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Bishop Alan tells Times that Catholic schools are diverse

Bishop Alan Hopes has written to The Times to set the record straight after one of its columnists argued that faith schools create discrimination and division.

An opinion piece on January 21 by columnist Rachel Sylvester claimed that a new Catholic school in Peterborough, which has just been approved, is divisive.

Writing in today’s (January 24) Times, Bishop Alan said: “Ms Sylvester’s article perpetuates many myths about Catholic schools, the biggest being they divide communities. However, data shows that Catholic schools are consistently the most ethnically, culturally and socially diverse schools in the country. In 2019, 41.4% of those in English Catholic schools were from ethnic minority backgrounds (34% nationally) and in the Diocese of East Anglia, this figure increases to 50%.

“Moreover, Catholic schools do not cater only for Catholic children. Nationally around a third of pupils in Catholic schools are not Catholic. In my Diocese that rises to more than 40%. What all our pupils and staff have are shared core values and respect for all, something that is not always apparent in secular society. I wonder how many of those who perpetuate these myths have visited a Catholic school and seen what they do? Our schools would be happy to show them.”