PLANS to change the admissions policy for Catholic schools in Renfrewshire could lead to “discrimination,” it is claimed.

Renfrewshire Council wants to bring in new rules that could mean Catholic children would be given priority over those from families with siblings already at the school.

The move would bring Renfrewshire in line with neighbouring councils but the National Secular Society (NSS) has hit out, saying it could “entrench division, resentment and sectarianism.”

But the Diocese of Paisley fired back at the NSS, suggesting the organisation could set up its own schools if it is unhappy with the new arrangements.

Megan Manson, NSS spokesperson, told The Gazette: “Extending discrimination against children on the basis of their religious background will alienate many families.

“The council should focus on providing high-quality education to all children equally, regardless of their families’ religion or belief, rather than furthering the objectives of the Catholic Church.

“It should rethink these proposals and instead work on making schools more inclusive for all.”

The council insisted baptismal proof would only be required when a denominational school is oversubscribed.

A consultation has been launched on the changes and will run until March 31.

Currently, if a school is oversubscribed, places are allocated by ballot, not a religious test, said the NSS.

The NSS also said a secondary school allocation would be based on both the denomination of their primary and their home address. Currently, only their address is key.

Canon Tom Boyle, of the Diocese of Paisley, said Catholic schools were set up more than a century ago for Catholic pupils.

He added: “If the secular society want to set up their own schools, they can do so. We are quite happy with the way things are at the moment.”

A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “All children and young people have a right to attend any public school if there are enough places available.

The Gazette: Canon Tom Boyle Canon Tom Boyle

“This consultation is seeking the views of parents on an updated school admissions policy and the responses will be presented to the Education and Children’s Services Policy Board later this year.

“The proposals comply with national legislation on the provision of denominational schools while giving parents as much freedom as possible within the resources available.

“They also state that it is only when a denominational school is oversubscribed that we would require to see baptismal certificates for children registering with the school.”

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