that potential even further – including through the creation of the first ever faith academies for children with special educational needs.

“Our plan to give every child a world-class education is working, with 90% of schools now good or outstanding up from just 68% in 2010, but we will keep raising that bar until every school is as good as the best.”

The consultation will allow the government to explore how the benefits of academy trusts can be harnessed, with a particular focus on improving the provision for children with special educational needs. The quality of education that is provided by multi-academy trusts, together with the track record of quality within faith-based schools, will see an emphasis on how more special faith-based academies can be opened.

Standing in the way of this ambition is the fact that, currently, special schools opening as academies cannot be designated with faith status, however the reforms and consultation that come with this announcement will remove that barrier.

Commenting on this development, Chief Education Officer at the Church of England, Nigel Genders, said:

“This broad package is good news because it will mean more people can benefit from the education provided by Church of England schools which is so highly valued by parents, and children and young people.

“By enabling Church of England special schools, we can serve the needs of more children in more communities, irrespective of their faith background.

“With over 50% of schools now being academies, it is vital to continue to develop the system to enable schools of all types to be part of a trust with a shared purpose and vision for the common good.”


Image credit: iStock


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