Growing Number Of Muslim Children Being Sent To Catholic Schools
There are now more Muslims in Catholic schools than any other faith except for Christians, according to new figures released today.
Muslim pupils are the largest minority faith in Catholic schools, the Catholic Education Service said in a press release.
More than 26,000 Muslim pupils are now educated in Catholic schools across England, according to a census of more than 2,200 primary and secondary Catholic schools in England and Wales.
The census shows that one in three pupils who attend Catholic schools is not Catholic.
The census is carried out each year, but this year for the first time the Church has collected data on non-Catholic pupils as well as Catholics.
One of the biggest religious groupings is pupils with no religion, accounting for more than a fifth of non-Catholics.
Half of all the non-Catholic pupils in Catholic schools are from other Christian denominations.
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Once again, the figures show that Catholic schools are the most ethnically diverse in the country with 21 per cent more pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds than the national average.
Paul Barber, service director, said: "It is great to see Catholic schools acting as beacons of diversity and integration up and down the country. Often, parents of different faiths and none value the distinctive and unapologetically Catholic ethos of the Church's schools.
"It is precisely because we are open about our faith that parents of other religions feel comfortable with the all-inclusive ethos of Catholic schools."
Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, chairman of the Accord Coalition, which campaigns for state funded schools to be open to all, said: "It is to be welcomed that a fraction of pupils admitted continue to come from a non-Catholic background. We should ask however why the Catholic Education Service is so opposed to its state funded schools facing any restrictions on religiously prioritising pupils, and acknowledge that places taken up by non-Catholics are usually ones at lower performing and less desirable schools that Catholic families do not want.
"Religious selection by faith schools is helping make our school system more segregated, which is bad for integration, but also confers different opportunities to children on account of their background. Rather than undermining community cohesion and equality of opportunity in this way, state funded Catholic schools should copy Catholic schools in most other developed countries and most fee paying Catholic schools in Britain, which do not select pupils by faith."
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Theresa May lifted the 50 per cent cap on admissions of a particular faith that had been imposed on new schools which are oversubscribed, freeing up the Catholic Church to plan many more faith schools across the country.