Schools - WWYD

(140 Posts)
baconcrisps Sun 22-Jul-12 18:58:48

DH and I are atheist and have always believed that it would be hypocritical of us to attend church purely with a view to DD (age 3) attending a particular school. We do not, however, have any issues with DD attending a church school and learning about the Christian faith, singing hymns, taking part in asssemblies etc.

DD is 3 and will be starting at the nursery of our closest school in Sept. It is a C of E school that Ofsted judge as outstanding and the school is heavily oversubscribed. We did not expect her to get a nursery place here, and if I wasn't pregnant she would have stayed at the private preschool she currently goes to. However having got the place at the school nursery this will help massively financially and being local is also much more convenient.

We have to apply for school places in January and currently fall within the 15th out of 18 criteria for places. Usually all places are gone by the 13th or 14th criteria so it is incredibly unlikely that DD will be offered a school place there on the basis of living 2 minutes walk away. The next nearest school seems fine, we have always assumed she would go there and been happy with that. It is a much more diverse intake, higher free meals, higher SEN, higher English not first language, higher numbers starting and leaving within the school year. I didn't think I had a problem with that. However now it is getting closer, maybe I do. I also think I am disrupting DD enough by removing her from her preschool where her friends are so she can go to the CofE nursery and then will be moving her again, while her friends stay there, to go to another school.

Technically it is too late for us to do a U-turn on our lack of beliefs and start going to church - you are meant to attend for 18 months before applying to get in on one of the church criteria. However DD's (new) CM said she knows of at least one child whose parents only attended for a few months and the vicar (?) signed off on the form. Now I am struggling - should I put aside my view that education should not be dependent on a parent's religion (or willingness to turn up at a place of religion) or should I do whatever is within my power to get my DD a place at a good school?

boneyjonesy Sun 22-Jul-12 19:03:44

Got to be worth a try!

MomsNatter Sun 22-Jul-12 19:07:38


Katie08 Sun 22-Jul-12 19:08:08

Do it, got to be worth a shot. I'm doing the exact same thing for my DS who is 3. I'm an atheist but I "believe" for his school application !

FeakAndTheWeebleWorm Sun 22-Jul-12 19:11:06

I don't have much of an opinion either way about attending churches to get your kids into schools etc. but as far as I can see, there's nothing wrong with wanting what you believe to be the best for your child, and doing all that you can to do the best for your child. So if in your case that means sucking up your principles a bit and sitting on a bench for a couple of hours on a Sunday, go to it and good luck wink

2kidsintow Sun 22-Jul-12 19:16:57

As long as when your DC gets to school, you are supportive of everything that being part of a C of E school can involve.

At the school where I work, we have daily assemblies inc the Clergy coming weekly to lead a service, prayer before lunch and hometime, trips to Church for half days and days to do activities and have learning days. There are services at school for Harvest, Christmas, Ash Wed, Ascension and leavers.

My own OH is athiest, but is v poor at not being outspoken about it. If my DDs went to my school he'd be very hmm at some of it and it might make them feel awkward if they were doing something at school that their Dad would not be comfortable with.

UniS Sun 22-Jul-12 19:17:06

how much further up the list will a few months of uninvolved church attendance get you any way? With 18 levels of criteria I guess they are prioritising children of committed church members by degrees of commitment.

Lieing about how long you have been attending would be wrong.

worrywortisworrying Sun 22-Jul-12 19:17:20

If you have no problems 'believing' for the sake of your DC's application, then 'believe' all you want. You certainly wouldn't be the first and won't be the last.

I wouldn't because (i) I actually do have a religion (though not practicing, but I'm Irish, and therefore don't feel the need. He knows. I know. End of story!) and (ii) my DH is UTTERLY atheist, and wouldn't pretend.

But, I don't think many people would judge you for trying to get the school of your choice for your child.

waterlego Sun 22-Jul-12 19:17:40

You say yourself you think it is hypocritical and I do too.

The other school sounds fine. Why can't she stay in her current pre-school (don't see how it makes a difference financially if she presumably gets the govt funding for 15 hours) and then go to the other (non church) school?

Sirzy Sun 22-Jul-12 19:20:14

So basically you want to lie to get your child into a school meaning a child who actually does meet criteria doesn't get a place?

I could almost understand it if it was the only school but when there is another presumably non faith school locally then you certainly would be being unreasonable.

RackandRuin Sun 22-Jul-12 19:21:24

If you want your dc to attend the school and are happy to go to church regularly, why not? Getting into the school is generally dependent on attending church and not being a believer, isn't it?

Sounds very hypocritical to me. hmm

DollysDrawers Sun 22-Jul-12 19:27:21

It depends if you feel comfortable lying about it really. If you are not bothered about the hypocritical aspect of it then I don't suppose it matters but will you be happy to attend the church services etc for your daughter and 'pretend' to her that you believe in God?

Personally it would bother me that another child who met the criteria would not be able to attend the school because I had lied.

baconcrisps Sun 22-Jul-12 19:28:36

waterlego The private preschool is on my commute to work, so when I'm on mat leave isn't convenient. Plus you have to pay for year round place while only getting finding for term time.

unis a few months shouldn't push us up the list at all. It may not. Is just hearsay that they have bent the rules before. If they did again, Dd would be in 3rd category - so would pretty much def get a place.

Was expecting more of a flaming, thanks for being gentle so far!

2kids I think we would support things like harvest festival, summer fete etc. I already attend the carol concert as I like singing carols badly. We have some religious friends so are used to not being outspoken/trying to fight a point over religious....

MrsBovary Sun 22-Jul-12 19:29:55

I really wouldn't. We disregarded a wonderful Quaker school as it just had no relevance to us. C of E would similarly, in fact more so, not appeal.

And I agree about a child who does meet the criteria potentially being denied a place.

missmapp Sun 22-Jul-12 19:30:51

I would do it, as long as you are happy with of church involvement when/if she goes to the school. You cant use the church criteria and then moan that the school is indocrinating children in christianity.

baconcrisps Sun 22-Jul-12 19:31:15

dollys & sirzy we wouldn't lie. We would say on the form we had been attending for 6 months. It is the school/vicar/lea who would decide whether to treat that as cat 3 or cat 15.

