Bishop calls on government to keep schools faith cap removal pledge
Following the Queen's Speech, the Bishop of East Anglia, Alan Hopes, wrote to MPs across the diocese urging them to support the pledge to remove the 50 per cent cap on faith admissions to new Free Schools.
Bishop Alan urged MPs to write to the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, on behalf of Catholic communities to offer support for this manifesto pledge and ask her to stand by this commitment to faith schools.
He wrote: "The removal of the cap was specifically designed to allow the opening of new Catholic schools, thus answering the demand from tens of thousands of parents across the country.
"The cap was a Liberal Democrat policy brought in as part of the coalition agreement with the aim of creating religious diversity in faith schools, something it has failed to do.
"All the cap achieved was to bar the Catholic Church from opening new schools. This is because it would result in Catholic schools turning away Catholic pupils on the grounds of their Catholicism, a feature which is prohibited by Canon Law.
He added: "Moreover, both the Government and the Casey Review into community integration recognised that the cap had not created religiously diverse faith Free Schools. This is in stark contrast to existing Catholic schools which are the most ethnically diverse in the country, with a third of their pupil population being non-Catholic.
"In fact, the most recent Catholic schools census showed that more than 26,000 Muslims currently attend a Catholic school," he said.
Since September, the Diocese of East Anglia has invested a lot of its own financial and staff resources into developing bids for eight new Catholic schools in Norfolk, Cambs and Peterborough.
The Diocese is now awaiting the opportunity to submit the bids, and said the removal of the cap is the final piece of the jigsaw for new Catholic schools to become a reality.