Community leaders have welcomed Government plans to relax admission rules for faith schools.

Under new education proposals unveiled by Theresa May on Friday, faith schools will be allowed to select more pupils based on religion.

Current rules put a 50% cap on the proportion of pupils selected by faith.

Board of Deputies vice president Sheila Gewolb said: “We have been advocating for this for some time. The measure has inhibited the creation of Jewish schools and has not demonstrably improved community cohesion. We look forward to working with the Government to enable more Jewish free schools to open and developing more effective means of their contributing to community cohesion.”

A spokesman for the Chief Rabbi said: “For many years, without the 50% rule, the Jewish community proudly build schools which did not compromise on outstanding academic standards, an immersive Jewish atmosphere and a total commitment to promoting the values of integration and tolerance. I wholeheartedly support the Government’s proposals, which will enable us to return to that arrangement.”

Conservative peer Lord Polak said: “Today, Yavneh Primary Free School opened its doors – a great day. But we were acutely aware throughout the process that changes needed to be made and I am delighted that the prime minister and secretary of state for education have clearly understood this in today’s announcement.”

A Downing Street source said: “The admissions cap had the best of intentions but it has failed in its two key tests. It has failed to make minority faith schools more diverse, because parents of other religions and none do not send their children to those schools.”

Rabbi David Meyer, Executive Director of the Partnership for Jewish Schools welcomed the update, adding: “We feel that the announcement, which removes the 50% admission rule for free schools, shows that the measure has not achieved its desired objective, but instead, has disadvantaged certain segments of the Jewish community as well as other religious groups.”

“It is important that the Prime Minister has recognised that faith schools are among the best performing schools in the country and add significantly to the cohesion and moral fabric of our society. We join in her determination to ensure the continued success of our schools.”