LeeCoakley Sun 22-Jul-12 19:32:17

Is the nursery of the other school full? Otherwise I would start her there. I'm afraid standing in the playground with a bunch of hypocrites (including myself) would not sit well with me. I'd abolish faith schools anyway are they are too divisive and elite when doing well, then open their doors to everyone when they're not.

ilovesooty Sun 22-Jul-12 19:33:12

Well, as long as you're not bothered about a child who genuinely meets the criteria better than you do not getting a place...

CrapBag Sun 22-Jul-12 19:34:12

I am an atheist. DS is going to a Catholic school in September. I didn't lie to get him in, they know we are not Catholic. We were lower on the priority list but we got a place anyway.

For me, the other local schools are not even worth considering. A bit like the one you have described. It was going to be the Cathlic school which is our closest school or I would have gone further out of my area.

My childrens education is way more important to me than my religious beliefs. Think of it that way. YANBU. I went to a C of E school and it did me no harm.

CrapBag Sun 22-Jul-12 19:37:36

There will be a lot of people on here that will tell you that you are hypocritcal.

Ignore and do what you think is best for your child. If getting them into a better school is best for them then so be it. Why should a bunch of strangers condem you for that. Loads of parents do it as their childrens education is important to them. Its not good people saying things about moving either, we can't afford to live in a better area so we have to make the best of what is in the area we are in, which is known as a socially deprived area, hence me not even considering the other local schools for my children.

downbythewater Sun 22-Jul-12 19:39:19

If, like you say, the next nearest school is fine, I would just send her there. l really wouldn't worry about disrupting her, friendships at that age are very fluid and schools do an awful lot to help kids settle in. Plus if the C of E school is that oversubscribed I imagine she won't be the only one from the nursery who doesn't get into the school.

Dprince Sun 22-Jul-12 19:41:00

Do it. Another child won't get a place, that should have done and you will always consider yourself a hypocrite.
If your ok with that, go for it.
By the way I wouldn't base this on the gossip of a childminder at all.

JustFabulous Sun 22-Jul-12 19:43:29

I know someone who has very strong principles and they said it is surprising how they go out of the window when it comes to your children..

LeeCoakley Sun 22-Jul-12 19:44:13

Lol at all the concern for a 'genuine' applicant who won't get a place! This will be parents who have left it later than the op to get religious so I wouldn't worry about that.

EndoplasmicReticulum Sun 22-Jul-12 19:44:47

I am an atheist and my sons go to a CofE primary. However, we are rural and all the village primaries are CofE. They do not use faith as a criteria, but catchment. I did not lie on the application, I put "atheist" in the relevant box.

If I'd been determined for them to go to a non-CofE primary we'd have had a long commute.

worrywortisworrying Sun 22-Jul-12 19:45:01

Don't worry about the genuine applicants. God will help them wink

Krumbum Sun 22-Jul-12 19:46:20

Send her to the local school. It's morally the right thing to do. She will be absolutey fine there. I don't agree with faith schools existing at all but that school will be taking the local children from that area and it is unfair for you to take their place.

baconcrisps Sun 22-Jul-12 19:46:38

ilove well I am less bothered about another child than my dd shock. I also don't agree that an out of borough child whose parents may also be "playing the system" and will be driven in daily does "genuinely" deserve the place more than my dd who lives on the doorstep.

leecloakley the other school doesn't have a nursery.

baconcrisps Sun 22-Jul-12 19:48:59

krumbum the local one is the faith one, on my road and about 2 min walk. The other is just under half a mile away but is closest non religious one

malinois Sun 22-Jul-12 19:49:26

Do it!

I consider it a moral duty to undermine and defy a grotesquely unjust system which permits state funded schools to discriminate against children on religious grounds.

baconcrisps Sun 22-Jul-12 19:49:44

worry grin

TirednessKills Sun 22-Jul-12 19:50:51

It is dishonest to attend church for this purpose and you know this. It isn't a good example to set your child IMHO sad

And I'd love to know why you have an issue with a school with high numbers of children with SENs, free school meals etc...

LeeCoakley Sun 22-Jul-12 19:51:32

Haha malinois - destroy from within! I like it grin

Dprince Sun 22-Jul-12 19:52:12

Malinois yes that how to get back at them. Join the scrum to get it.

ilovesooty Sun 22-Jul-12 19:54:39

Well, because you're on the doorstep you've obviously decided your daughter deserves a place, probably regardless of anyone else's circumstances, and it seems you're going to go ahead anyway.

Krumbum Sun 22-Jul-12 19:58:13

This is mental then. They should be going by catchment. If its close try and send her there. MUCH better than carrying on with private...

Blu Sun 22-Jul-12 19:58:26

Have you actually visited the other school?

The primary DS has just left has a demography that shows v high levels of all the factors that are supposed to demonstrate disadvantage and therefore, apprantly, a difficult intake. It is in S London.

It has been a completely happy school for DS, the discipline is excellent, whilst the place feels like a warm, happy, caring family. And the excellent staff specialise on getting top academic results irrespective of a child's background. It has a much higher VA score than some of the high achieving faith schools. And having all his friends living locally has been brilliant.

Don't write off the other school without visiting and talking to other parents.

Totallymum Sun 22-Jul-12 19:58:31

Which country has a better educational system that is fair and stress free? The situation in the UK is a nightmare -moving house, postcode lottery, private school fees, waiting lists, religion. Anyone out there changed religion for schooling reasons?

If the other school does not have a nursery then you may well find a few children from the CofE nursery who will transfer to the other school, your dd won't be the only one.

I personally am an atheist. I would not send my children to a religious school. I'd sooner move house to the catchment of a good non-religious school.

I think you need to NOT attend church and fill in the application form honestly. Then if you do get a place you won't need to feel guilty for having been hypocritical.

leeloo1 Sun 22-Jul-12 19:59:00

Could you see attending church with DD from now on as a way of supporting the school/nursery she'll be attending? If so its more about community and less about 'playing the system' - or religion.

