More than 26,000 Muslims attend Catholic schools in England and Wales, it was reported this week.

According to an annual census of Catholic schools, approximately one in ten of the non-Catholics who attend Catholic schools are Muslim.

The census is the first to collect data on how many non-Catholics attend Catholic schools. It has revealed that nearly a third of the more than 850,000 pupils within the Catholic school system are not Catholic -a total of almost 290,000.

Finnuala Nelis, head of St Patrick’s Catholic Voluntary Academy in Sheffield, told the BBC that about half her pupils were not Catholic. She also said there were Muslim pupils who regularly attended their local mosques, but would go to Catholic religious services at school.

At present a religious free school is allowed to select only half its pupils on the grounds of faith, but Theresa May’s government has said it intends to remove this limit.

The rule has so far prevented the Church from setting up any free schools.

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