The new secretary of state for education should scrap the 50 percent cap on faith-based school admissions to Jewish schools because it is not the best way to ensure community cohesion, Jewish leaders have said.

In a letter to Justine Greening from the Board of Deputies, sent on Wednesday, Board chief executive Gillian Merron says: “The majority of Jewish schools [are] in favour of the abolition of the 50 percent rule.”

The cap applies to all free schools and decrees that only half of all pupil admissions can be made on the grounds of ethnicity, but the government reshuffle has ushered in new thinking on the issue.

Nick Timothy, director of the New Schools Network and former chief of staff to Theresa May, is a known critic of the cap, as is Dame Louise Casey, who advises the government on radicalisation in education.

Asking for “a more flexible approach,” the Board tells Greening that the cap has “prevented the creation of more faith-based free schools,” while those that exist “only appeal to people of the faith background”.

Greening’s predecessor as secretary of state for education, Nicky Morgan, was unmoved by Jewish communal protests, but the recent reshuffle has prompted renewed calls, with 68 rabbis penning a letter to Greening last week opposing the cap.