my son is being punished for our religious stance

(303 Posts)
LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 03:43:14

...this is a bold statement but its how I feel.

There isn't any point to my post but the subject is keeping me awake so thought it might help to write it down on a public forum and see if I'm not the only one who is saddened by this.

Basically my DH and I are non religious. I was brought up catholic and he was brought up church of England but somewhere along the line we both lost our faith and sided with reason. Myself particularly...I have a bit of a problem with organised religion. there are personal reasons for this.

Long story short. If we stick to our guns and don't get our boy christened into either Catholicism or church of England, he is going to have to attend the worst school in the borough.

It just really angers me. Why in this day and age do we have to jump through hoops, lie about our beliefs, and subject our children to learning fairy tales as fact, in order to get them into a "good" school?

I have never been so torn about a decision in my life. I'm being pressured by family and friends to get him christened just to get him into a good school. They make me feel guilty by saying things like "do it for your child. I'd do anything for my child...wouldn't you?" It just feels all wrong.

BabyRuSh Tue 09-Apr-13 04:02:51

Don't do it if it doesn't feel right! Just because a school is labelled as bad doesnt mean its a bad environment for your child! Don't believe everything you read. Visit the school for yourself. If you are truly unhappy then I would move to a better area. Personally I wouldn't compromise my (lack of) belief and get my dc christened to tick a box and get them into school. I think it's a bit ott to say he's being punished!

Kiwiinkits Tue 09-Apr-13 05:47:46

I too have a major problem with undertaking a religious ritual, dishonestly, in order to achieve an end. It frankly lacks integrity. Sometimes the schools make exceptions for non-christened children, don't they?

PollyEthelEileen Tue 09-Apr-13 05:49:21

Are the CofE schools better because of their faith ethos?

Kiwiinkits Tue 09-Apr-13 05:50:07

For this reason we did not marry in a church. And we did not christen our kids. And when I became my godchildren's god-parent I refused to avow that I would instruct them in Christianity (I avowed to their parents that I would support the childrens' religious education. That was good enough).

BranchingOut Tue 09-Apr-13 07:09:05

We are from two different religious backgrounds and neither of us is practising, so it would be ludicrous for us to attempt to get into one of the two faith schools very close to me, both of which have highly restrictive faith criteria - think two years church attendance in one case!

So a religious family living in my house would have a choice of two schools (one community and one faith) whereas we only have the community school as a realistic option.

I hear you!

Blessyou Tue 09-Apr-13 07:13:32

Are you talking about high school?
Most CofE primaries round here don't require children to be christened, but do give priority to active church going families.

Iheartcrunchiebars Tue 09-Apr-13 07:16:50

But you still have a choice. You're being given access to free education. I admire the strength of your beliefs. But I'm a Christian and if I lived in an area where there was a standard state and a Jewish faith school I'd just accept that they would go to the standard state school. That's because I've chosen to be a Christian. Like you've chosen not to be.

Have you checked the admissions criteria? You wouldn't have to be christened to get into the c of e school I work at.

Branleuse Tue 09-Apr-13 07:22:58

I wouldnt pretend to be religious. It be more inclined to move to an area with better schools, or suck it up and put him in the state school, or at least check it out

LifeIsBetterInFlipFlops Tue 09-Apr-13 07:35:54

Could you put your own interpretation on it;
Christening - a traditional 'welcome to the world' gathering for nearest and dearest, plus some nice photos for a DC as they look back on their life.
Practicing religion: Look at 'God' and the 'devil' as other words for good and evil. Praying as just an opportunity to contemplate your day/week.
Church attendance; enjoy the hymns and being part of a community.

Just don't sweat all the detail, it's how religions try and explain the world. Look at the big picture; good, evil and be kind.

I know this is simplistic, but could it work for you?

DoesBuggerAll Tue 09-Apr-13 07:38:27

Why should Christian children be punished for your non-religious stance? Why shouldn't they be allowed to be educated at a school of their choosing because your atheist child wants their place? You've got the choice of another school, send your child there, get involved with it, encourage others to do the same and make it as good, if not better than the Catholic and C of E schools. Catholic or C of E childen aren't more intelligent or better behaved that non-religious children you know, it's the closer-knit community, shared values and parental involvement that tends to make for better results.

LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 07:43:25

I have visited the non faith school and have read extensively about it and have asked neighbors with kids about their experiences. One of them said their child went there for 2 years and still did not know her abc's so she got her christened and got her into a faith school and now she.reminiscent really well.

