David Cameron has pledged his support for faith schools and has indicated that a Conservative Government would oversee an increase in their numbers.
During an interview with The Jewish Chronicle Mr Cameron declared himself to be “a big supporter of faith schools, personally as well as politically”.
Mr Cameron, whose daughter attends a Church of England school, said: “I think that faith schools are a really important part of our education system and they often have a culture and ethos which helps to drive up standards.
“If anything, I would like to see faith schools grow. Through our school reform plans, there will be a real growth in new good school places, and we’re anticipating that some of these will be in faith schools.”
Mr Cameron’s support for faith schools was echoed by Shadow Children’s Secretary Michael Gove.
Mr Gove said: “We would like to see parents who want their children in faith schools to have that chance.
“We anticipate there will be more faith schools in the system. We have never set a target. It all depends on parental demand. We certainly anticipate there being an increase in numbers.”
Faith schools are often highly sought after by parents because of their success.
In December it was revealed that faith schools dominated a new 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 in November revealed that secondary schools run by faith groups are better at building community cohesion than secular schools.
But in September 2008 a coalition of teachers’ groups and think tanks launched a campaign to force faith schools to open their doors to pupils and staff who do not sign up to their ethos.
The coalition, named Accord, claims that faith schools – which often out-perform other schools – should not be able to ‘discriminate’ against students and teachers on the grounds of their beliefs.
However, critics warned that stripping away the religious ethos of faith schools would remove the source of their success.