If it helps her get a place at the outstanding school then fantastic, if it doesn't then you've still been part of the community of her pre-school. You might want to keep attending though in case a place came up later in the year if she didn't get in in the 1st round?

I'd check what the CM said though - is it possible the parents who had only been attending for a few months had just moved into the area and had a letter from their previous vicar?

LeeCoakley Sun 22-Jul-12 19:59:26

It's better than driving pseudo-christians across town, better that they walk the few yards IMO.

worrywortisworrying Sun 22-Jul-12 20:00:56

iredness - most people have a problem with kids with SEN. They may not wish to admit it, but they do. Kids that take up most of the teachers time, that disrupt planned acitivities, that just generally are hard work... Most parents don't like their kids being paired with 'that' child

And, believe me, I know. I have that child. A child I adore more than life itself. But frequently reduces me to tears. A child I have decided to send his sister to a different school to, because I don't want her constantly having to deal with his behaviour. A child I will almost certainly HE because of his inability to behave in group situations.

Until you have a child like that, you have no idea how it feels. But, I refuse to blame other parents for not wanting their children to behave like mine does. It's not a nice place to be.

LeeCoakley Sun 22-Jul-12 20:01:02

My last comment was in reply to sooty, didn't make sense otherwise!

downbythewater Sun 22-Jul-12 20:01:56

Have you been to see the other school? We are similar in that our closest school is v oversubscribed - the type of school parents lie through their teeth/rent secomd houses to get into. Unsurprisingly we got allocated our 2nd choice which sounds similar to the school you described. However it is fantastic- the staff are wonderful and very committed, the facilities are excellent and I think it's great for DD to mix with kids from diverse cultural backgrounds.

redroof Sun 22-Jul-12 20:05:16

Brilliant, Malinois.
OP, have faith wink

LaGuerta Sun 22-Jul-12 20:07:27

A lot of people do what you are proposing and justify it on the grounds that you do the best thing for your child.

As an Atheist parent, I think that the first responsibility I have to my children is to provide them with a moral grounding in how to live your your life. It starts with leading by example, and so I decided that I was not prepared to fake a religion to get DS into school.

In the event the school in question announced it was increasing its intake just before the places were announced anyway. We got in.

Maybe someone is looking after us after all. wink

TirednessKills Sun 22-Jul-12 20:10:00

Worry - don't assume!

I do have a child with SNs, he has a half-time LSA. And yes, he does have behavioural problems, but he is also incredibly clever and teachers see him as an asset in class.

So, please, think carefully, SENs do not necessarily mean disruptive children. It might mean that the school has a reputation for being supportive and responsive to children's needs. IMO a school which deals well with the most difficult children will be a good school for any child.

worrywortisworrying Sun 22-Jul-12 20:16:07

Tiredness - sorry. Obviously I did assume.

DS has a massively high IQ (around 200,and he is 4YO) but is just a nightmare to deal with. I wouldn't blame any other parent for not wanting their child paired with DS.

DS takes things in around 20 times faster than a NT child, so just gets bored beyond belief. He also has a fascination with locks, which is something of a security issue.

I am sorry that I assumed your situation wrongly. I just don't see what's wrong with parents trying to do the best for their kids.

I am catholic. I will always be catholic. I still believe in Darwin.

MerylStrop Sun 22-Jul-12 20:19:06

I wouldn't do it. Take your chances - you live close enough to be in with a chance on that criteria alone.

Feigning religion to get into a school is low end.

The system is completely stupid but that doesn't make it acceptable.

TirednessKills Sun 22-Jul-12 20:24:33

Worry - don't worry grin

I understand what you are saying, but, IME, children are far more tolerant of difference than adults sad

loveroflife Sun 22-Jul-12 20:24:53

It may be evident that you aren't church goers - people tend to ask questions and it will be difficult to lie about why you haven't regularly attended etc.

Also, you can't go then stop when ds gets in, you will have to keep attending and how will that fit in with your child be involved in reg worship etc?

Have your thought about how you will carry on the teaching at home or whether ds is to be baptised or confirmed?

Good luck with whatever decision you make.

Rosebud05 Sun 22-Jul-12 20:26:08

I'm with blu. You can't possibly know which is the 'best' school for your dd before you visit them both, preferably more than once.

I find it a bit distasteful when people talk about 'high SEN, EAL, FSM' as though their own child may be contaminated in some way by contact with children with different backgrounds. Who knows? Maybe one day your children or mine may have SEN or be on FSM or, if one of us moved abroad, be one of the children who speak a different language at home. I hate the thought of children being lumped under some anacronym with loads of assumptions being made about them.

Visit both schools, see how your dd does in nursery and do bear in mind that there'll be an awful lot of people drilling you as to why you found God the year before your eldest child starts school and lots of praying and 'voluntary' donations to the Church to be made over the next 8+ years grin.

worrywortisworrying Sun 22-Jul-12 20:26:22

Thanks tiredness smile

baconcrisps Sun 22-Jul-12 20:26:35

sooty we haven't decided. We didn't go today as we were discussing it and still haven't made up our minds.

tiredness yes I agree that it wouldn't be a good example which is why I thought we had decided not to do it. Just having a crisis of non faith I guess. I don't have an issue of high numbers of kids with SEN, I do if there isn't enough TA's additional support etc to properly support them and the NT kids. I suspect, though don't know, that there is usually a shortage/delay in Getting the proper support.

Floggingmolly Sun 22-Jul-12 20:30:53

Would attending church for 6 months really move you from 15th to 3rd place in the list of criteria? hmm. Best not believe all you hear.

lemonpie7 Sun 22-Jul-12 20:30:57

You want your child to be offered a place in a church school

Therefore you are prepared to attend church, learn more about the culture and faith of the anglican church.

The church exists to support the community and expain and demonstrate the faith.

You are the community, and are asking for support (educationally), and are willing to see the faith explained and demonstrated.

