DfE plans to keep cap on faith-based discrimination in admissions

Posted: Fri, 11 Oct 2019

Inclusive schools for all protest

The government has said it has no plans to end a requirement for new faith schools to keep half of their places open to pupils of all faiths and none.

The minister responsible for faith schools, Theodore Agnew, confirmed the government is "not planning to remove" the 50% cap on faith based admissions in a letter.

The cap means faith based academies and free schools in England are allowed to discriminate in up to 50% of their admissions, but not more.

In his letter, sent to the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, Agnew said the cap was "important in ensuring that new free schools serve their communities".

No More Faith Schools campaigner Alastair Lichten said: "The cap is far from perfect, but is the only serious effort to date to deal with the discrimination and division caused by selective faith schools. We welcome the government's continuing commitment to maintain it.

"With the 50% cap secure, and plans for new 100% selective faith schools largely stymied, ministers should now look towards further measures to reduce discrimination.

"As a next step they should extend the cap to all schools, and then they should seek to move away from discriminatory admissions full stop.

"But we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that it is not only discriminatory admissions which make schools organised around religion unwelcoming and exclusionary for many families. If we want an inclusive education system, we need to roll back faith schools."

The chair of the Accord Coalition, Stephen Terry, said: "Discrimination should not be a part of school life – least of all in the name of religion."


  • The Accord Coalition wrote to the Department for Education after education secretary Gavin Williamson recently promised to look "closely" at plans to enable more faith based selection in Catholic schools. Williamson was responding to a question from Conservative MP Edward Leigh, a critic of the cap, in the House of Commons.
  • The government abandoned plans to lift the 50% cap in May 2018 after groups including the National Secular Society and Accord campaigned against them.

Tags: Admissions