The law has effectively stopped the Church from opening new academies and free schools

The Conservative Party has pledged to abolish the “unfair and ineffective” 50 per cent admissions cap that prevents the Catholic Church from opening new schools.

In its manifesto for the 2017 general election, the party specifically mentions the effect the policy has on Roman Catholic schools, pledging instead to create new criteria for faith schools.

Currently, new faith schools can only select 50 per cent of students on the basis of religion. However, canon law says Catholic schools must give priority to children from the faith.

This has effectively stopped the Church from opening new academies and free schools.

The government pledged to reverse the law last September, and have included it in the Conservative manifesto.

The manifesto reads:

We will replace the unfair and ineffective inclusivity rules that prevent the establishment of new Roman Catholic schools, instead requiring new faith schools to prove that parents of other faiths and none would be prepared to send their children to that school.

The Catholic Education Service, which oversees the Church’s 2,230 schools in England and Wales, welcomed the proposal. A spokesperson said: “We welcomed the government’s plan to remove the 50 per cent admissions cap when it was announced last September, and we are pleased to see a continued commitment to this in their manifesto.

“Existing Catholic schools are already popular with parents of all faiths and none. Our 2016 schools’ census showed that roughly a third of pupils in Catholic schools are not Catholic.”