That seems to be to be an example of the system WORKING, nothing devious or hypocritical there, as far as Ican see.

baconcrisps Sun 22-Jul-12 20:31:48

lover we wouldn't lie. Absolutely clear on that. From what I have heard, LOTS of parents attend the 2x per month for 18 months for the place and then it's special occasional only. The church acknowledges this and are, I assume fine with it, as some must stay on. Dd would not be christened.

baconcrisps Sun 22-Jul-12 20:34:23

floggingmolly we don't know. Probably not.

Would love some thoughts on moving DD twice in 2 years. Will it really be disruptive? Will she just make new friends as she's so young anyway?

loveroflife Sun 22-Jul-12 20:42:27

I'm surprised the church acknowleges it - they are simply saying here's the rules, play by it.

Would you continue attending once dd got in? I just can't see the school saying: "Well, you did the time to get in, now in you're in, don't worry about going to Church apart from Xmas, Easter etc, surely it must be also regular attendence once you're at school otherwise what's the point?"

If the above is the case, then I am amazed at the hypocrisy of the school!

loveroflife Sun 22-Jul-12 20:44:20

Oh and I'm sure she won't be disrupted, not every child in that nursery will go into the school for a number of different reasons...

They are so small, the friendships will all change and if she does make some firm friends, doesn't mean she can't be friends with them just because they attend different schools....

Sirzy Sun 22-Jul-12 20:44:38

The problem is lover unfortunately the school can't force parents to attend the church. They can encourage them and try to make the children want to but they can hardly go and drag the family out of bed on a sunday morning!

loveroflife Sun 22-Jul-12 20:49:01

But Sirzy then the school is as bad as the parents!

Very simple: how can a school be a faith school unless the children regularly attend Church?

I would even expect that if they didn't regularly attend, the school would have the power to ask them to re-consider their place. It just doesn't make sense, the teaching wouldn't be consistent as the church should surely supplement and enhance a faith school curriculum - they go hand in hand do they not?

Goldenbear Sun 22-Jul-12 20:50:13


I agree with Lemonpie and it was my understanding that Cof E schools now had that remit to reach out to the community. It is the purpose of a Church within a community to reach out to it, it is not about and I quote putting,'nice Christians into safe places.'!

It is the OP's local school she should be able to use it!

Sirzy Sun 22-Jul-12 20:50:29

What are the school supposed to do?

If you start removing places for things that are out of the childs control is that really fair?

I do agree with you that the two should go hand in hand but that is up to the parents ultimately not the school.

baconcrisps Sun 22-Jul-12 20:51:31

sirzy exactly. If dd did want to go to Sunday School once there, that would be fine. I used to go and still turned out atheist.

lover by setting out the criteria so explicitly, they must acknowledge it happens. They can't withdraw the place once accepted so all they can do is encourage it

Donnella Sun 22-Jul-12 20:53:37

I believe that faith schools are morally reprehensible and are a factor which denegrates mosst organised religions to the status of cults. If you, considering your beliefs, are willing to participate in this then I feel it puts you on shaky moral ground on several counts.
I do understand the desire for both consistency and high educational standards for your chld, but at any cost?

Sirzy Sun 22-Jul-12 20:53:40

But Bacon if you CHOOSE to send her to a church school (ie not a case of there being no other schools) then surely you should be encouraging her to be part of the church community by attending church?

baconcrisps Sun 22-Jul-12 21:00:15

sirzy No, I may be choosing to send her to the closest school, outstanding school, school that will provide consistency in EYFS education. The church bit is incidental (to me)

loveroflife Sun 22-Jul-12 21:00:36

I still can't believe that you have to attend to get in, but then once you're in not attend *Off to ponder about life*

Sirzy Sun 22-Jul-12 21:02:21

So that makes you hypocritical if you pretend to have a faith and then ignore that when it is a major part of the schools ethos. I seriously struggle to understand why you would want to send a child to a school when you are openly saying your unwilling to join in the wider community of the school.

loveroflife Sun 22-Jul-12 21:02:53

But bacon, you are then (covertly) saying to dd this is how you play the system to get a result (if you don't encourage her to attend church when she is at school?)

What happens if she says Mum I feel like I should attend church regularly, as this is what my school believes in?

MerryMarigold Sun 22-Jul-12 21:07:38

I wouldn't. The other school sounds great tbh. I would have left her where she was and claimed the 15 hours free, then moved on to the other school - which sounds better tbh. I don't think church schools provide a better education and I AM a Christian. It's not worth lying for to be more 'exclusive', more middle class, less diverse etc.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Sun 22-Jul-12 21:08:25

I'd have my bum on a pew quicker than you could say hypocrite.

It's not ou that should have something to feel guilty about, it's the system that is making you plays these games to stand a chance of getting into your nearest school.

I wouldn't like the sound of the other school tbh because of the high number of starters and leavers. I think that is disruptive.

Whether going to the other school will be disruptive for your dd or not depends entirely on your dd, so you are the only one who can say. Some children would take it in their stride and have no problem. Others would find it very disruptive and it would be unsettling for them.

overtherooftops Sun 22-Jul-12 21:10:15

My friends mum is a vicar and its a standing joke they get a new "flock" around three months for baptism, two years for primary and year 5 for secondary.

Having said that my dc were only none Catholics in their class and head advised for me to have them confirmed purely so they would get in the Catholic very oversubscribed secondary school.

LeeCoakley Sun 22-Jul-12 21:11:31

How do you know about the high number of starters and leavers? And what's high? 5 or more in a class each year? These aren't rumours started by the pseuds are they?

Adversecamber Sun 22-Jul-12 21:19:16

If you do send your DD to a CofE school as an atheist please do not come back on to here complaining about aspects of her education linked directly to the beliefs taught and ascribed to at her school.

mummytofive Sun 22-Jul-12 21:25:20

we are c of e, but our nearest school is a catholic school. my dd got in on a low intake year, we were in catagory 5 as practising christian. skip 2 years, our ds is in a high birth rate year, we are still in catagory 5.. he got a place due to being a statemented child, but 4 children with siblings at the school have not got a place. we live on the same street as the school, one of his friends who didnt get a place backgarden backs on to us. as it is, he is now going to a special school. skip one year to the future and i am now in a predicament of ds3 not getting a place as thou he has a sibling we are still catagory 5 and the birth rate has increased again.. i am looking to a future of having 3 children in 3 different primary schools. cant move eldest as no school places at the other local schools are full in her year. what i am saying, is if you decide to do this, look at the admission criteria over the last few years and ask how far down did they go with the list in these years and what is expected in the next few years as your dc2 will need to follow and that means you sign up to the church till dc2 is in or have a nail bitting future, like me! good luck.

tiggytape Sun 22-Jul-12 21:49:39

I think you are underestimating the faith element involved in an oversubscribed CofE school to be honest. Not all CofE schools are overtly religious but you can bet the ones with 18 levels of faith criteria will be!

