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Bishop calls on government to keep Catholic schools promise

Queen Elizabeth II delivers the Queen's Speech whilst sat next to Prince Charles, Prince of Wales during the State Opening of Parliament on June 21, 2017 (Getty Images)

A bishop is urging parishioners to write to their MPs asking them to support the removal of a 50 per cent cap on faith admissions in new free schools.

The Bishop of East Anglia, Alan Hopes, has already written to MPs across the diocese, asking them to support the Conservative manifesto pledge, after its omission from the Queen’s speech on Wednesday.

The cap on faith admissions was intended to promote religious diversity.

“All the cap achieved was to bar the Catholic Church from opening new schools,” Bishop Hopes wrote.

“This is because it would result in Catholic schools turning away Catholic pupils on the grounds of their Catholicism, a feature which is prohibited by Canon Law.”

Since September, the Diocese of East Anglia has developed bids for eight new Catholic schools in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, the Bishop said.

“We are now simply awaiting the opportunity to submit these bids, and the removal of the cap is the final piece of the jigsaw to enable this to happen and for new Catholic schools to become a reality,” said Bishop Hopes.

In England, a free school is state-funded, but not under the jurisdiction of a local authority. Proposals for new free schools can be put forward by groups independent of the government, for instance faith and community organisations, parents or charities.

Unlike the grammar schools policy, removing the cap does not need any primary legislation, only the political will of the Secretary of State.