There is an acute shortage of Christian teachers to fill even Church of England (CofE) positions, a report from the CofE has said.
According to the 49-page document, Training and development partnerships project: needs analysis report, many schools face practical difficulties in finding staff who share the same exclusive practices as does the school.
The report found that, partly because of external pressures on schools to achieve academically, very low numbers of those interviewed/surveyed highlighted the CofE’s mission to the most vulnerable in society through education as a priority.
It said, ‘It was noted by a number of school leaders that leading collective worship was often an area that teachers found difficult’, while it acknowledged the ‘current national shortage of school leaders’, especially in CofE schools.
This has been one of the reasons that faith schools are having to employ more staff from outside of the school’s faith. However, this has raised questions about the appropriateness of current arrangements, whereby state-funded faith schools have exemptions from equality law to be able to discriminate on faith grounds in the recruitment and employment of their teachers.
Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, chairman of the Accord Coalition, said, ‘The growing number of CofE schools that are appointing senior staff from outside the faith is encouraging.
‘It further highlights that faith schools do not need to be able to discriminate by faith to uphold their ethos, and that those schools that operate discriminatory employment policies undermine the standard of their education by narrowing the pool of talent from which their teachers are drawn’.
In September, the Fair Admissions Campaign revealed that, in 2013, CofE secondary schools in England that did not select children by religion admitted 1.4 per cent fewer pupils entitled to Free School Meals than would be expected if the schools admitted children living locally.
In stark contrast, those CofE schools that sought to select all their pupils by faith, if sufficiently oversubscribed, admitted 34.6 per cent fewer children entitled to Free School Meals than if they admitted local children.