Bishop Stock welcomes Government decision to lift cap on Faith School places

May 7, 2024

Bishop Marcus Stock, Bishop Chair of the Catholic Education Service (CES), has welcomed the decision by the Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, to lift the faith-based admissions cap on new free schools in England.

The decision paves the way for Catholic free schools to open, having previously been excluded under the 50 percent cap or "rule" which would have forced schools to turn away some Catholic pupils. Bishop Stock, Bishop of Leeds, said:

“These proposals are welcome. Dioceses are well placed to respond to differing local educational demands around the country, including the provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities. Parents can welcome this also.
“Catholic education not only provides a high performing school sector and promotes the formation of children in values and virtues; it is more ethnically diverse than other schools, educates more pupils from the most deprived backgrounds, and builds social cohesion within our communities.”

The Department for Education also has plans to enable new faith-based academies for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The Catholic Church has a long history of SEND provision, and at present there are seven non-maintained Catholic SEND schools, three other independent Catholic SEND schools, and 16 other Catholic independent schools which are approved for SEND provision. Click here to find out about the work of St Joseph's Specialist Trust in Cranleigh, an independent, Catholic, non-maintained, specialist school and college for young people aged 5–19 with complex and severe learning difficulties.

The decision is subject to a seven-week public consultation that closes on 20 June 2024. Catholics in England and Wales are encouraged to respond positively to this consultation. Click here to make your views known using this link.

Source: Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales