Faith schools

(37 Posts)
lisson Thu 07-Mar-13 12:47:34

DS got into a faith secondary school last week on the basis that he attends a feeder primary and he goes to church once in a while. Its the best state secondary in town and its results are far better than the other comprehensives.
So, I bumped into a neighbour today whose children will be moving up to secondary in a couple of years, but they don't go to our church (or possibly any church - I am not sure about that). She was complaining about how my DC will go to a better school than hers.
I didn't know what to say. The only thing the school selects on is religion so i have no idea why the results are usually so much better. Its got nothing to do with our religion though. I left feeling guilty, as though my DCs will have an unfair advantage in life. But she wasn't angry that MY Dc are getting that advantage, only that her DC won't and I can see her point there.
What is the justification for faith schools and how do you explain why one school has better results than the next when they take from the same demographic??

lisson Thu 07-Mar-13 22:40:00

so what happens to those children tiggytape? the ones who can't get into the local catholic comp and don't fall into the catchment for the next nearest 2 or 3?

and yes, when I think of it you have hit the nail on the head: the word for what I encountered today is resentment.

The thing that i don't understand is that if parents are unhappy with their child's school, then why don't they get together to pressure to do something about improving the school?

Dromedary Thu 07-Mar-13 22:49:17

I'd guess that most parents don't want to spend years of their lives trying to get their child's school to improve. Maybe they're busy enough, or they find that kind of challenge difficult or intimidating. I have made quite a bit of effort to try to get my child's school to improve - I can tell you that the school does not thank you for it, quite the opposite, and is hugely resistant to parent suggestions. Most people prefer not to stick their necks out and get labelled as a PITA.
So if your child has got into a school that is already good, and you can just happily send your child there, then I'm not surprised that there is some resentment if your child has been selected because they have been to church a bit. The fact is that it isn't fair.
It's also unfair in my view that the quality of a child's education is so hugely affected by where they live. Some live next door to the best grammar in the country, and others end up having to go to a violent sink school. There are far too many postcode lotteries in this country.

Copthallresident Thu 07-Mar-13 22:54:55

lisson I know exactly how your neighbour feels because 15 years ago this week I discovered my DD had not got into any of the state primary schools within half a mile of my house. It came as a complete bolt from the blue because living so close to so many schools I assumed there would be a place somewhere. It turned out our road was in a black hole of school provision and the pressure on places so great that whilst we were first on the waiting list for one the family next door but one were 15th. We were one of 120 families just in our suburb within the borough not to have any school place. There followed a very stressful period of appeals, letters to MPs, and finally the 120 children were offered places in a portacabin at the least popular school in the area, where they had space because so many had left the higher years. We took the hint, I went back to work so my daughter could go to a private school.

Meanwhile our neighbour two doors away was completely exempt from all this angst because she had been taking her children to mass for the last two years to get the necessary priests reference to gain access to the local Catholic School, irony was DH is Catholic, our DD was baptised Catholic but he was totally in agreement with me that we did not want our children to go to a faith school. I did not let it get in the way of my relationship with my neighbour, I try to be a rational human being in my interaction with others but underneath of course the unfairness really pissed me off.

Since then I have watched the primary school that serves our current Parish transformed from one that served a cross section of the community to one that has the lowest percentage FSM in the country, whilst the percentage in the community school next door is ten times that number. Call me cynical but I do not believe there has been a sudden spontaneous shift in the affluence of the congregation. It had everything to do with the fact that the acute shortage of school places means that the selection criteria that were meant to ensure the school served the Catholic community now make hypocrites out of parents and exclude those children whose parents don't have the knowledge, resources or time to fulfil them, and yes, divides neighbourhoods.

Copthallresident Thu 07-Mar-13 22:58:21

Oh and we did go along to the unpopular school thinking it may be snobbery, and we could change it from inside, the Head denied the problems highlighted by Ofsted, and it turned out the parents leaving from the older years had given up on trying to effect change.

tiggytape Thu 07-Mar-13 23:13:35

so what happens to those children tiggytape? the ones who can't get into the local catholic comp and don't fall into the catchment for the next nearest 2 or 3?

