I understand your concern as to the problems this new scheme could cause, it is important that in our communities children can work together with each other. As you know, there is a 50% cap on the number of children admitted on the grounds of faith for oversubscribed new academies or free schools with a religious character.

In September 2016, the Prime Minister announced plans to reform the education system, including proposals to remove this 50% rule. The ‘Schools that Work for everyone’ consultation ran from 12 September to 12 December 2016. On 11 May 2018, the Government finally published its response to this consultation, in which it confirmed that the 50% cap on faith admissions for free schools will be retained.

The Government has, however, announced details of a scheme for funding to help create new voluntary-aided schools for faith and other providers to meet local demand. The voluntary-aided route already allows for schools to apply to open with up to 100% faith-based admissions.

In January 2019, the Government also called on faith groups to open new free schools.

Groups such as Humanists UK and the National Secular Society have expressed concerns about the decision to make new funding available for schools which could be fully selective on the grounds of faith.

The freedom to practice faith and to educate children in a faith – or not – of our choosing is one of the cornerstones of the free and diverse democratic society in which we live.

However, it cannot be the case that schools are allowed to act as islands – either around ethnicity or religion – not co-operating or forging partnership with other schools. All our state schools must be open, inclusive, diverse and integrated. It is also very important that the school curriculum should provide pupils with a minimum entitlement to a broad and balanced education.

Thank you once again for contacting me and for sharing your views. I can assure you that I will continue to bear in mind the points you raise.

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