Academy switch for large numbers of faith schools
When the programme to encourage schools to switch to academy status was first unveiled, many faith schools had at first been reluctant to pursue the changes.
However, to date nearly 800 Church of England and Catholic schools have registered an interest, with nearly 140 making the switch by early November 2011. In addition, 34 applications from C of E and Catholic schools, 19 from other Christian denominations and 14 from Jewish faith schools have been approved.
The reasoning behind this is widely thought to be linked to the semi-autonomy allowed to academies. Under the new Act, schools will still be state funded, but will not fall within the local authority remit. They will be allowed to set their own pay and conditions for staff, are not obliged to follow the national curriculum, and will now have access to funds which the local authority would previously have spent on their behalf.
However, this switch is not without its critics, with some believing that an “evangelical approach to education” will emerge, as schools are no longer bound by the national curriculum and other regulations previously covering state funded schools.
Of the 20,000 state funded schools in England, around one third of these are faith schools, so this shift in acceptance of the programme could help the government towards its aim of switching all schools to academies.
Date: 11th January, 2012
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