Hinds calls for more faith schools to become academies

Education secretary makes academy push during roundtable discussion with religious leaders

John Roberts

Damian Hinds wants more faith schools to become academies

Damian Hinds is urging faith leaders to convert more of their schools into academies.

The education secretary will tell a round table of representatives from all major faiths today that becoming an academy will place “freedom into the hands of school leaders and help schools to work together to achieve more than they can alone”.

Representatives from all major faiths will attend the meeting, including individuals from the Church of England, Muslim, Catholic, Sikh, Jewish and Hindu faiths, and from the Methodist Church.

They will be joined by leaders of faith-based multi-academy trusts – Hamid Patel of Star Academy Trust, Nitesh Gor of Avanti Schools Trust and Dr Brinder Mohan Singh of Nishkam School Trust.

Mr Hinds will highlight the role faith organisations have had in the academies programme since 2010, with more than a quarter of state-funded faith schools already having academy status and more than 100 faith free schools open or in the pipeline.

He will say: “The diversity of schools in this country is one our education system's most valuable assets, and faith schools play a pivotal role in that.

"They have led the way in embracing our reforms, with innovative free schools and high-performing academies, taking advantage of the freedom and autonomy those choices provide.

"Faith schools make up one-third of the schools in England. I want to see even more faith schools enjoying the benefits of academy conversion, with even more faith groups using the exciting opportunity the free schools route provides.

"In doing so, the leaders of these schools will ensure they are the ones making the right decisions for their pupils and for their communities, as I firmly believe they should be."

Director of the Catholic Education Service Paul Barber said: “The Catholic Church has been a longstanding government partner in the provision of education, and today’s meeting highlights the continued strong working relationship we enjoy with the department.

“Nearly a quarter of all Catholic schools in England are academies and we welcome the continued support of the secretary of state for Catholic dioceses and their academisation plans.”

Earlier this year Mr Hinds announced that he was retaining the faith cap on new free schools which means they can only admit 50 per cent of their pupils on the basis of faith.

He had been expected to scrap the cap following calls from the Catholic Church for it to be removed.

Instead, he also announced plans to provide funding – from the free school programme – to help pay for new voluntary aided schools which can select all of their pupils on religious grounds.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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