Catholic Church defiant over school admissions cap


The Catholic Church has released a strong statement in favour of removing a cap on the number of Catholics it can admit to its schools.

Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols confirmed today that the Catholic Church wished to "maintain historic agreements" with regards to admissions.

Currently, no more than half of places in Catholic free schools may be reserved for Catholics, and new academies set up by the Catholic Church must comply with this rule.

The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has opposed this policy, arguing that the imposition of a 50% cap on the control of admissions "is not a secure basis for the provision of a Catholic school".

The statement "urges" dioceses to "resist pressure to establish schools on that basis", claiming that it places "a disproportionate disadvantage on the Catholic community".

The policy was criticised by the Church last year after Education Secretary Michael Gove refused to relax the cap.

The Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CES) said that retaining a maximum quota on Catholic intake actually undermined parental choice, as "in the case of an oversubscribed Catholic free school, Catholic pupils whose parents wanted to send them to a Catholic school would have to be turned away because they were Catholic".

He argued that Catholic schools should be allowed to build on their educational successes without conditions being placed on ownership, admissions and the RE curriculum from outside bodies.

"It is a matter of regretfulness," said the Archbishop while expressing his reservations about the policy.

The statement comes in the same week as the head of the Church of England, Archbishop Justin Welby, reaffirmed his support for the use of faith-based criteria when it comes to selecting pupils for Church of England schools.