England's church schools are "hugely popular" and "significantly more likely than other schools to be rated by Ofsted as good or outstanding," the education secretary Justine Greening MP has said.
She was speaking after the Government decided to relax selection rules for new pupils. The rules have been changed after it became clear that a cap on admissions to new faith schools, restricting them to taking only half their intake on the basis of faith, had failed.
In a letter to Sir Edward Leigh MP, Greening said she hoped the end to the 50 per cent cap on faith-based admissions "will give more organisations the opportunity to establish new faith schools".
It will primarily benefit Catholic pupils who were at a disadvantage, because they cap meant the Catholic Church did not take part in the government's new free schools programme.
Greening said: "I see Church and faith schools playing a strong role alongside other types of school, as part of a diverse system that gives parents greater choice and drives up standards."
Sir Edward, Conservative MP for Gainsborough and president of the Catholic Union of Great Britain, had written to Greening on behalf of the Catholic community thanking her for removing the faith admissions cap.
He wrote: "Many parts of the country face a shortage of school places that needs addressing. The Catholic Church has been an education provider in this country for centuries, establishing its oldest universities, and now teaching many of the poorest and most disadvantaged.
"I hope Catholics, our other fellow Christians, and the members of other faith communities in Britain take up the free schools with gusto. They can deliver a great education in a caring environment with a more holistic sense of what learning truly is."