ONLY a third of people in Britain think taxpayer’s money should be used to fund Catholic schools, according to a major survey.
The poll also reveals that faith schools are unpopular in general, with just a quarter of parents saying they would send their child to one.
The findings will embolden secularist campaigners who are calling for an end to state-funded faith schools.
The movement has caused concern among some Irish communities that have been centred on Catholic schools for generations.
The survey, which is part of the Westminster Faith Debates project, shows people are more supportive of Church of England schools than their Catholic equivalents.
A margin of four per cent supported state-funding of CoE schools while a seven per cent margin opposes state-funding of Catholic institutions.
But the 4,000-person poll by YouGov also found that the public is generally supportive of letting religious schools favour children and families that practice their faith.
Half those surveyed agreed with the principle, while 38 per cent think it is “unacceptable” and one-in-eight said they did not know.
Pollsters also found that religion is very low in the pecking order of priorities that parents have when it comes to picking a school for their child.
More than three-quarters said academic standards would influence their choice and around six-in-10 said they would favour an institution because of its location.
Meanwhile, just five and three per cent respectively would pick a school that could ground their child in a faith tradition or to transmit a belief about God.
Linda Woodhead, the survey’s author and a Sociology Professor at the University of Lancaster, said the finding should call into question the “abstract” faith schools debate, which pits religious people against passionate secular activists.
“Our poll shows that when choosing a school most parents are concerned with academic standards, not religion,” she added.
“So long as parents want their children to get the best qualifications, so long as politicians of left and right support parental choice and high academic standards, and so long as faith schools maintain these standards, the debate can rage, but faith schools are not going away.”