Church school admission plan hailed
Proposals to make Church of England schools admit more pupils who do not follow the faith have been widely welcomed.
Calling for a major shake-up of admissions rules, the Rt Rev John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, said policies which favour religious children should be changed, even if it affects a school's exam results.
He urged headteachers to reserve no more than 10% of places for youngsters who are practising Anglicans.
In an interview with the Times Educational Supplement, Rev Pritchard, who is chairman of the Church of England's board of education, said: "Every school will have a policy that has a proportion of places for church youngsters... 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%."
The move would be a major shift for the Church, and it could also lead to an end to the practice of parents attending church to secure their child a school place.
Under current admissions rules faith schools can choose how to allocate places, for example to followers of their faith, if they are over-subscribed.
The Church of England has around 4,800 schools, and the majority are primaries. It is believed that around half of CofE schools are voluntary aided, which means they set their own admissions policies.
Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, chairman of Accord, which campaigns to end religious discrimination in school staffing and admissions, said: "This is a very welcome step that attempts to help rectify current policy, which means that religion and discrimination in schools have become almost synonymous.
"Schools should be inclusive and tolerant and no state-funded school should be allowed to discriminate on the grounds of religion for any of their teacher posts or any pupil places."