Catholic Schools Cap

I fully understand that many Catholics and supporters of Catholic schools feel strongly about this issue. 

At present, voluntary-aided faith schools, which account for the majority of England's 6,500-plus faith schools, fully control their own admissions and as such, the vast majority of existing Catholic schools can admit exclusively Catholic pupils. 

The 50% cap is only placed on religious free schools and academies; new-style institutions opened free of local council interference. They must limit their "faith intake" to 50 per cent unless they replace an existing faith school. Indeed, existing schools which convert to academy status are not subject to the cap. 

The Department for Education argue that the 50% cap is necessary with regards to new academies and free schools because schools established with taxpayers' money in areas where there is a shortage of good places should be available to all who need them.

However, I entirely appreciate the argument of the Catholic Education Service that a Catholic Diocese would only seek to open a new voluntary-aided school if there was demand to fill it. In such an instance, I realise that a diocese may be reluctant to contribute to the opening of a new Catholic school which turns Catholics away and offers places to others simply on the grounds that they are not Catholic. 

In September 2016, the Department for Education launched a public consultation pertaining to the future of our education system. The role of faith schools was a key part of the consultation and the Catholic Education Service provided an extensive contribution. I am awaiting the publication of the formal response to the consultation.   

Finally, I would assure you of both the Government and my commitment to faith schools and the vital role they play in the education of our children.