The Church of England and Parental Choice

The Economist this week explores parental choice in England, which the magazine asserts “is a keystone of the government’s education policy.” But this year, the nation’s education secretary wants to overhaul the “rule book” for how those choices are governed; a third of secondary-school age children in London failed to get their first choice of school this year.

But what stood out most was this fact: The Church of England runs 4,800 state-funded schools, and reformers there see these schools as an avenue for greater choice among low-income pupils:

The church runs 4,800 state-funded schools, of which about half are permitted to reserve some or all of their places for children from churchgoing families (which tend to be better-off). Each is free to determine how many places to retain for regular worshippers but Bishop Pritchard thinks they should limit the proportion to about 10%. If his ideas gain clout within the church, that could greatly improve the lot of the poor.