The Prime Minister, Theresa May has repeated her support for faith schools and said that further details on the proposed changes to the admissions policy for Catholic free schools would be published in the "near future."
The diocese of East Anglia, which has some of the most severe shortages of places in Catholic schools in England, is currently sitting on bids, largely financed by the diocese, to open free schools with places for 4,400 pupils.
Helen Bates, assistant director for the Schools Commission in the diocese said the free school programme “was the main vehicle for us to open more Catholic schools” in East Anglia. She added that she was still waiting to examine the full details of the announcement, because “it depends where the money’s being taken from, whether it’s money that was allocated in the last parliament or if it’s money that hasn’t been committed to free schools yet.” However, she added, this diversifying of the free schools budget “is obviously of concern to us”.
The diocese of East Anglia, led by Bishop Alan Hopes, has urged the government to stand by the Prime Minister, Theresa May’s pledge to remove the 50 per cent cap on faith admissions to free schools, as previously pledged in September 2016 and reaffirmed in the Conservative manifesto ahead of the general election.
Bishop Hopes previously pointed out that under canon law, Catholic schools are not allowed to turn away Catholic pupils on the grounds of their Catholicism, adding, “All the cap achieved was to bar the Catholic Church from opening new schools.”
Mrs Bates said she is “still waiting” to hear from the Department for Education as to whether the faith cap will be removed, adding “we have to remain hopeful”.