THE Lancashire Church of England Diocese has backed comments in a national newspaper that church schools should operate an ‘open-door’ policy.

The diocese said that the policy already exists following comments by the CofE’s chief education officer to a daily newspaper this week.

Rev Nigel Genders said that more schools would operate open admissions policies to ensure that they service their local community.

The open doors policy has been backed by school governors in East Lancashire.

Judith Addison, who is a governor at St Christopher’s CE High School, Accrington, and Oswaldtwistle schools St Paul’s CE Primary and St Andrew’s Primary, has lent her support.

She said: “I think it’s a good thing that children who go to Church of England schools get to meet other children from a wide range of backgrounds. I support the policy and I think that it’s good for schools.” Fiona Pattison, headteacher at St James’ Primary School, Clitheroe, said: “We are an inclusive school and welcome everyone who walks through our doors whether they are of Christian faith, other faiths or no faith.

“We serve the community as well as the church.”

A spokesperson for Blackburn Diocesan Board of Education said: “Despite the impression given by the story in The Daily Telegraph there is no new policy for admissions. Neither is a new policy being mooted.

“As the established church, the majority of CofE schools have open admissions and are open to all. However, many church schools are extremely popular due to the high quality of the educational provision. In such cases it is acceptable for them to have their own admissions policies which are drawn up by the governing body based on national CofE guidelines.

“In turn, all admissions authorities including governors of church schools must comply with the National Admissions code set by the government.

“In this context, CofE schools may choose to prioritise children from Anglican worshipping families first, but this does not automatically preclude everyone else as they may be eligible under another of the entry criteria chosen by the school.

“When schools are over-subscribed choices have to be made and this is the fairest way to do that.”