Archbishop stands up for church schools after ‘Trojan Horse’ row

The Archbishop of Canterbury has defended Church schools in the wake of the “Trojan Horse” allegations in a speech in which he warned against the dangers of using social media to replace “reflective comment” with “instant reaction.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

The Most Rev Justin Welby said “not one” church school had been affected by the recent problems highlighted in Ofsted reports which placed five Birmingham schools in special measures following allegations of a takeover plot in the city’s schools by hardline Muslims.

He told a meeting of nearly 700 MPs, peers, church and charity representatives, including Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband, at the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast, that church schools stand for qualities including “tolerance and acceptance”.

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“In this country alone we educate nearly a million children in the Church of England, another half a million through the Roman Catholic schools, and, let me say, no recent problems were in one of the church schools,” he said.

“It is the church schools that stand for tolerance, acceptance, reception, generosity, open-handedness. Education is something which the Church has done for centuries, which it held in its monasteries when the rest of the world had given up on it in western Europe, and we do it today.”

In his speech, Archbishop Welby warned the Church against an “obsession” with internal issues and hoped for the final approval of women bishops when the Church of England General Synod meets next month in York.

The archbishop added that the Church faced a new phenomenon brought about by the revolution in communications, saying: “Instant reaction has replaced reflective comment.

“That is a reality that you deal with in politics and it demands a new reality of ways in which we accept one another, love each other, pray for each other. The best answer to a complex issue on which one has heard a sound-bite... is not always given in 140 characters.”