And you can hardly drop your own church attendance easily with another child on the way who will be in an even higher birthrate year group and potentially reliant on you still attending church to get a place.

The faith element in many CofE schools isn't just 'learning about God and Harvest Festivals.' God's message to Christian people is taught as fact because of course to Christians it is fact not a matter of opinion. It isn't just assemblies and R.E but often creeps into other aspects of the curriculum - everything from bible stories in literacy to approved forms of sex education sensitive to Christian views. Church schools often have strong clergy links and members of the church acting as governors and visitng the school to lead prayers, teach the children about Jesus etc.

Basically it isn't a few months of churchgoing to secure a 'good' school - it is signing up for a whole ethos and way of life. Which is fine if that fits in with your beliefs and you are happy that your child is raised in a Christian faith but not so great if you will object to a very religious schooling and daily influence on her life.

MrsDimples Sun 22-Jul-12 21:59:01


Faith schools should be kept for children from families that believe in the faith.

BuntyPenfold Sun 22-Jul-12 22:03:35

Christians are meant to be spreading the faith aren't they?

So faith schools should be admitting non-Christians, in order to try to convert them.

Sirzy Sun 22-Jul-12 22:05:45

They do admit non-christians Bunty.

the issue here is the OP wanting to lie to push herself up the admission criteria.

TirednessKills Sun 22-Jul-12 22:06:35

Bunty grin

BuntyPenfold Sun 22-Jul-12 22:09:55

OP God will know you are lying smile

Let's see whether He stops you....

waterlego Sun 22-Jul-12 22:13:49

Good point tiggytape. In fact, the aspects mentioned in the OP (learning about the Christian faith, singing hymns, taking part in assemblies) are all present in my DCs' non-faith school.

Do have a look at your other school OP. My DCs attend a school with high rates of FSM and pupils with SEN. It is a wonderful school. The pastoral care is excellent and behaviour is good. Without intending to stealth boast, my DD is very able academically and we feel she is being sufficiently challenged at the school. We couldn't be happier.

AnotherTeacherMum Sun 22-Jul-12 22:27:22

I am also an atheist and my dc go to a CE school- we didn't need to do the 'pretend to be practising CE' business because it is a VC school and admissions are set by the LA not school, hence it's just done on distance. Its our local school and very much part of the community.

I feel very strongly that the taxes of non- believers pay for the school just as much as those of believers and so we should all have equal access to it.

If religious groups want to have schools that they can exclude people from that would be fine- if they and not the taxpayer paid for it.

In my area there is a CE, a RC and a community school. My taxes fund them all equally so why should I only have access to one out of three.

I do have to say that whilst I explain to my children that Mummy and Daddy don't believe in God/ religion we teach them to be VERY respectful of the beliefs of those that do- my parents are very committed catholics and I understand how important their faith is to them.

complexo Sun 22-Jul-12 22:34:22

You know what?
My child goes to a community school exactly like the one you are describing, my hypocrate 'friends' felt 'so sorry' for us (read felt superior) and I agonized for months. But...the school could have not been better and the end of the school year was quite emotional and sad. Yes there are lots of poor people and muslins but the teachers and all the members of the staff work very hard and they are really lovely and kind to he children as well as strict when they need to be. My child made loads of friends and she has been so happy that I don't care how much their parents earn, what language they speak a home or if they take free school dinner.
But if your child is too precious to attend a mixed school so fake it and pretend you are religious...lots os other parents do but that is not one of the things I want to teach my child to do...
Anyway, I have been through lots os Ofsted Inspections and know other people and institutions who had too and theirpersonal stories...Ofsted for me does not cunt for much.
And I am a Christian by the way.

complexo Sun 22-Jul-12 22:36:52

oh and the Chrstmas celebrations at my child's mixed school were a lot better than the catholic one, said my friend who attendd both and her daughter goes to the catholic...

baconcrisps Sun 22-Jul-12 22:44:38

Last post (for now).
We would not lie. Either about having faith or the length of time we had been attending. We would simply have turned up, filled out the forms truthfully and seen what happened (whether they processed us as cat 15 or bent their rules and as cat 3. We would not have asked them to bend rules.)
Would not discourage dd from attending church if she wishes.
We would not complain about a christian school prompting a christian message.

Thank you for all commentary, we have (I think) decided NOT to attend church. We will visit both schools and may still apply as a Cat 15. As a previous poster said, it may be that the time I heard about rules having been bent could have previous church attendance so this could all have been pointless pontificating. Plus we would then have same dilemma with dc2 as others have pointed out.

Dd will attend the c of e nursery as we can't afford to keep her in preschool. Hopefully she will not be too disrupted by too many changes.

BsshBossh Sun 22-Jul-12 22:46:58

You'd bound to be found out eventually and other (genuinely C of E & practicing) parents/guardians/teachers at the school might be offended or angry or simply hmm at you. In my DD's RC school, all the parents of her friends see each other on Sunday at Church; so do her teacher and head teacher.

baconcrisps Sun 22-Jul-12 22:49:42

Grr I lied about last post!
complexion dd IS precious, but I would not have been faking religion. The admissions criteria do not include having to have one, swear on a bible or take communion. Simply to turn up.

Anyway moot point as will not be doing it.

