Monday, 25 March 2024 13:40

Catholic schools educate 50% more of the most deprived pupils than the state

Census release image by Mazur CBCEWCatholic schools take in 50% more pupils from the most deprived backgrounds than the state sector, according to the latest data.

Just under a fifth of all pupils in Catholic statutory education meet the highest national deprivation criteria, compared to a 12.8% England average. Similarly, a quarter fewer pupils from the more affluent areas attend Catholic schools.

Free school meals are available for parents on benefits, but continue after household income rises above eligibility criteria.

The number of Catholic school pupils on free school meals is marginally lower than the national average, as many parents are ineligible due to immigration status or low-paid employment, with barriers to take-up including the complexity of applications and financial privacy concerns.

Pupils from ethnic minorities make up 45.5% of the Catholic school population, compared to an England state school average of 37.4% — for Wales the Catholic figure is 35.6%, and the Welsh average 14.3%.

There are 2,169 Catholic schools in England and Wales, educating more than 850,000 pupils, making up 9% of the state-funded sector. The Catholic Church is the biggest provider of secondary education and the second-largest provider of primary education overall. There are also four Catholic universities in England.

The figures come from the annual census of Catholic schools and academies conducted by the Catholic Education Service (CES), which acts on behalf of the Catholic Bishops' Conference and has supported Catholic education since 1847.

Paul Barber, CES Director, said: “Many Catholic schools were established to help poor immigrant families during the nineteenth century, and this tradition of providing education for those most in need has continued ever since.

“Today Catholic education outperforms national GCSE averages for English, Maths and Religious Education by up to seven percentage points, a testament to the sector’s success given the much higher proportion of pupils coming from the most deprived households in the country.”

A total of 56.4% of pupils in Catholic schools are of the faith, as are 43% of the 51,650 staff employed. Of the 334,273 non-Catholic pupils, just under half are from other Christian denominations. The largest non-Christian religion represented is Islam, with 10.8% of non-Catholic pupils being Muslim.

Only 0.04% of pupils are withdrawn from acts of collective worship such as Mass and prayers in assemblies.

Catholic schools continue to convert into becoming Catholic academies, with a 13% increase in the past year. There are now 921 Catholic academies in England, run by 79 multi-academy trusts, with 46% of Catholic state-funded schools being academies.

Read the reports on schools, colleges and academies for England and for Wales.

Image by Mazur/CBCEW

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