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Up to seven in 10 Church of England schools could become academies over the next five years, it has been suggested

Up to seven in 10 Church of England schools could become academies over the next five years, it has been suggested

Up to seven in 10 Church of England schools could become academies over the next five years, it has been suggested

Thousands of faith schools could become academies, giving them stronger powers over their curriculum and funding, it has been suggested.

Up to seven in 10 Church of England schools could switch over the next five years, according to the Rt Rev John Pritchard, the Bishop of Oxford.

He told the Times Educational Supplement (TES): "In the long run there will be a major shift to academies because it is what the Government is determined shall be. The local education authority is going to wither on the vine in many cases.

"We will be part of that whole movement but have to make sure there is still a family relationship (between schools) as we go through this process.

"It may be that 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."

As local authorities face funding cuts, the Church could also become more involved in providing a range of services to non-faith schools, as well as their own, Bishop Pritchard said.

Last month Bishop Pritchard, chairman of the Church of England's board of education, said he wants headteachers to reserve no more than 10% of places for practising Anglicans.

The move would be a major shift for the Church and could end the practice of parents attending church only to secure their child a school place. But the bishop said large-scale conversion to academy status could make moves to limit places for religious families more difficult.

He told TES: "One danger is that a school may be held in thrall to particular governors who want to maintain the purity of the school stock. I would hope that the advice we give will encourage good honest discussion about what our schools are for."

Academies are semi-independent state schools which are not under local authority control and therefore have more power over areas such as funding, curriculum and staff pay and conditions.

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