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Gillian Keegan (WIkipedia/David Woolfall)

The British Government has announced plans to lift the notorious faith-based admissions cap on new free schools, in a move described as a “vote of confidence” in Catholic education. Source: Catholic Herald.

Following lobbying from the Catholic Church, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan announced a consultation about abolishing the cap that prevents free schools and academies from selecting more than half of pupils on grounds of religion.

Introduced in 2010 under the coalition government of David Cameron, the cap prevents the bishops from building any new free schools because the policy may require some Catholic pupils to be turned away specifically because of their faith, which conflicts with the Code of Canon Law.

Bishop Marcus Stock of Leeds, the chair of the Catholic Education Service (CES), an agency of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, welcomed the proposals. 

“Dioceses are well placed to respond to differing local educational demands around the country, including the provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities. Parents can welcome this also.

“Catholic education not only provides a high-performing school sector and promotes the formation of children in values and virtues; it is more ethnically diverse than other schools, educates more pupils from the most deprived backgrounds, and builds social cohesion within our communities.”

According to reports, the removal of the cap will mean that oversubscribed faith-based free schools will have the freedom to select up to 100 per cent of their intake from the Catholic population.

Catholic schools, academies and colleges educate just under 850,000 pupils in England and Wales, representing nine per cent of the national total of maintained schools.

Ruth Kelly, who was education secretary in the Blair government and Catholic Union vice president, described the move as a “vote of confidence” in Catholic education. 

“The fact that Catholic free schools were prevented from opening never made sense,” Ms Kelly said.


Gillian Keegan announces ‘landmark decision’ to lift faith-based admissions cap on free schools (By Simon Caldwell, Catholic Herald)