Majority of top-performing primaries are faith schools

The latest league tables have revealed that over half of the top-performing primaries in England are faith schools.

The Department for Education figures show that 530 faith schools came among the top 1,000 schools reaching expected Government standards for eleven-year-olds.

Among the top ten primary schools, five were Roman Catholic or Church of England.

Whole community

The results come as a new report on religion in public life has recommended a number of measures, including ending religious selection for faith schools.

Responding to the league table results, the British Humanist Association claimed that faith schools prioritise their league table rankings over accepting pupils from less affluent backgrounds.

But the C of E’s Chief Education Officer Nigel Genders pointed out that Church of England schools “are there for the whole community and serve children of all backgrounds”.

Christian ethos

He said the success of its primary schools can be attributed to their values.

“We believe that the commitment to the flourishing of every child and the strong Christian ethos of our schools drives high standards and performance but, more importantly, promotes the well-being of all the children we serve”, he explained.

The Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life also proposed scrapping Christian assemblies – its report has been met with criticism including from a former chairman of the National Curriculum Council.

Role model

David Pascall spoke personally of the benefits of the Church of England foundation of a school where he has been the chairman of governors. He explained in The Daily Telegraph that 90 per cent of the pupils at the school in Tower Hamlets are Muslim, yet they still attend Christian assemblies.

“The school is a role model, for other schools but also for society in properly presenting British values.

“To recommend abolishing all of this demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of an important component of British society today”, he added.

Fuzzy hope

Columnist Allison Pearson warned: “If you shut down faith schools, most of which are CofE or Catholic, you not only deny children one of the best free educations in the country, you block up the well of Christian teaching for good”, she said.

Pearson also criticised the outlook of the report, saying: “There appears to be some kind of fuzzy hope that, with Christianity marginalised, we will create a more harmonious society. Experience elsewhere suggests exactly the opposite.”