In Ofsted reports of all primary schools between 2003 and 2005, 60% of Catholic primary schools were judged to have an excellent or very good ethos, compared to
45% of other schools, while 49% of Catholic secondary schools were judged to have an excellent or very good ethos, compared to 32% of other schools.
They were a great vehicle for social mobility and helped many young people to escape the relative poverty of their parents. It is for that reason that I support faith schools for other communities, such as Sikhs, Jews and Muslims, and provided the right safeguards are in place to guard against extremists and ensure a balanced curriculum, I favour their expansion where there is genuine parental demand. But it is not for government to create this demand - which is why Ed Balls was right to answer as he did at the Select Committee (whose chairman is not a fan of faith schools) - but is for government to respond to that demand where it can reasonably be met. A Labour government should be proud that it created the first state schools for faiths other than Christians and Jews. It should not be unwilling to continue to do so.