When I heard the Bishop of Oxford, the Chairman of the Church of England’s Board of Education on BBC Radio 4 this morning I couldn’t believe what he was advocating for church schools. His views first appeared in an interview for the Times Education Supplement. In the future he wants only 10% of places in Church Schools to be reserved for practising Anglicans: "What I would be saying is that number ought to be minimised because our primary function and our privilege is to serve the wider community. Ultimately I hope we can get the number of reserved places right down to 10 percent. It goes back to what we see the mission of the church as being. I don't think the mission generally is about collecting nice Christians into safe places." He said policies which favour practising Anglicans should be changed even if it affects a school's exam results.
I have no problem with Church Schools admitting children who are not Christians but I do have a problem when it comes to denying places to children of practising Christians. And that is what will inevitably happen if the 10% target which the Bishop of Oxford suggests is ever implemented. The whole point of “faith” schools is to be places of excellent education for the children of people of faith, open to others if there are places available.
Muslims, Sikhs and Jews have their own schools. Would the Bishop, even in his wildest dreams, suggest that a Muslim, Sikh or Jewish school should admit only 10% of their particular faith and allocate the remaining 90% to non-believers? Of course not and neither would they do so.
I know from practical experience the lengths that some parents will go to to get their children into a Church School.
It is only the Church of England that could come up with such a crackpot scheme. The problem is, the Bishop of Oxford may be taken seriously.