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Lay Catholics can bring about change

Deputy Director of the Catholic Union, James Somerville-Meikle, writes:

About a year ago, our small team at the Catholic Union sat down to plan our work and campaigns over the year ahead. Top of the list was lifting the faith cap on free schools.

The policy had been a running sore since its introduction in 2010 as it effectively excluded the Catholic Church from taking part in the free school programme.

There had been numerous attempts to lift the cap in the past, but we thought it was worth another go, and so we launched our campaign to “scrap the cap”.

Those efforts seem to have paid off as this week the Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan announced her intention to lift the cap, subject to a public consultation.

At the heart of this latest attempt to lift the cap was an open letter to the Education Secretary signed by over 1,000 people from across the country, which we presented to Gillian Keegan in person.

The campaign has shown what can be achieved when lay Catholics get involved in public life.

We will need that energy and enthusiasm again in responding to the consultation, to make sure this change is secured. After fourteen long years, the end of the cap is finally in sight.