Rubirosa Sun 22-Jul-12 22:53:35

I think it's completely wrong that there are state funded faith schools - especially when they deprive children of a place in their local school! Given that it is a shit system, fulfilling whatever criteria they want to get your DD into her local school seems morally fine to me.

baconcrisps Sun 22-Jul-12 22:54:37

DH is turning internet off so this REALLY is last post now!
Bssh "found out*? At what? We would not be lying or misleading anyone, simply following admissions rules, though not for as long as they state.
Within the 18 categories are multiple churches so all parents and children do not attend the same one so not worried dd would "miss out" plus have said if she wants to go I will take her.

franticallyjugglinglife Sun 22-Jul-12 22:56:24

Good post by tiggytape. I couldn't agree more. I had almost exactly the same dilemma as you op, but decided to stick to my principles and send dd to the primary with higher sn/fsm etc. I also had the same worries, but I absolutely made the right decision. There are a number of reasons:

*i am so glad when I talk to parents of the c of e school that dd is not made to feel 'different' because she doesn't attend church, or Sunday school, or have a family bible that she can take to class and tell stories about, or not knowing her favourite bible story. Because that is what happens in our local outstanding c of e school. And I am so pleased dd is not part of it.
*I am delighted that dd is mixing with children of all different abilities and backgrounds. It is turning her into a tolerant, caring and compassionate little girl who understands that not everyone is the same. Life lesson learnt.
*I love the fact that it's not all about standards and academia at dds school, because it is at the 'outstanding' school - they have an outrageously competitive HT (and parents!) where results are everything. We have a wide and varied curriculum which isn't all centred on the classroom, and dd loves it. And do you know what, our VA score knocks socks off theirs, and that's what matters IMO.

I know that not all faith schools will be as I described, but i really do thank my lucky stars every time I walk past it on the way to dd's school that I made the call I did.

Go visit them both. Look at the underlying data for ofsted and sats etc. the ofsted grade doesn't necessarily mean it is a happy school in my view. And work out whats most important for you and your dd - don't think this will be hypocrisy (because that's what it is) for the next 12-18 months. It will be for the next 7 years. Can you carry that off?

complexo Sun 22-Jul-12 23:04:53

Yes you would not be faking religion, and said so many times, I apologise.
But I know so many who do (and so many who doesn't)....just reminds me how unfair the whole system is. Every child should have a real outstanding eduacation ay whatever school they go to (not only outstanding on the Ofsted report)...
The hypocrates in my community are the ones who look down on us and make nasty comments on my child's school just because their catholic school is perceived to be 'better', which I don't believe it is.
That is why posts like yours makes me sad.
I cried a lot when I received the result about my daughters school but I didn't know much, just what people was telling me and the women wearing hijabs at the school gate. First time I went there for a visit I was so glad my child got a place there and I was s relieved too, I was grateful. And still am.
Sorry if my post is harsh, I don't speak English as first language either lol, it is hard for me to express feelings.
Good luck with whatever decision, you both sound like good parents and even if your daughter doesn't get into an 'outstanding' one, I am sure the support at home will make up for it.

malinois Sun 22-Jul-12 23:05:51


Faith schools should be kept for children from families that believe in the faith.

You do realise that many of us have no choice?

DS can either go to the CoE school in the nearest village, or the CoE school in the next nearest village, or the CoE school in the village after that - get the picture?

YANBU to want to do everything you can to get your child in the right school, however I do feel you would be being rather hypocritical to lie.

Both my partner and I are atheists, but we applied to the local catholic school for our dd as it was the best one around, we had little expectation in regards to her being offered a place due to us coming last on the criteria list and it being popular, however luck prevailed and we managed. My dd flourished in her school and whole heartedly embraced the religion. As a result we now attend catholic church every sunday with my dd and her younger brother, and they are both on the path to being baptised, with the congregation fully accepting my partner and I's belief.

So in a way I'm basically saying that just because you don't tick all the right boxes doesn't necessarily mean you won't get in, I just took the long way round to tell you grin

EndoplasmicReticulum Sun 22-Jul-12 23:09:48

malinois we're in the same situation.

No choice - which is presumably why they don't mind letting in the heathens to the village school.

complexo Sun 22-Jul-12 23:19:42

I tottaly agree with franticallyjugglinglife's great post.

Kayano Sun 22-Jul-12 23:33:13

I am going to church just for this.

I am a raging hypocrite but when pass rates are 94% vs 72% then I have no problem with this.

Kayano Sun 22-Jul-12 23:37:59

And it actually is my local school btw I'm just not prepared to put my daughters education at risk due to my principles or beliefs. They may not even be right!

How do I know if there is a God anyway? I'll just go to church and get on with it.

Leanderbaer Sun 22-Jul-12 23:51:38

2 min walk...... Sounding very good to me. smile

I don't know why you posted, helpful and lovely though they are, I can't see what MN'ers can add.

You and your DP need to make a decision one way or the other and once you do that I wouldn't give it a moments more thought.

Hmm, you say it's only two minutes walk away...... wink

lovebunny Mon 23-Jul-12 00:09:17

go to church!
you'll give your daughter a community as well as the chance of a place in a good school.

the Lord moves in mysterious ways. currently, He seems to be moving via church schools...wink

WinstonThePony Mon 23-Jul-12 00:24:24

it is really up to you and your husband, but how do you really feel about a school that excludes Jewish and Muslims, people of other religions, atheists? What would that demonstrate to your child? I knew of a child that attended such a primary school and the bullying (which exists in every school) was based around religious insults, the chief one of which was 'you Jew'! (none of whom attended needless to say)
Depends what you consider 'education' to be I suppose.

Kayano Mon 23-Jul-12 00:43:31

It doesn't exclude them, it just doesn't give them priority.

WinstonThePony Mon 23-Jul-12 00:46:34

on a practical level that excludes them though, doesn't it?

Kayano Mon 23-Jul-12 00:50:24

Depends on area. My catholic secondary had a very high % of Muslims. Very high. It didn't matter because the teaching was the same regardless

Of course in oversubscribed areas yes it could seem to exclude them

WinstonThePony Mon 23-Jul-12 00:57:00

yes it was the oversubscription that I meant, not that it could seem to exclude them, it just does, essentially.
It's like these rather pricey after school clubs that have to be paid a term in advance, which could seem to exclude children from low income families.

threeleftfeet Mon 23-Jul-12 00:57:40

A Muslim friend of mine sends her DC to the Catholic school as there's no Muslim option here, and she'd rather a religious school over a non-religious one, even though it's a different religion. She says she reckons the discipline is better.

