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Church of England seeks to privilege clergy over local parents in school admissions system

The General Synod voted to secure special access to schools for CofE clergy

The Church of England has demanded special privileges for members of the clergy in gaining access to their local schools, after a motion was passed at its General Synod on Sunday. The motion, which was tabled by the Revd Tiffer Robinson from St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, asks that members of the clergy who move from one parish to another are able to apply for and gain places at schools in the local area prior to moving there, a provision not enjoyed by other parents except those in the military or civil service.

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Jay Harman commented, ‘The Church of England’s request for yet more special privileges in the education system, explicitly at the expense of other parents, is as brazen as it is ridiculous. A quarter of state-funded schools in England are controlled by the Church of England, many of which impose discriminatory admission arrangements which already limit the access of local parents to their local schools. The two-thirds of state-funded schools in England that do not have a religious character are nonetheless required by law to hold daily acts of compulsory Christian worship, and as a result of the academisation process the Church of England is continuing to gain control over hundreds of previously secular non-church schools.

‘Ours is an education system that privileges religion more than any other democracy in the world. In an increasingly secular and non-religious country, the Government ought to be taking steps to reduce this privilege, not increase it, so we hope the Education Secretary will reject this proposal in no uncertain terms.’

Despite the motion passing, some within the Church have recognised the inappropriateness of the Synod’s request. Writing in a paper accompanying the motion, the General Synod’s secretary general William Nye admitted that it would be ‘difficult to persuade either Government or the general population that the State should give particular benefits to clergy families.’ The Archbishop of York made a similar warning, stating that it would cause a ‘pastoral nightmare’ if children of the clergy could jump the queue ahead of those who had lived in the area for some time.

Notes

For further comment or information please contact Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Jay Harman on jay@humanism.org.uk or 0207 324 3078.

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

Humanists UK recently changed its name from the British Humanist Association: https://humanism.org.uk/2017/05/22/bha-becomes-humanists-uk/

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