It is good to see the Church of England's inclusive schools policy being confirmed today. The BBC reports:
New Church of England schools should offer at least a quarter of places to pupils from outside the Christian faith, the government has been told.
The chairman of the Church's board of education, the Rt Rev Kenneth Stevenson, makes the pledge in a letter to Education Secretary Alan Johnson.
The Rt Rev Stevenson said:
Part of a school's Christian commitment is to reach out, to include, not with the purpose of indoctrination but in order to offer education clearly based on Christian values to the wider community.
This follows on from the Dearing report in 2001 which was endorsed by the church's General Synod. It specifically ruled out "bussing in" children from other areas to "exclusive" Church of England schools.
I am proud of this inclusive policy from the Church of England. It is right to have Church of England schools. It is right that they do not have a "purpose of indoctrination". It is also right to make them readily accessible to all children in the local community and to "reserve" a proportion of places for those outside the Christian faith.
Indeed, this policy of inclusiveness is already clear in some areas where some Church of England schools have a very high proportion of their pupils who are Muslims. For example, the DfES reports:
Sir John Cass Foundation School in inner London is a Church of England School, but has an 80 per cent Muslim intake. Its Ofsted report praised positive attitudes to learning and noted that respect for each other was central to its whole ethos.