On 14th December Baroness Pinnock asked the Government “whether, if a faith school is rated inadequate and is required to become an academy, they will enforce the transfer of church land to the academy trust.” The Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd Steven Conway, asked a follow-up question.
The Lord Bishop of Ely: My Lords, can the Minister expand on the nature and character of the safeguards being provided, given that the prime issue around this land is not the land itself but that it has been given by parishes and generations of generous citizens to guarantee the religious character of those schools?
Lord Nash: I would be delighted to expand on that as the right reverend Prelate mentions. We intend to insert within the articles of association a faith object, which requires the trust to ensure that the character of the church school is maintained. There will be an entrenchment clause, which requires written consent of the diocese for changes to the articles relating to the maintenance of the church school’s religious character—for instance, those relating to local governing bodies or the church’s power to appoint staff. There is a requirement that members and trustees are appointed to provide proportionate diocese representation on the MAT, and to establish a local governing body, and for the creation of a scheme of delegation relating to the religious character of the school agreed between the MAT and the diocese. This will be protected.