AN education authority has given the go ahead to county schools that want to be taken over by the Church of England.
Surrey has said it will consider applications from any - but preferably not all - its schools to become Church-run with voluntary-aided status.
Several schools in the county have been taken over and four more are awaiting final approval.
The Guildford diocese has also been pioneering a new "affiliated" status for Surrey schools interested in closer links with the Church of England. Such schools retain their current county status, but receive guidance and support from the Church on religious education, collective worship, pastoral, moral and spiritual issues.
Nationally, the Church of England claims it has received a dozen or more enquiries from schools interested in changing status. It believes there is considerable demand for church education from parents, fuelled in part by the academic success of both CofE and Roman Catholic schools.
Church schools made up half the top performers in last summer's annual tests and are frequently oversubscribed.
A Surrey spokeswoman said any decisions on changing status would have to consider the needs of the community. "It is a school decision, in partnership with demand from parents, and requests in conjunction with the diocese. We don't play an active role, but we're not against it either. It's whatever is to the benefit of pupils, parents and the school."