As an atheist I found this surprising / interesting, it wasn't something I'd considered before.

WinstonThePony Mon 23-Jul-12 01:00:35

so...(continuing my little rant) get these right on atheist types who are probably smugly congratulating themselves on raising their kids in a multi kulti area, yet now wish their little ones to attend a socially exclusive school?

Kayano Mon 23-Jul-12 01:04:59

Well that is their call. My call is to c
Suck it up and go to church.

Their DC might believe , why send them to a poorer school for your beliefs?

Not for me, I'll send the dc to the best school I can by whatever criteria I have to follow and let them make up their own mind at the end

WinstonThePony Mon 23-Jul-12 01:30:07

after years of indoctrination I suppose they might 'believe' by the end of it, yes.
I know we all just want the 'best' for our DC though, no harm in questioning what that is, exactly.

Kayano Mon 23-Jul-12 01:36:48

I went through years and I don't believe. I got a fantastic education though and am very grateful.

They don't brainwash kids, just teach them about the religion. They don't make people believe you know

Hownoobrooncoo Mon 23-Jul-12 01:38:42

Go for it if it is a good school and you pay your taxes. Why should you or your. Hilda miss out.

brdgrl Mon 23-Jul-12 01:39:20

I wouldn't. Your original plan was to send her to a school which you were happy enough about (and which sounds better in some ways, anyway!). I'd just stick to that.

Kayano Mon 23-Jul-12 01:39:50

Hilda bloody hates it when she misses out let me tell you wink

WinstonThePony Mon 23-Jul-12 01:44:29

They don't brainwash kids, just teach them about the religion.
I do have some female relatives who attended an RC secondary, and what they told me about their PSHE (or whatever their school called it) did sound alot like indoctrination, yes.

Hownoobrooncoo Mon 23-Jul-12 01:48:48

Hilda - bloody IPad.! Actually about time Hilda made a comeback if all the other oldie names have!

Hownoobrooncoo Mon 23-Jul-12 01:50:38

I attended an RC secondary nearly 30 yrs ago. No brainwashing or much religion though they did show some unpleasant abortion videos and wheel in the missionary nuns to try and recruit.

Kayano Mon 23-Jul-12 02:01:24

We had 'relationship and marriage' workshops (and then they quickly mentioned about sex but then carried on quickly) lol

Yes you make it clear you think they indoctrine kids and brainwash them from your 'strategically placed quotation marks'

But all your posts are 'I have a friend, my friend told me...'

I went to one and I don't believe so maybe tone down your outrage a bit.

WinstonThePony Mon 23-Jul-12 02:07:12

But all your posts are 'I have a friend, my friend told me...'
if you mean me, show me where I mentioned any 'friend'?
I am not 'outraged', just discussing and questioning.

Kayano Mon 23-Jul-12 02:09:22

Well 'female relatives' then

The point being you have no personal experience but seem to look down on the schools for seemingly brainwashing children.

WinstonThePony Mon 23-Jul-12 02:17:47

but you stated that 'all my posts' said 'i have a friend, a friend told me' when I said nothing of the sort, I mentioned 'female relatives' once so how that is 'all my posts' is beyond me. I know what close family members have told me about such places, sorry if that is not 'personal' enough for you. Obviously if you attended such a school, you are going to be defensive. As I said, I am simply questioning and discussing, not condemning or 'looking down on'.

Kayano Mon 23-Jul-12 02:20:59

What did they actually tell you about 'such places' you haven't said...

We learned about all religions with an emphasis on Christianity and were taught acceptance

Acceptance to respect that people don't believe
And that led most of my class to accept that hardly any of us actually believed

WinstonThePony Mon 23-Jul-12 02:23:00

oh I better not say exactly, but it was to do with reproduction..
lol @ that led most of my class to accept that hardly any of us actually believed

overtherooftops Mon 23-Jul-12 09:09:21

One of my dc has ended up very religious. The other is not at all. One was confirmed as Catholic when the rest of the class where despite not being baptised as Catholic or holy communion. The other did not... both same school system.

From my experience in schools C of E are not as full on. Hardly any one in the c of e schools went to church, lots in the Catholic do.

The only issue I ever had was when they organised a two day fun activities preperation trip in SCHOOL time for eight year old children who were being confirmed and one of my dc who wasn't being confirmed had to stay in school.

tiggytape Mon 23-Jul-12 09:26:58

It is impossible to judge how religious a school is without visiting.

There are certainly CofE schools where prayers are said three times a day, children are taken (during school time) to the local church to worship or learn about baptism, the clergy visit the children at school, the teaching staff hold overtly religious views which are expressed in lessons and at playtime not just in R.E, the other children come from overtly religious families and share their beliefs and experiences eg in show and tell, the other children all go to church and their families all know each other through this community, the end of year prize giving includes prayers for all the parents, sex education follows an approved format, there are quiet areas for prayer in each classroom, children are invited to share aspects of their faith with others.......

And then there are CofE schools which happen to be the only school in the village and which every local child attends They have a huge mix of backgrounds and faiths and barely any religious participation is expected or required.

The admission criteria are usually a starting point for determining how religious the school experience will be. A school that has community places and room for all who apply is likely to be less overtly religious than a school that has 18 categories to sift out the most faithfull worshippers from the casual applicants. The OP's CofE school sounds like it belongs much more to the 'overtly religious school of choice' category than the 'happens to be the local school' category. Only she would be able to make that judgement though by visiting and looking at the website. And how much an overtly relgious upbringing would bother her is also only something she can decide when weighing up the merits of each available school.

Morloth Mon 23-Jul-12 09:30:46

What do you think is the best thing for your DD? Weighing up all the variables? Once you think you know what that is do that.

You would be a hypocrit to pretend a religion for this, but hey, I would do pretty much anything necessary to give my kids the best so I would probably do it.

