To think that academies should be forced to give priority to statemented children/ children in care

(77 Posts)
ReallyTired Tue 09-Oct-12 11:35:23

The very over subscribed local catholic secondary school has recently become an academy and now gives priority to all catholic children. In the past children who were in care or had a statement naming the school were top of the admissions process. Now such children are below catholic children in priority. The school is also unusal in that it does not prioritise siblings.

They prioritise siblings of practicing catholic children who are in care first, then practicing catholic children, then children who have been baptised catholic, then children who attend catholic primary school and after that children who are in care. The reality is that the school is so over subcribed that children who are in care don't stand a chance.

I know a family with two foster children, neither of them catholic. The oldest child is already at the school and the foster parents want to send the youngest these as well. Both children have been to hell and back and need to have the security of being together. Their case is supported by social workers and medical professionals.

I feel its disgusting that a supposely "christian" school has an admissions policy that does not prioritise local authority care children. I feel that all state schools should have children who are in care at the top of their admissions list however they are funded.

bochead Tue 09-Oct-12 12:31:39

Sadly children in care often don't get the opportunity to be practicing Catholics, go to confirmation classes, be baptised etc simply because of the very nature of their situation. This is a very unfair policy, and really discriminatory. Very, very unchristian attitude towards the most vulnerable children.

Sadly kids in care don't tend to be those who will boost schools' league table results, so I suspect this policy is deliberate.

(I know several adults who had to wait until they left care to formally be confirmed as Anglicans, Catholics or visit the mosque regularly. If foster carers are lapsed or non-believers in the child's faith they are under no obligation to take them to the desired place of worship iyswim).

Where r u? Where I live looked after children are pretty much top of the list for all schools. There r even catholic schools which take catholic looked after children and then other looked after children, all before even siblings or catchment

ginnybag Tue 09-Oct-12 12:46:54

That's disgraceful!

Then again, I think religion having a place in school selection full stop is. I'm waiting for someone to launch a challenge on the grounds of Religious Discrimination, because schools have to be the only public (and publicly funded) anythings that are allowed to cite a person's faith as grounds for selection.

If an employer tried it (even one 'owned' by a Church) they'd see the inside of a courtroom so fast they'd give off sparks, so why is it okay because it's a child?

I agree ginny it's tough enough getting a place at a decent school and by putting yet another obstacle (ie not religious) in the way is appalling! Ironically a system that was designed to be fair is quite the opposite with the regular child having no place anywhere due to not believing in something .

PunkInDublic Tue 09-Oct-12 12:50:51

My old local authority had this policy, not sure about my current one. But children in care regardless of faith were given priority.

I don't agree with faith schools personally but I know they do have some advantages for children and those in care should get first choice. If it evens the playing field for these children then yes, YANBU.

catwomanlikesmeatballs Tue 09-Oct-12 12:57:10

Why should a Catholic child lose out on Catholic school for the sake of a non Catholic child? Parent's want their children educated with their own ethos, it's not their fault that the schools are better and oversubscribed as a result of that. It would be better to build more schools and upgrade the standards in existing ones so that there are no long queues.

A school can only be as good as the students though and the parents are responsible for how they turn out, there needs to be a mass improvement in parenting in certain areas because it's the schools with too many 'bad' pupils with 'behavioural problems' driving other kids away because of the low standards and bullying which is causing oversubscriptions in schools where the majority of parents give a shit.

I see what ur saying cat but y should any child miss out on a decent education as a result of not being in care or not being religious or not having a sibling in a school. There is very little that ensures a regular kid gets a place.

ReallyTired Tue 09-Oct-12 13:08:37

This is the school that deserves to be named and shamed.

J F Kennedy Catholic School

Their admissions criteria generally fills up at number 4.

I feel that every state school should put looked after children at the top of the priority list. Academies are supposed to have a fair access policy and I feel that this school is breaking existing law.

Faith schools do descrimate on relgion when employing staff. They can do it by asking for the Catholic Teaching Certificate. I feel this should be illegal, unless you are actually employing a priest/rabbi/ Iman of a particular religion ie a hospital chaplaincy.

What I mean is that if someone lived three or four miles away from a school but that school was the nearest and there for their local catholic or C of e school , it's a little unfair in many ways that people miles away would get in over those who lived locally. And as a result didn't get a place or a place at a school that was acceptable.

PunkInDublic Tue 09-Oct-12 13:14:41

"A school can only be as good as the students though and the parents are responsible for how they turn out, there needs to be a mass improvement in parenting in certain areas " Although I will agree with you there Catwoman I don't think this approach can be fairly applied to children in the care system. They don't always have parents ensuring their best interests are being fulfilled. sad

Floggingmolly Tue 09-Oct-12 13:18:11

Why do you want them educated at a Catholic school if they're not Catholic?

catwomanlikesmeatballs Tue 09-Oct-12 13:19:32

When you put it that way wheresmycaffeinedrip... I agree with you there. It's ridiculous that children have to be in that situation in the first place. I think there needs to be a radical overhaul, making rules on who the schools can give first preference isn't going to solve the problem.