The council finds them a place at the school nearest to their house that has spaces available.
That might not be very near their house at all. It might be in the next county / borough and there might be 10 schools closer to their house that they can't get into. The school they get offered might not be a good school (in fact in some areas only 'poor' schools have spaces unallocated and going spare) and the journey to get there will probably be horrendous. You can see why it is suddenly a big issue for a lot of people.

webwiz Fri 08-Mar-13 08:35:26

In my town the faith school isn't the best so we are allowed to send out children there without resentment from the neighbours.

Blu Fri 08-Mar-13 16:50:38

If a school takes those who regularly attend church, at whatever hour on a Sunday morning, you automatically exclude the chaotic families with catastrophic parenting who can rarely get their childen to school on time, do not feed their kids properley, etc etc. The truly dissaffected parents whose children stand little chance in school.

Any form of selection mitigates in favour of those who put themselves up for selective schools and processes and the ultimate intake.

Quite apart from excluding those who would never get to church, or the banding test, or the 11+ exams, or the sports scholarship assessment day on a weekend morning,( or ever) a bit of a selection process creates a frisson of competition and the competitive and aspirational and pushy immediately latch on.

It is the psychological failing of the appeal of a really good comp. No competition in getting into a comp! wink

I'm not saying all parents whose children go to faith schools are like that, but the effect of a few is self-perpetuating, and it only takes a higher ratio than average to set the stats going in an ascending spiral.

Schmedz Sat 09-Mar-13 00:06:25

As someone who grew up abroad, I do find it strange that state funded schools can be allowed to select on the basis of 'faith'. Families of genuine faith will teach their children their faith regardless of whether their children's school does or not.
And not all families of genuine faith automatically get places for their children at these schools either! My eldest failed to receive an offer at her nearest faith primary school despite the fact that I have been a believer and church attendee throughout my entire life. I feel deeply uncomfortable with using that fact as a criteria for admitting my offspring to a particular school! I would actually rather non believers got in so they had a chance to hear the message, although some of the actual 'faith' that is displayed in some of these schools is somewhat questionable anyway.

prh47bridge Sat 09-Mar-13 08:14:38

Schmedz - The reason we have this situation lies in history. The churches were involved in running schools long before the state got involved. The state's first involvement in education was to provide grants to support these schools. The church still owns the land and buildings for faith schools (usually through a trust or foundation) and VA schools have to find a proportion of any capital costs (currently 10% although it used to be much higher).

MothershipG Sat 09-Mar-13 08:51:03

I am resentful!

As an atheist I pay the same taxes as my (lovely & fab) next door neighbour, yet because of her faith her DC got to choose from about 5 secondaries ranging from one of the top performing in the country to good.

My DC got to choose from the worst performing schools i.e. the ones that had spaces because no one wants to send their children there. In the end we scraped into an ok school in the second round of offers.

So yes I am resentful that you think that it's then my job to pull an under performing school up, of course I will do everything I can to support my children's education and the school they attend, but realistically after the faith schools have creamed off all the motivated, juggling, parents just how much support do you think those of us who are left will get???

So, yes, I am resentful! But can I just add I don't in any way blame you, OP, or my lovely next door neighbour, I blame the system that has put us both in this position.

BoundandRebound Sat 09-Mar-13 09:46:51

MothershipG I agree

I am resentfull against the system not the people benefitting from it

muminlondon Mon 11-Mar-13 16:23:14

phr47bridge: 'The church still owns the land and buildings for faith schools (usually through a trust or foundation'

True perhaps of older buildings, but the buildings for newer secondary schools are often owned by the council and leased to the school at a peppercorn rent. This is true of the new RC school in Richmond upon Thames which was bought by the council at a cost of £8.5 million from the adult education college.

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