Salvation may be at hand

24th October 1997 at 01:00
The Government is expected to announce next week that it will take account of the problems of church schools that do not want to opt for foundation status.

Stephen Byers, the standards minister, is meeting diocesan authorities to discuss the prospect of a category that would allow voluntary-aided schools to retain links with their dioceses.

The arrangements set out in the White Paper assume that church schools will move to the aided category. However, voluntary-controlled schools may not be in a position to pay the 15 per cent maintenance costs required from those opting for aided status.

The House of Bishops this week expressed its unease. The chairman of its board of education, Bishop David Ripon, said: "We will be looking for proof that church schools are indeed safe in the hands of New Labour."

The final shape of the Education Bill that will legislate for the re-organisation of schools is likely to become clear in the next few weeks. The Commons resumes next week and the first reading of the Bill is due on November 18. The first opportunity MPs will have to debate the Bill will be at the beginning of December.

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