The Secretary of State for Education has praised the work of faith schools across the nation.
Speaking at the Church of England’s education conference, Gillian Kegan described the Church of England as one of the department's "most valued partners".
“I want you to know how much I really value the role the Church of England plays in educating our children. Its reputation for excellence in schools speaks for itself,” Keegan said.
“You are transforming lives and you should be really proud of the work you do. And on behalf of the children you teach, I am eternally grateful. Put simply, without the Church of England, pupils across the country will be learning less and doing worse.”
The Cabinet Minister also reflected on the impact faith schools had on her own upbringing. After listing all the Catholic schools she attended, she admitted they left a mark on her life.
“All of those faith schools, which were fantastic schools, they got me where I am today. But they also instilled faith in me. And it's a core part of who I am today.”
Keegan made the remarks as she addressed the more than 900 education leaders and young people attending this year’s education conference.
Although the event was first started in 2017 with the intention of being an annual gathering, the last conference was held in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The day-long conference included seminars and forums lead by 100 student leaders from Church of England schools across the country with the aim of “equipping and inspiring” them.
In her speech, Keegan also acknowledged the “pressures” faced by teachers ahead of the planned strike action on 1st February. However, she reminded those in attendance of the £2 billion that were allocated for schools in the Autumn Statement.
“We were one of the very few departments to be given that money in the Autumn Statement. And yes, we did get the 2 billion pounds that was asked for both years. The unions asked and we delivered. And that uplift means we will be funding schools in real terms at the highest level ever in history.”
She continued: “My promise to you is I will always listen. 'My door is always open' is a cliché, but it is true…My ask of all of you is that you now work with me to keep as many schools open and as many children in school as possible during the disruptive strike action.”
The Church of England has over 4,600 schools with over one million students in attendance.