Majority want faith schools to keep the religious selection cap, poll finds

An opinion poll conducted by the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, has found that eighty per cent of those surveyed – including two-thirds of Catholics, are opposed to removing the current cap, which limits schools from not selecting more than half of their pupils on religious grounds.

Last September, the government said that new faith schools would no longer have to offer 50 per cent of their places to those of other religions or none.

But 80 per cent of the 2,000 people asked as part of the research have said they prefer to keep the cap in place.

This included 67 per cent of Catholics and 79 per cent of Anglicans.

Respondents from other religious backgrounds were more enthusiastic about the removal of the cap: 43 per cent of Muslims and 55 per cent of Jews were in favour of allowing schools to select all pupils on the basis of religion.

Jay Harman, of Humanists UK, was unsurprised by the poll’s findings. “Religious and non-religious people alike recognise that both children and society are best served when people from a range of different backgrounds are brought together to learn with and from one another,” he said.

The Catholic Education Service (CES) however has said that the question asked in the poll was factually misleading. The question states: "Since 2010 nearly all new state-funded schools in England have been permitted to select up to half their pupils on the basis of religion, but no more than 50 per cent."

A CES spokesman said that this implies that all faith schools were forced to give 50 per cent of places to pupils from different religious backgrounds. In fact, the cap was only enforced when schools were oversubscribed: undersubscribed faith schools were allowed to admit 100 per cent of pupils from the same religious background.

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