Latest figures released by the Church today show that Catholic schools are the most ethnically diverse in the country, educating 21 per cent more pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds than non-faith schools.
The figures, which are part of the annual Catholic Education Service’s Schools Census, reveal that one in five black children attend a Catholic school along with 26,000 Muslims.
The data also highlight the extent the Church is helping to integrate Eastern European migrants, with almost one in five pupils from minority white backgrounds attending Catholic schools.
For the first time the Census collected statistics on the number of pupils adhering to other religions and the findings show that children with no religion accounted for more than 20 per cent of the non-Catholic students.
Paul Barber, Director of the Catholic Education Service, said: “The fact that a tenth of all schools educates a fifth of certain ethnic minorities is an incredible achievement.
“With Catholicism being a largely immigrant faith in England, Catholic schools have a strong track record of taking in children from a wide range of ethnic minorities and producing well-educated, open minded, citizens.
“It is very easy for secularist campaigners to claim that religious ethos schools are divisive and segregate communities but the evidence simply doesn’t back this up.”
A report earlier in the week from the Education Policy Institute criticised faith schools for allegedly taking fewer children with special needs and from poor families.
The Government has recently announced plans to lift the 50 per cent cap on the number of places faith schools can allocate on the grounds of religion, which means Catholic schools can potentially offer more places to Catholic pupils.