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Adventist secondary wins funding

The Government's decision to fund a Seventh Day Adventist church secondary opens the way for a wider range of Christian religious groups to make a case for their schools to join the state sector.

The 140-pupil John Loughborough school in north London is to become grant-maintained in September, following in the wake of one Jewish and two Muslim schools that were granted public funding earlier this year.

The school, whose pupils are predominantly black, was on the verge of being granted state aid before the general election. It has a reputation for discipline and has attracted a number of pupils who were excluded from other schools.

The Adventist church has other schools with a majority of white children, but the intake at John Loughborough reflects the congregation in Haringey. It is an Evangelical church that rejects the theory of evolution and encourages its followers not to smoke or drink.

However, pupils do not have to be members of the church, though it give pound;300,000 a year to the school, partly to assist parents with the pound;2,145 annual fees.

According to Dr Clinton Valley, the headteacher, parents particularly value the staff's sensitivity and understanding in dealing with children from ethnic minorities.

"Our teachers are from similar backgrounds and are better able to interpret the behaviour of black pupils. We do not believe in black schools. The fact that pupils are predominantly black is because we offer a life-raft, but the ship needs fixing," he says.

Exam results have been improving, but the size of the school makes comparisons difficult. The latest table shows that seven of the school's 17 15-year-olds gained five or more higher grade GCSEs.

The church intends to double the intake when the school becomes grant-maintained in September. It will remain grant-maintained until legislation on the structure of schools currently going through Parliament reaches the statute book. It can then choose between aided, foundation and community status.

John Loughborough will be the first Christian school outside the traditional denominations to receive state funding.

The Seventh Day Adventist Church claims 18 million followers worldwide and a British congregation of 25,000.

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