There is currently a 50 per cent cap on the number of children admitted on the grounds of faith for oversubscribed new academies or free schools with a religious character. In September 2016, the Prime Minister announced plans to reform the education system which included proposals to remove this 50 per cent rule.
A response to the government’s consultation on this issue was due in spring 2017 but this remains outstanding. The delay in setting out further details has been a cause for concern and I hope that the current government will soon clarify its position on inclusivity rules and faith school admissions.
Faith schools are an important part of the educational landscape. The freedom to practice faith and to educate children in a faith – or not – of our choosing is one of the cornerstones of the free and diverse democratic society in which we live.
All schools, including faith schools, should serve their local communities and follow the admissions code, so that every child has fair access to schools. It is very important that the school curriculum should provide pupils with a minimum entitlement to a broad and balanced education.
I will continue to follow developments on this issue closely and bear in mind the many points raised with me by constituents.