Unfortunately moving is not an option...

LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 07:44:42

That should say doing really well. I had no sleep last night so tired

ChunkyPickle Tue 09-Apr-13 07:46:56

Are you sure about those criteria - around here both the Catholic and CofE schools all have a huge non-religious intake - yes, if you go to church you're higher up the list a touch, but proximity to the school actually counts more than religion!

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 07:47:32

I think this is sooooo wrong and high time something was done. The vast maj of parents are hacked off with it.

In our area it's slightly different but still annoying.The nearest local schools are all CofE. We live in a tight community,kids have grown up together etc.If we want our kids to go to their local school with their peers we have to put up with a CofE school.Anybody can get in(Ofsted not that great) and the vast maj of kids are in no way religious.

Soooooo we're eating tax payers money on something the vast maj don't want.

If churches want religious schools then great but I don't think we as tax payers should be paying for them and they shouldn't be included as catchment schools.

ChunkyPickle Tue 09-Apr-13 07:48:07

Oh, and being Christened wouldn't matter a jot - it's if the parents are practising whatevers and go to church for x years that matters, not the child.

Khaleese Tue 09-Apr-13 07:56:05

Get them christened. Don't be discriminated against due to your faith.

The fact that schools can get away with religious discrimination is appalling. (unless a school funds it's self 100% this whole "its a church school" argument is rubbish. chucking a few thousand in a hundreds of thousand pound pot The lea and therefore the council tax pays for schools)

If it was based on your political stance, colour of skin or your income there would be outrage!

kitsmummy Tue 09-Apr-13 07:56:21

With your choices, I would get my son christened and get him into a good school, rather than send him to a known shite one. In fact, I would do almost anything to avoid sending him to a terrible school.

difficultpickle Tue 09-Apr-13 08:06:17

I think it is good to be honest. I was shocked at the clear out at Subday school once the school applications had been submitted. Clearly loads of parents only attending to get their dcs into our local faith school. Did make me laugh when the head left and the school went from being outstanding to requires improvement. You can count the number of school age children who are regular churchgoers at our church on the fingers of one hand.

LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 08:06:33

The Catholic school will not accept any child who hasn't been christened and who can't get a letter of recommendation from the priest. The c of e school is not as militant. The child doesn't have to be christened but 25 of the 30 places go to children who regularly attend church. child is not an atheist. He is not anything. He is a child. Just as its unfair to label a child a catholic just because their parents are. It's not a choice they have made. If my child wants to be christened when he is older that is his choice. It's this type of labelling that really gets my goat. I know its a pointless rhetorical question, but why should it matter what religion or non religion you are. Education should be about education. These faith schools only serve to separate different groups of people. I remember growing up, everyone in my catholic school seemed to hate the protestants. We were only children who didn't understand WHY we hated them. We just did.

Please note, my father is Muslim and so from a very young age I had my doubts about all religion. I still have nightmares about so called Hell. I was terrified as a child that I was praying to the wrong god and would end up burning in hell.

Anyway I'm waffling now. People I know tell me to stop being selfish and just do it for my child. I know plenty of people who pretend to believe. It seems like the "normal" thing to do.

This county.

difficultpickle Tue 09-Apr-13 08:07:32

I'd add that most of those and nearly all of the choir boys didn't actually attend the attached faith school.

Gingerdodger Tue 09-Apr-13 08:08:58

In my opinion the faith school issue is a red herring. The real shocker is that there is a school which is so bad that parents feel their children are disadvantaged for going. What's that all about? Isn't the real issue about ensuring all schools are of a good quality?

It is my opinion that your son is not being punished by your religious stance but rather by society's failure to provide good quality education for all children.

saycheeeeeese Tue 09-Apr-13 08:11:53

I think it would be hypocritical and wrong for someone who demeans Christianity as fairy tales to get their child christened, just so they can go to a church school.

I think you know this OP hence your struggle with it.
No solutions, I don't think it's wrong that they have entry requirements, I think it's wrong that the state school is so rubbish.

LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 08:12:49

Hear hear, ginger

Sunnymeg Tue 09-Apr-13 08:13:19

The thing is CofE schools don't really do themselves any favours. My husband and I attendec the local Baptist church, but when it came to trying to get our DS into the local CofE church school we fell fowl because we were Christians but attended a different denomination. They also didn't like the fact that DS hadn't been christened, but Baptist churches don't christen, children are dedicated and the parents and godparents promise to bring them up in the christian faith so they can make their own choice as an adult. They ended up asking us if we would be prepared to attend the CofE church they were affiliated to on specific days including Easter and Christmas services, we said no because we had our own commitments at our own church. At this point we decided to look for another school!

