Michael Gove's cap on faith places spells trouble for Catholic college's plan to go free

 

A clash between the Roman Catholic church and the Government over moves to restrict the number of faith pupils admitted to free schools has jeopardised plans for a leading independent school to join the state sector.

St Mary's College in Crosby, Merseyside, is seeking to become one of Education Secretary Michael Gove's flagship free schools.

The school believes the move will bring it back into line with the pledge by its founding fathers – the Congregation of Christian Brothers – to provide an education for the poor children of Liverpool. In recent years, its numbers have dwindled as fewer parents in the area are able to pay fees.

However, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool has come out against the plan because the Government insists on a cap of 50 per cent on the number of faith pupils admitted to any free school. The policy has already sparked controversy with the proposers of some Jewish free schools in London.

The Archdiocese cites a decision made by the Catholic Bishops' Conference, which says "the imposition of a 50 per cent cap... is not a secure basis for the provision of a Catholic school", and urges dioceses "to resist any pressure to establish a school on that basis. In the light of this statement and current Government policy, the Archdiocese could not conceivably support this proposal," it said.

"It would be extraordinary, if not contrary to Canon Law... to set up a school or allow a school designated as Catholic to be set up, which turned away Catholic pupils on the grounds that they are Catholic."

Mike Kennedy, headteacher of St Mary's College, said that – at present – the school was two-thirds Catholic. When children of siblings and pupils admitted as a result of the school's music specialism (who could also be Catholic) were added to the 50 per cent of admissions, it was quite likely the percentage of Catholics could even top the present figure.

"Being a free school would enable children from disadvantaged backgrounds to come to the school," he said. "It seems strange that the Catholic church would want to stop that. It is frustrating."

Negotiations with the Department for Education are still continuing. However, the Archdiocese says it has received an assurance that the DfE will not accept an application for the free school to open with a Catholic designation if it is not supported by the Archbishop.

The school, which first opened in 1919, has an impressive array of former pupils including the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and poet Roger McGough.

St Mary's plans to open as a free school in September 2015.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Qualified Nursery Practitioner - Sevenoaks

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Room Leader - Nursery

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Assessor / Trainer

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join ...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Manager - London - £200 p/d.

£190 - £200 per day: Ashdown Group: Payroll & Finance Manager - Covent Garden,...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas