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New religiously selective Catholic primary to open in place of private school in Norfolk

Norfolk County Council has given the go-ahead for a new Catholic primary school, which can legally select 100% of its pupils on the basis of faith, to open on the site of an independent school in Swaffham, Norfolk.

The decision comes as 14 bids for a new capital funding scheme for similarly selective voluntary aided (VA) faith schools – including Catholic, Church of England, Muslim, Hindu, and Jewish schools – are being considered by the Government.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School will replace the Sacred Heart School, an independent day and boarding school for pupils aged 3-16 which was unable to raise sufficient funds to stay open.

Humanists UK – which has long campaigned against religious selection because of evidence that shows it segregates pupils not only by religion, but also by ethnic and socioeconomic background, as well as prior attainment – has expressed dismay at the decision, which means more public money will be used  to fund faith school places that are not available to families who do not share the religion of their local school.

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Dr Ruth Wareham commented: ‘It is hugely disappointing to learn that, once again, public money is going to be used to create school places that won’t be accessible to every child in the local community. What makes the decision to open this new state-funded Catholic school particularly galling is that it comes as the result of the diocese being unable to secure sufficient demand from parents to sustain the independent Catholic school that is currently operating on the site.

‘It is completely unreasonable for the state to prop-up Catholic education at the expense of non-Catholic parents. For this reason, we urge Norfolk County Council to reconsider this decision and ensure that all new schools are accessible to all local children regardless of their religious backgrounds.’


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at or phone 020 7324 3078 or 07393 344293.

To find out more about the 14 additional bids for new 100% religiously selective schools and how you can take action, visit:

To read our open letter, signed by over 180 high-profile campaigners, opposing new 100% religiously selective schools, visit:

For more information about our faith schools campaign work, visit:

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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