I just think that entry criteria is so misguided. I'm lucky I live in area where they r given priority in nearly every school and it's the regular Joe that doesn't stand a chance of getting a decent placement. But to have an area give already disadvantaged children yet another obstacal to overcome is not right. People take advantage and fraudulently obtain places and there'd nothing being done about it.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 09-Oct-12 13:23:37

Flogging because it might be your nearest school?

OP, YANBU, that's very worrying.

Is anyone challenging this with the school?

This does not happen in my region, all schools take pupils from different religious backgrounds, if they are 'Looked After'. Priority is given and a certain number of places are set aside for children who are accommodated by the LA.

There is the ability to take a child based on their emotional needs, in the admission criteria.

I would start a campaign against this policy, not on the basis of that child or children, but just a general policy.

You can google/read the admission statements of any schools in the UK, to use as an emample.

Why do you want them educated at a Catholic school if they're not Catholic?

Children who are 'Looked After', mostly fail, educationally and should be placed in the best schools available.

They need a good standard of teaching and pastral care, as they dont' have the back up of a stable, secure home life.

The LA have a responsilbilty to make the best choices available and schools also have social responsibilities.

ReallyTired Tue 09-Oct-12 14:25:17

Lots of catholic children travel miles to a particular catholic school. Hertfordshire has lot of catholic schools. I feel that children applying for school on faith grounds should have their nearest faith school as their first choice. It is stupid having children being bussed in from ten miles away when there are catholic secondary schools nearer to them.

"Why should a Catholic child lose out on Catholic school for the sake of a non Catholic child? "

It could be argued that children in care all have catholic/ muslim/ hindu/ Baptist/ c of E/ athetist parents. We all have a responsiblity to LAC children.

Children in local authority care parented by the corporate parent. The corporate parent is the tax payer. (Ie. It can be argued that you are the parent of children in care.) I think that LAC children should have priority for the best schools in the area. Most of them have been through hell and deserve the best education possible.

Surely the catholic church should be taking a parenting role with children who are in care by giving them a place that their school if social workers believe it to be in the best interest of the child.

Tailtwister Tue 09-Oct-12 14:33:35

I agree that children who are in care should be given the best possible chance educationally. That should go without saying.

I do however think it's completely unfair to expect any child to accept less than the very best education available. No child deserves a better standard of education than any other. I have a serious problem with the differences in the standards of state education in the country. Unfortunately money talks, whether it's to buy/rent a property in a good catchment area or to buy a place in an independent school.

SadPanda Tue 09-Oct-12 14:34:45

Aren't they breaking the law then? As I understood it the Code of Practise which all state schools legally bound to follow states that children in care have priority over all others when it comes to admissions.

SadPanda Tue 09-Oct-12 14:44:39

Yep, looked after children and those statemented for that school still have to be given highest priorty (Code of Practice sections 1.6 and 1.7). The school you are referring to OP is breaking the law.

tethersend Tue 09-Oct-12 15:59:28

Unfortunately, they can do this- and they are not alone. I am an advisory teacher for Looked After Children, and unbaptised children in care can come as low as 13th priority in some schools.

SadPanda, the code is somewhat misleading, as the references you cite certainly allude to all Looked After Children having the highest priority; in reality, this is not the case in faith schools, where only Looked After Children of the faith receive top priority:

1.37 Admission authorities must ensure that parents can easily understand how any faith-based criteria will be reasonably satisfied. Admission authorities for faith schools may give priority to all looked after children and previously looked after children whether or not of the faith, but they must give priority to looked after children and previously looked after children of the faith before other children of the faith. Where any element of priority is given in relation to children not of the faith they must give priority to looked after children and previously looked after children not of the faith above other children not of the faith

In other words, only Looked After Children of the faith must take priority over other children of the faith. The school is operating within the code as long as Looked After Children of the faith take top priority (after statemented children).

Leaving my own feelings about faith schools aside, I find this incredibly frustrating as many Looked After Children are unable to provide evidence of baptism (which some schools require to be within six months of birth!), nor evidence of regular attendance at church due to frequent placement moves and differing faiths of carers.

I had hoped that the new admissions code would address this issue- but once again, it seems as if faith schools are able to prioritise as they like without any understanding of the issues facing children in care; even those 'of the faith'.

tethersend Tue 09-Oct-12 16:06:17

A couple of other examples of schools doing the same:

Sion Manning oversubscription criteria

Sacred Heart Language College oversubscription criteria

There are many more with similar criteria.

tethersend Tue 09-Oct-12 16:12:20

Oh, and WRT to statemented students; they are not listed as no.1 priority in the oversubscription criteria as they are allocated a place by a different system which means that they are not subject to oversubscription criteria because they are allocated a place before any other child. From your JFK admissions criteria link:

The admission of a child with a Statement of Special Needs is dealt with by a completely separate procedure. The procedure is integral to the making and maintaining of statements by the child’s home Local Authority. Details of this separate procedure is set out in the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice. Under the Education Act 1996, the Governors are obliged by law to admit any child with a Statement of Special Educational Needs where this school is named in the Statement.

DaringToHopePanda Tue 09-Oct-12 16:12:51

I missed that bit Tethersend. That's terrible.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now