Paul Barber, Catholic Education Service Director, said: “Catholic schools take in 50% more pupils from the most deprived backgrounds than the state sector.
“Just under a fifth of all pupils in Catholic statutory education meet the highest Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) criteria, compared to a 12.8% England average. Similarly, fewer pupils from the more affluent areas attend Catholic schools.
“Catholic schools have ten times the catchment area of other schools, and so are less reflective of their immediate locality.
“Free school meals are available for parents on benefits, but continue after household income rises above eligibility criteria. The number of Catholic school pupils on free school meals is marginally lower than the national average as many parents are ineligible due to immigration status or low-paid employment, with barriers to take-up including the complexity of applications and financial privacy concerns.”