The Catholic Education Service has welcomed Education Secretary Damian Hinds’ intention to abolish the faith school admissions cap.
The Sunday Times recently reported that Mr Hinds intends to go ahead with the measure following concerns that his predecessor, Justine Greening, was considering a u-turn on the Government’s manifesto pledge to scrap the admissions cap.
The cap prevents new faith schools from allocating more than 50 per cent of places on the basis of faith, resulting in Catholic schools turning away Catholic children so that children of other faiths or no faith at all can have a place, in order to fit the quota.
“There are thousands of faith schools all over the country and almost none of them have a cap on their admissions,” Mr Hinds told The Sunday Times. “The cap relates only to new free schools of a religious character.
“I’m interested in having good school places and that includes schools with a religious aspect. Where there is parental demand and where there is a need for places, I want it to be possible to create those new schools,” he added.
The Catholic Education Service, who previously led a campaign in The Universe, calling on readers to support the future of Catholic education, welcomed his comments.
“We welcome the Secretary of State for Education’s commitment to parents and their right to have choice in the school system,” a spokesperson for the Catholic Education Service told The Universe.
“As the second largest provider of education in the country, the Catholic Church looks forward to strengthening its ongoing partnership with the Government, providing high quality schools where there is parental demand for them.”
The Catholic Education Service joined forces with the bishops last November amid growing concern that Ms Greening was going to renege on the Government’s election pledge to overturn the admissions cap, despite the Government previously acknowledging the cap was ‘discriminatory’.
However, amid last month’s Cabinet reshuffle, Ms Greening resigned from the Government after Mr Hinds, a practicing Catholic who was educated at St Ambrose College, Altrincham, replaced her as Education Secretary.
Mr Hinds also recently suggested that University tuition fees should reflect the economic benefit graduates will have to the country.
His comments came ahead of a sweeping review of higher education funding.
Mr Hinds said the fees charged should reflect the cost of delivering a course and future earnings – potentially signalling a cut in how much arts and humanities students are charged – as well as the needs of the country.
The review will examine the current system of fees, which currently cost up to £9,250 a year in England.
Picture: Education Secretary Damian Hinds arriving in Downing Street, London. (Stefan Rousseau/PA).