Friday, January 18, 2008
The Government has decided against backing more faith schools, the Children, Schools and Families Secretary, Ed Balls, told MPs.
In what is being seen as one of the most significant policy shifts of the post-Tony Blair era in education, he told a Commons select committee: "It is not the policy of the Government nor my department to expand the number of faith schools. We're not leading a drive for more faith schools."
His comments are seen as a major departure from the stance taken by Mr Blair and one of Mr Balls' predecessors, the staunchly Catholic Ruth Kelly. Mr Blair made it plain that he wanted to see faith groups coming forward to sponsor his flagship academies – set up to replace struggling inner-city schools – on the grounds that faith schools had better exam results than the national average and could pass on their expertise.