The Church of England's chief education officer has said that Muslim parents are sending their children to Christian schools because the institutions 'take faith seriously' and help prepare pupils for 'life in modern Britain'.
Nigel Genders wrote in a blog post on the CofE's website: 'We constantly hear from Muslim parents who tell us that they choose our schools precisely because we take faith seriously and offer an approach to education that gives attention to spiritual as well as academic development.
'They welcome the opportunity to send their children to a school which will ensure mutual understanding of faiths whilst being clear about the Christian heritage and underpinning narrative on which its ethos and values are based. Like the millions of others who have attended such a school, they know that we prepare children for life in modern Britain and a world that is increasingly connected.'
His comments come as it emerged that Muslim pupils outnumber Christian children in more than 30 church schools, including one that apparently has a '100 per cent' Muslim population.
Genders portrayed church schools as a beacon of diversity against the backdrop of 'increasingly nationalistic tendencies' in the West, alluding to the election and policies of Donald Trump and other political developments.
'The last year has seen a worrying rise in the numbers of registered hate crimes and racial or cultural tensions,' he wrote. 'The increasingly nationalistic tendencies in countries around Europe and across the Atlantic lead some to conclude that we should build walls of division and implement policies that keep "others" out. But we are proud that our Church of England schools are modelling an education where no passports are required and the doors are wide open to the communities they serve. At heart we are offering an education that is deeply Christian, serving the common good, and the millions of people who have had their lives enriched by such an education will be pleased to know that we continue to do so.'
Around a million school children in England attend the Church's 4,700 schools, and around half of these schools do not select on the basis of faith.
Last autumn, the Church of England said it would not push for schools to be allowed to select more than 50 per cent of pupils on the basis of faith, after the Government announced proposals to relax rules that currently prevent faith schools from selecting more than half of pupils according to religion.
Ofsted now inspects all state schools on their promotion of 'British values', including democracy, liberty and mutual respect and tolerance.
The move came in the wake of the so-called 'Trojan Horse' scandal, which centred on an alleged attempt by a small group of hard-line Muslims to seize control of a small number of schools in Birmingham.