Religious priority could be removed for Windsor and Maidenhead's Anglican schools

Shay Bottomley
Windsor and Maidenhead pupils may no longer be prioritised on religious background

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Pupils across the Royal Borough may no longer be prioritised on denominational grounds following a cabinet meeting on Thursday night.

It comes after report brought forward to councillors which requested the administration approved the admission arrangements for community and voluntary controlled schools for 2023/24.

Introducing the report, lead member for children’s services Stuart Carroll said the council was ‘proposing three relatively minor changes requiring consultation’. These were:

  • the removal of the denominational criteria for admission to voluntary controlled schools
  • a reduction in the Published Admission Number for King’s Court First School
  • a small change to the designated area boundary for Cookham Rise Primary School

The first change became a key talking point throughout the meeting at York House in Windsor.

Currently, in voluntary controlled schools, the oversubscription arrangements give some priority to children who have at least one parent who regularly attends a church that is part of the Churches Together in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland (criterion 8).

In the Royal Borough, criterion 8 applies to All Saints CE Junior School, Boyne Hill CE Infant School, Eton Wick CE First School, Holy Trinity CE Primary School (Cookham) and The Queen Anne Royal Free CE First School.

Not all schools allocated places under denominational grounds over the previous years; however, Holy Trinity, which was recently ranked as a top school on a prestigious Sunday Times list, saw between nine to 30 per cent of places allocated under denominational grounds.

The removal of criterion 8 will allow more children to attend voluntary controlled schools if they did not live in the catchment area or had no siblings or parents (such as teachers) already at the school.

Speaking at Thursday’s meeting, Kevin McDaniel, the council’s director for children’s services, said: “This change would enable more families around the borough to consider this school (Holy Trinity).

“Given that this school is one of the highest-performing in the country, I think it’s really helpful for our residents to understand that the access to this school is effectively being made more available and not requiring on a particular faith.

“I think it’s a very positive move, and it’s one that’s fully endorsed by the Oxford Diocese.”

Cllr Samantha Rayner (Con, Eton & Castle) asked where the change was ‘prompted by the diocese or the council’.

In response, Mr McDaniel said: “This was a request which came through the diocese and the governing bodies of the schools.”

“The diocese runs a number of academy schools as well as the voluntary controlled schools, and the academy schools through the diocese have already made this change, so it’s to align all the schools regardless of type.”

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