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Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams - Copyright REX
UK News

Rowan Williams and Richard Dawkins unite in faith schools rethink

by Cara Bentley

A mix of public figures, from the MP Caroline Lucas to several religious figures, have expressed support for the cap remaining.

Currently, faith schools are limited in the number of pupils they can admit who share the religious ethos of the school.

However, the government has committed to lifting the 50 per cent cap in order to encourage faith groups to open new schools.

The issue has divided those within the wider church.

Paul Barber from the Catholic Education Service would prefer the cap to be removed. Speaking on Premier's News Hour, he said: "We've had Catholic schools from the middle of the 19th century and they've proved to be a huge force for social integration and social mobility."

When asked if it was fair to give preferential treatment to Catholic families he said: "The fairness is about trying to respond to parental choice. Our schools are there for those parents who want their children to have a Catholic education and that includes Catholic parents and others."

Paul Barber added that it gives them priority but doesn't exclude others.

Wanting the cap to remain is Reverend Steven Terry, Chair of the Accord Coalition.

Again, speaking on Premier's News Hour, Rev Terry said: "No preferential treatment should be given to those who espouse a faith as opposed who those who do not.

"I mean, if there is any kind of thought that the aim of a church is to win disciples for its particular way of looking at the world, then surely to liaise with...those who are not of faith is just as important as to communicate with those who haven't."

"I believe, and so does Accord, that education should be open to everybody without any kind of limit or qualification put on their eligibility for education."

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