Parents Put Their Faith in Church Schools; EDUCATION: 'It's a Positive Problem of Over-Subscription That We've Had for Some Time'
Byline: TOMOS LIVINGSTONE
YOUNG professional parents are turning to the Church in a bid to secure a good education for their children.
Church schools in Wales have become more popular than ever, with some massively over-subscribed as parents choose to attend church each Sunday in a bid to ensure their children win a coveted place.
The number of pupils in church secondary schools has increased by more than 10pc in the past 10 years while the numbers attending church primary schools are also rising.
Professor Leslie Francis, director of the Welsh National Centre for Religious Education of the University of Wales, Bangor, said his research revealed parents were becoming increasingly interested in the values of church schools. This went beyond a simple desire to get better exam results, he said.
Dr Leonard Parfitt, head teacher of the Bishop of Llandaff Church in Wales School, Cardiff, said it was difficult to pinpoint one reason why church schools had become more popular.
He said, "One reason is they tend to be more successful, although I suspect if there was a choice between a successful school and a less successful church school, parents would choose the former."
His school, which had more than 250 applications for 180 places available for next year, asks parents to list their local parish priest as a referee if they wish to send their children there.
Dr Parfitt said, "People who have been attending church for a long time are more likely to get in than someone who has had a miraculous conversion."
The National Assembly's position is that there will be no active drive to promote more faith schools. Any proposal to create more schools would involve a public consultation, with the Education Minister having the final say.
David Stone, head teacher of Corpus Christi Catholic High School in Cardiff, said there had been growing interest in his school.
He said, "I think parents look for a school with an explicit set of values, a school that has specific moral values. …