More than one in five black children now attend a Catholic school in England and Wales. That's according to the latest research which shows the Catholic Church to be the most ethnically diverse provider of education in the countries.
With roughly 10% of schools, the Catholic Church is the second largest provider of education. However, this tenth of provision now educates more than fifth of all black pupils in England and Wales.
The figures, which are part of the annual Catholic Education Service's Schools Census, also reveal the extent the Catholic Church is helping to integrate Eastern European migrants with British society, as almost one in five pupils from minority white backgrounds go to a Catholic school.
Across the board, Catholic schools educate 21% more pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds compared to other schools.
The Census also found that more than 26,000 Muslim pupils are now educated in Catholic schools, according to the latest research.
For the first time, the Census has collected data on pupil religion other than Catholicism to get a better picture of the religious diversity in Catholic schools.
The data found that one of the biggest religious groupings was pupils with no religion. This group accounted for more than a fifth of the non-Catholic pupils.
The largest religious group were pupils from other Christian denominations. More than 148,000 of them are currently enrolled in Catholic schools and make up half of all non-Catholic pupils.
Paul Barber, Director of the Catholic Education Service commented: "For another year running, Catholic schools are the most ethnically diverse in the country. What's more, Catholic schools are not just more diverse but disproportionally more so. The fact that a tenth of all schools educates a fifth of certain ethnic minorities is an incredible achievement.
"With Catholicism being a largely immigrant faith.. Catholic schools have a strong track record of taking in children from a wide range of ethnic minorities and producing well-educated, open minded, citizens.
"It is very easy for secularist campaigners to claim that religious ethos schools are divisive and segregate communities but the evidence for this simply doesn't back this up."
There are more than 2200 Catholic Schools in England and Wales.
The 2017 Census for England and Wales can be found here: www.catholiceducation.org.uk/ces-census
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