David Cameron has pledged his ‘personal and political’ support for faith schools and has said that he would like to see them “grow”.
Mr Cameron, whose daughter attends a Church of England School, said: “I think faith schools are an important part of our system, I support them and I would like if anything to see them grow”.
He added: “I think faith organisations bring often a sort of culture and ethos to a school that can help it improve and I’m a strong supporter personally and politically.”
Tory sources claim that the party envisages the biggest expansion of church schools since the establishment of national schools, if they win the upcoming General Election.
Under proposals revealed by the Conservative Party charities, including religious groups, will be able to establish ‘free schools’ which would be independent of local authorities.
The move has been welcomed by Bishop Malcolm McMahon, a leading figure in Roman Catholic Education.
He said: “The free schools idea interests me greatly because, of course, that was exactly how Catholic schools were founded – by local communities getting together, pooling their resources.”
Last year faith schools dominated a league table of England’s best primary schools.
Almost two-thirds of the 268 schools which achieved “perfect” SATs results last summer were Anglican, Roman Catholic or Jewish schools.
And a report released last November demonstrated that secondary schools run by faith groups are better at building community cohesion than secular schools.
It found that secondary schools run by faith groups scored eleven per cent higher for their promotion of community cohesion when compared with secular schools.
Earlier this month it was revealed that faith schools are increasingly unable to select pupils based on religious grounds due to the current admissions rules.
Critics have accused Schools Secretary Ed Balls of trying to undermine faith schools by attacking their admissions criteria.
Benedict Brogan, a Daily Telegraph columnist, warned that Mr Balls’ “drive to control the admissions policies of faith schools robs parents of vital choices”.
And earlier this month Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said that faith schools should be legally obliged to teach children that homosexuality is normal and harmless.