The Catholic Education Service (CES), is disappointed that it’s prohibited from the Government’s push for free schools due to an arbitrary cap on admissions.
The largest provider of secondary education in England and Wales, the Catholic Church, is unable to open new free schools despite significant demand from many thousands of parents.
Whilst the CES welcomes the provision of 9,000 more school places, announced yesterday by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Education, it is concerned why an education provider such as the Catholic Church, with a strong track record of providing high quality schooling, is being stopped from participating in this flagship Government policy.
The cap prohibits any potential Catholic free school from accepting more than half their pupils on religious grounds.
Paul Barber, Director of the CES, said:
“Catholic schools are some of the best performing educational institutions in the country and there is a significant demand from parents.
“We are not opposed at all to the principle of free schools, however yesterday’s announcement will be disappointing news to the thousands of parents who are unable to get their child a place at a Catholic school.
“If it is a question of diversity and promoting community cohesion, it would be worth the Government remembering that 36% of pupils at Catholic schools come from ethnic minority backgrounds, six per cent higher than the national average.
“We share the Government’s desire to provide hundreds of thousands of quality school places and its plan to give parents more choice in education.
“Providing high quality schooling is something the Catholic Church already does and the CES would ask the Government to remove the barriers which hinder us continuing to do this.”
The Catholic Education Service is an agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
83% of Catholic schools have been rated good or outstanding by Ofsted
At GCSE Catholic schools outperform the national average by eight percentage points
At age 11, Catholic schools outperform the national average English and Maths scores by five percentage points
Gov.uk press release on free schools