Roman Catholic leaders have told their schools to teach Judaism alongside Christianity in GCSE Religious Studies.

The Church’s edict follows reforms made to the exam last year, which required schools to teach two religions, but it has drawn in criticism from Muslim leaders for ignoring Islam and other religions from the teaching.

Sir Iqbal Sacranie, a former secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the Roman Catholic Church decision made no sense, given that Islam is the country’s second biggest religion by quite some distance.

“This is not a good decision,” he said. “It does not reflect well on the messages that are coming out from the Church for greater tolerance of other faiths. This is a difficult time for religions and the last thing you would expect is a major faith making such a statement.”

The Catholic Education Service said it chose Judaism “so our pupils can gain a thorough understanding of the richness and breadth of 2000 years of Catholic theology and culture”.

CES director Paul Barber added: “Just because our pupils are not being examined on faiths other than Christianity and Judaism, it doesn’t mean they’re not learning about them.”