I have actually changed my mind on this over the years, before I found out about the UK schools system properly I was appalled at this behaviour. Then the crunch came for my DS while we were there and the schools offered were just completely ridiculous (a looooong way from home) so we went private.

baconcrisps Mon 23-Jul-12 12:13:35

The 18 categories depend on which church you attend (there is a defined hierarchy) and whether you have a sibling place, not how devout you are.

<checks name change is still working> it wasn't the "multi culti" thing causing a wobble over other school. Dd's preschool and our friends are v ethnically diverse. It was more the white british tattooed fat smoking swearing parents I saw picking up on last day. I am not proud of myself for this

complexo Mon 23-Jul-12 12:25:56

The white trash you describe are parents not teachers, why would them be detrimental for you child' education? Again you don't want your child to mix with the 'wrong' kind of people that is fine. But if she did, she would probably learn how to deal with people from all walks of life. They are poor, fat, they smoke, they drink and they have tattoos, God knows they might take drugs too (and rich people sure take drugs aswell) but they are not necessarily bad people and they probably just didn't have the same chances that you had.

baconcrisps Mon 23-Jul-12 14:16:15

I know complexo. I thought I didn't think like this. I am a little ashamed.

Thanks to you (and others) who have pointed out there may well be advantages to the more diverse school. I know and I do agree. As for the free meals and SEN, well dd is only 3 so may turn out to have SEN and of course am only 2 redundancies away from free meals. I am embarrassed that I have thought about this in the way that I have.

complexo Mon 23-Jul-12 15:06:00

Don't be ashamed or embarrassed it is only natural that you want your child to spend school years in the environment that you feel more comfortable with. At least you have a choice and I didn't. Luckily mine community school is very good you have to go see yours. I'm Christian but I don't attend churches or follow the bible so I don't want my child to be forces to do so, it will make her confused I think. She has a very catholic friend who came to sleep over one day. The friend really struggled as we don't have a bible to read before bed and I don't know how to sing and pray like her parents do before sleep time....she was afraid God wouldn't be happy because she didn't follow the religious routine...I don't want my child to be so dependent on religion like this.... You need to go and see both schools and apply for both giving priority to the one you feel more comfortable with regardless faith or Ofsted results.

WinstonThePony Mon 23-Jul-12 15:13:26

* the white british tattooed fat smoking swearing parents*
see if you said that about any other ethnic group you would be picked up here on MN and in RL immediately for racism or intolerance.
I am white, British, slightly overweight, I have a tattoo on my ankle and I smoke and swear (OK not at the school gates!)
I also have a university degree, my own business, and want the best for my children. Do not need supercilious twits making assumptions and looking down their noses at me for being a size 16 or whatever. Thanks. Now I remember the real reason for not choosing a church school.

Chandon Mon 23-Jul-12 15:26:15

Well, OP, it's up to you.

Being a bit ahead of you in the school game, I can assure you Ofsted doesn't mean much at all. I would rather choose a "satisfactory" school that I'd like the atmosphere, other parents and (most importantly) the head of than a selection based on Ofsted.

TBH, I think Ofsted ratings do more harm than good, it really does not mean it is genuinely outstanding, just that they are good at admin, ticking boxes, playing along and maybe they ARE great, or maybe all parents tutor their kids and this gives good results, nothing to do with the school (this was the case at our "outstanding" school).

Trust your instincts, and visit both schools so you can compare.

complexo Mon 23-Jul-12 16:26:05

May I point out that a 'good' community school with high SEN, high free school dinner and high English not 1st language seems more successful than an outstanding school where the people has more disposable income and tutor/push children at home.

Galena Mon 23-Jul-12 20:17:33

We attend church. The church school linked to the church is 'Outstanding'. There are also 2 non-religious schools nearer. DD has a disability so we've been thinking about schools sooner than we need (applications to be in by Jan). The church school's attitude STINKS! The other 2 schools are both really positive and lovely. We're choosing the one which was in Special Measures 4 years ago.

Outstanding church schools aren't necessarily fabulous!

complexo Mon 23-Jul-12 21:12:54

Now I'm curious to know why the school's attitude stinks towards SEN...?

RichTeas Tue 24-Jul-12 00:52:37

Hypocritical. All these CofE schools being attended by children of non-believers. If you don't believe you should support the local school, if everyone did that local schools would be better and CofE schools would be fewer.

Kayano Tue 24-Jul-12 00:57:15

My local school is the religious school though. I'd have to go further away.

Anyway why shouldn't the children of non-believers go? Having non believing parents does not mean a child can't believe, same as two religious parents can have an atheist child.

I see absolutely nothing wrong with following the criteria and getting your child into the best (and sometimes local) school you can.

Galena Tue 24-Jul-12 09:26:17

Ok, complexo this is long and not terribly interesting, but you did ask...

DD has a mobility problem so she takes a long time to get up/down stairs. The school's ICT suite is upstairs so I asked what would happen in the event of a fire when she's upstairs and I was told 'Well, she's still small, someone could carry her' which is not only illegal, but doesn't seem a terribly long-term solution! Also, if she was unable to get upstairs it 'doesn't matter because the classroom computers are networked, so she can stay in the classroom with a TA'. This, to me, didn't seem terribly inclusive!

I also wasn't sure whether DD would be toilet trained by the time she started school and when I mentioned this I was told that they had a child at the school already who was in nappies still - and they were looking at providing an area for changing nappies. This other child had been at the school for 8 months already!

And finally, (as if those 2 weren't enough!) they would not let me talk to/contact the SENCO at all because 'she's only in school one day a week and on that day she's in the classroom, so there is no way you can talk to her'! We'll have a lot to do with a SENCO, and if I'm not able to talk to her, it's far less than ideal!

It just seemed that they very much wanted to adapt DD to fit into the school, rather than the other way round. The ex-special measures school had thought about possible adaptations they would need to make if DD went to their school BEFORE we'd even gone for a first visit! Now we've confirmed that's where we want her to go, they are using the next year (before she goes) to get things set up so it's in place before she goes.

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