The Church of England's education chief has countered warnings that struggling faith schools risk being taken over by the government and turned into academies.
Rev Nigel Genders, the Church's chief education officer, said: "Our schools are about far more than the land or the buildings we own, they are about the education we provide for the whole child. We are a big player and any reports of our demise are greatly exaggerated. We look forward to continuing discussions with Government."
Columnist Laura McInerney wrote in The Guardian that the Education and Adoption Bill currently going through Parliament will require the government "to grab land from the churches" under measures that compel the education secretary to force a takeover of schools rated by inspectors as inadequate.
"No discretion will be allowed. If the school is not yet an academy, it will be pushed into becoming one," she wrote.
There are currently more than 4,500 Church of England, more than 2,000 Catholic, more than 30 Jewish and more than 11 Muslim state maintained schools, a third of the total. There are also few Hindu, Sikh and other faith schools. The Roman Catholic Church ruled out opening any new Catholic academies because of a cap on faith-based admissions. The faiths own the land and the buildings of these schools.