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Over 1,000 people call on Education Secretary to “scrap the cap”

Over 1,000 people have signed the Catholic Union’s open letter to the Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, calling on her to lift the cap on faith-based admissions to new free schools.

The letter was delivered to Ms Keegan at the Department for Education by Catholic Union President, Sir Edward Leigh MP, and Deputy Director, James Somerville-Meikle, on Monday 18 September.

The Catholic Union launched the “scrap the cap” campaign earlier in the summer. The current policy has made it impossible for new Catholic free schools to open in England as it would lead to pupils being turned away on the basis of their Catholic faith.

The campaign received the backing of Bishop Marcus Stock, Chairman of the Catholic Education Service, and the former Labour and Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly.

Amongst the 1,000 names on the letter include several Catholic Bishops, parliamentarians, and teachers and lay Catholics from every part of the country.

The 50 percent cap on faith-based admissions applies to oversubscribed free schools with a religious character in England. Introduced by the Coalition Government in 2010, the cap has made it impossible for new Catholic free schools to open as the policy is incompatible with Church law.

The 2017 Conservative Party Manifesto committed to reverse the policy, but this was never achieved.

The Catholic Union has said it will use the time left before the next General Election to do everything possible to get the policy changed.

Catholic Union President, Sir Edward Leigh MP, comments: “The 50 percent cap is a source of huge frustration to Catholics in this country. There has never been any justification for the policy or any evidence to support keeping it in place. I was pleased to present this letter to the Secretary of State to demonstrate the strength of feeling amongst the Catholic community about this policy. With a General Election not far off, we may never get a better opportunity to finally lift the cap. Lifting the cap would be a huge vote of confidence in Catholic schools in this country and I know would be welcome by people from other faiths.”

Catholic Union Director, Nigel Parker, comments: “This campaign has been a huge undertaking by the Catholic Union. Thank you to everyone who has signed the letter and helped to promote it. Thanks to the support we have received, we have been able to put forward a strong case to the Secretary of State for lifting the cap. There is still more work to do and I encourage everyone who supported us to join the Catholic Union or make a donation so we can build on this campaign. We will continue to do everything we can to get this policy changed before the next General Election.”