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Debate continues over faith school entry limit

Board of Deputies urges Government to implement manifesto pledge on faith schools

    The Board of Deputies has lobbied the government to honour its pledge to relax entry restrictions on religious free schools.


    The Conservative manifesto promised to replace the “unfair and ineffective” rules whereby free schools can allocate only half their places on the basis of faith.


    But the Sunday Times reported at the weekend that Amanda Spielman, chief executive of Ofsted, was “uncomfortable” about opening more single faith schools and had hinted the commitment could be dropped.


    According to the Board of Deputies, a decision on the policy is still to be taken.


    “We have made our position clear at the highest levels of government in recent weeks and we are working with colleagues in different faith communities to make the case together,” a Board spokesman said.


    “We want to see it made easier to open faith-based free schools, and believe that the 50 per cent cap on faith-based admissions is not the only — or even in most cases the optimum — way to promote community cohesion.” 


    Rabbi David Meyer, executive director of Partnerships for Jewish Schools, said: “As the Prime Minster has noted, the 50 per cent rule simply does not work. 
    “It would be very surprising and indeed disappointing should the government now decide to retain this policy.   


    “We would urge the government to respect its election promise, protect the rights of parents, and ensure faith schools have the freedom to accept families that want to attend their schools.”


    At Prime Minister’s Questions last week, Theresa May said the government believed it was “important to enable more faith schools to be set up and more faith schools to expand”. 


    She said Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, would shortly publish proposals on “improving school diversity and encouraging the creation of more good school places”.


    The Catholic education service has opened no free schools because of the admissions quota, while Jewish groups on the right-wing of Orthodoxy have also looked for change in the entry rules.

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