The government announced recently that it will not lift the Catholic school admissions cap for new free schools – that they cannot select more than 50 per cent of their intake from Catholics. This in effect prevents any new Catholic free schools from opening as it would require them to break canon law. However, the government will allow new “voluntary-aided” Catholic schools, under the authority of local government, to be opened. Archbishop Malcolm McMahon who is Chair of the Department for Education & Formation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has recently issued a statement regarding the Government u-turn on lifting the 50% cap on admissions to Catholic schools.
Statement from the Most Rev Malcom McMahon OP
Archbishop of Liverpool and Chair of the Department for Education & Formation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
“In their General Election manifesto, the Conservative Party made a commitment to the Catholic community that the unfair rule effectively stopping the opening of new Catholic free schools would be lifted. Today the Tories have broken this promise, wilfully ignoring the pledge they made to our country’s six million Catholics.
“The Catholic Church has had a long and positive relationship with the State in the provision of education and we see today’s consultation response as a regressive step in this historic partnership.
“This U-turn shows the Government is prepared to disregard its own data showing the 50% cap doesn’t create diversity, and side with a vocal minority of campaigners who oppose the existence of Church schools. Catholic schools are popular with parents of all faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds but despite this we will remain barred from participating in the free school programme.
“We remain committed to the provision of high-quality education across the country and will continue to work with the Department for Education to address the urgent demand for new Catholic schools. We will look on with interest at the possibility of new Catholic voluntary aided schools despite the direction of travel for nearly a decade being towards academisation.
“Voluntary aided schools are an important part of our sector and it is significant that the Government has singled out Catholic education as an area to directly fund. This is rightly in recognition of the importance of Catholic schools to local communities, the historic role of the Church in the provision of education, and the tens of thousands of Catholics who campaigned on this issue.”
Statement embargoed until Friday 11th May