Religious choice not taken lightly

5th August 2005 at 01:00
In your article, "Secular schools rush to convert" (TES, July 15), you quoted me as saying "there was no evidence that a Christian ethos alone would raise standards" and "the only reason faith schools often achieved good results was because of their practice of selection from church-going families".

I made neither statement.

You correctly reported that I refused an application for Southborough boys'

school in Kingston upon Thames (not Surrey as you stated) to become a C of E school last year. However, I did so only after full and careful consideration of all the arguments from local people and taking into account the full range of issues. I concluded that, in the particular local circumstances at that time, it was not appropriate for the school to change its legal status. I made no pronouncements about the merits or otherwise of faith schools in general and neither did I rule out a possible future change of status for this one if circumstances changed. It was not a knee-jerk reaction based on a prejudiced view of faith schools.

In the course of my review of the case I noted evidence given to the House of Commons Education and Skills Select Committee, by the National Foundation for Educational Research (Fourth Report, 22nd May 2003, HC 94 par. 66) which referred to the degree of correlation between faith schools and academic achievement.

Alan Parker Schools adjudicator Mowden Hall Staindrop Road, Darlington The editor writes: We acknowledge that the "evidence" Mr Parker refers to was independent research, not his own personal views. But by using this evidence as a basis on which to make his decision about Southborough school (and therefore elevating it to a higher level), it was clearly relevant to quote his report.

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