Catholic schools rule out taking 'non-faith' students

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The Independent Online

Leaders in the Catholic Church have rejected proposals for places in their schools to be reserved for non-Catholics.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the chairman of the Catholic Education Service, said the Catholic Church would not follow the route taken by the Church of England, which pledged to reserve 25 per cent of places in its new schools for children of other faiths or none.

"The Church of England has always seen its schools as serving the whole community - it is the established national church and therefore it is there to serve everybody. Our vision for our schools is different. Our schools are essentially for Catholic children," Archbishop Nichols said.

The planned expansion of faith schools has been extremely controversial, with critics warning the Government it will increase intolerance and segregation.

But Archbishop Nichols said: "In terms of improving community understanding, Catholic schools are not the problem; they are part of the solution."

A new report shows Catholic schools get better results for five to 16-year-olds than other schools and are more ethnically diverse. Catholic schools also scored better academic results at primary level and GCSE, behaviour was better and bullying was less of a problem, according to the report, Quality & Performance: A Survey of Education in Catholic Schools, which was based on official data taken from Ofsted, the schools inspectorate.

Oona Stannard, chief executive of the Catholic Education Service, said that the report aimed to address many popular misconceptions about Catholic schools.

However, the report also said that A-level results at Catholic schools were on average almost a quarter of a grade lower than at other schools, and that in Catholic secondary schools the curriculum "was rather more restricted" than in other schools nationally.