Church of England

Bishop claims Church is 'biased against Northern accents'

A bishop has claimed Northerners are being shut out of the clergy because of their "broad northern accents".

The Rt Revd Philip North, Bishop of Burnley, claimed Church of England selection advisers preferred selecting well-spoken middle-class candidates over working-class applicants.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, he said: "They think often there is a sense of discrimination against them. I couldn't say whether or not that's true but I've felt it myself at times, and it is a widespread perception amongst the northern directors of ordinands.


"So it's by and for public schoolboys. It rewards eloquence, it rewards confidence, it's residential, which some people find very intimidating. There's no doubt at all that it's unconsciously biased against a certain demographic."

He added that he has approved "broad Lancastrians, expecting them to sail through, and either they've just scraped by, or they've not been recommended".

"We've got pretty much a white, middle-class priestly caste. There's much more to that than the selection processes, but the selection processes aren't challenging that - it really favours your bright, white graduate who knows how to handle themselves socially and knows how to handle an interview."

Meanwhile, there's expected to be a three-fold rise in young adults applying for church placements.

Bishop Philip - who is chair of the scheme -told Premier: "The chance to give a year for Christ, exploring where he might be calling them and doing that in the context of service - often among some of our poorest communities - is an attractive one to young people."

More than two-thirds of the Church of England's dioceses have joined the Ministry Experience Scheme, which is a major part of the Church's bid to attract a more diverse pool of candidates from different social backgrounds.

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