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Board of Deputies welcomes Education Secretary's aim to lift entry cap on faith free schools

New Education Secretary Damian Hinds has revived hopes he will lift the 50 per cent cap on faith free schools selecting children by religion

    Damian Hinds, the new Education Secretary, has indicated he is ready to lift the restriction on entry to religious free schools.

    Although the Conservatives promised in their general election manifesto last year to lift the 50 per cent cap on selecting children by religion, the policy appeared to have been put on the backburner after the party lost its majority.

    But Mr Hinds suggested he will implement the election pledge in an interview with the Sunday Times yesterday.

    “There are thousands of faith schools all over the country and almost none of them have a cap on their admissions,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. “The cap relates only to new free schools of a religious character.”

    Where there was parental demand and a need for places, he said, “I want it to be possible to create those new schools”.

    Sheila Gewolb, Board of Deputies vice-president, welcomed Mr Hinds’s move.

    “Faith schools should be celebrated, not stigmatised,” she tweeted.

    Mr Hinds, a practising Catholic who has previously spoken in favour of removing the cap,  was appointed Education Secretary last month.

    The plan to remove the quota was first announced by Prime Minister Theresa May in late 2016.

    While currently a faith free school can only reserve half their places on the basis of religion, children of the same faith may still win a place on other grounds such as living close to the school.

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