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Tue 09-Apr-13 08:14:49

How old is your son? A LOT can change in a school in only a year or two and if he does have to attend a less than great school, my only advice is to get involved in the school all that you can.

Join the PTA run for the board and fund raise like hell. If you have any skills then offer them to the children. I'm thinking of offering recitation classes to my DDs classmates so they can enter the county recitation competition. That's usually only open to kids who attend private schools or go to Stagecoach....get on board with the school and help them.

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 08:16:37

You do all realize that theses Church schools only get a tiny bit of their funding from the Church, don't you? They are largely paid for by the tax payer, like any other school?

Mind you, I do find it hard to believe that there is any school a child could attend for two years and not "know their abcs".

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 08:16:45

Yes agree with the last few posters.

You have no choice.

To counteract the baloney my dc get told at school we counteract with "that is what Christians believe".

To be honest considering we're not religious at all I don't mind them being taught about other religions to a point as it will be their choice as adults,it could be described as part of education and they sure as hell won't learn about it from us.However it's the CofE bias I have a problem with but you can counteract that by talking about other religions at home(along with evolution).

At the end of the day it's your child.Churches play the system and because of that many parents need to too.If the school you want is the best one for your child stuff etiquette-you're paying for it via your taxes.

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 08:21:39

My kids aren't christened and we're not married(along with an awful lot of other kids at our school).

These are both choices we made, not our children long before they were born.

CofE schools seem to differ as I doubt my dc wouldn't be allowed over the threshold of many,that is also ridiculous.

LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 08:22:24

My son is only 6 months old. The reason I'm in a panic about it now is something a friend said. She actually works in the local catholic school. She said that our chances of getting him in falls significantly if he is not christened by 6 months old.

Please note I live in central London. The schools are all massively over subscribed. This is why they have to select children in this way.

I feel under pressure to make a decision NOW.

My DH thinks I'm being dramatic. Maybe I am. But this is so important to me and the whole thing seems so unfair.

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 08:23:56

Can't you get christened at any age?<clueless,I'm sure somebody will come along and enlighten us>.smile

meditrina Tue 09-Apr-13 08:26:25

Most faith school pre-date the creation of state schooling and in addition to those we have by history, the Blair government created loads more.

I think the bottom line is that they are popular, parents like the ethos and vote with their feet to have their children attend.

The new Free School policy means that those who want to instigate as secular a school as permitted by law are now able to do so within the state system (before it would have had to be private).

If there is a gap in provision and insufficient school places locally, then local campaigning is needed to secure the type of new school that is wanted.

If a school is failing, then that needs to be tackled too. Blaming the "failure" of one school on perceived attributes of others locally isn't going to fix that school.

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 08:26:28

Your friend is probably right. If a Catholic school is oversubscribed, they can have infant baptism as one of their admissions criteria. Because Roman Catholics are supposed to baptise their babies as early as possible, and this is supposed to stop the sudden religious conversion of 4 year olds when their parents start to panic. But this is more likely to be an issue at secondary level- when the difference between schools becomes much more marked. Don't believe local gossip about schools- people exaggerate, lie and justify their own decisions to an extraordinary degree.

LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 08:30:19

Can I just add that the ofsted report at the non religious school, for the last 5 years has been poor.

I'm still all new to this. I've never had to think about it before. I feel very naive about everything.

LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 08:31:43

Just want to thank everyone for their thoughts too. Keep them coming. Good or bad, it helps just to build up ideas in my head. I don't feel so alone about it so thank you.

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 08:32:08

What do you mean by poor? When was the OFSTED? Do you know when they will be inspected again

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 08:32:48

Having said that a lot could happen in 5 years,school could go down the pan and the other could improve.

Med I don't think parents do like the ethos of church schools,they just want a good school for their dc and if it was the Monster Raving Loony Party running the local Outstanding school in comparison to one in Special Measures they'd be clambering to get in.

It's all vey well suggesting campaigning but that can take years and in the meantime your precious child needs educating.

CelticPromise Tue 09-Apr-13 08:32:48

I'm practising RC and my DS will get into an excellent RC school around the corner, but fwiw I agree with you OP. I would prefer it if all children went to their local school with maybe a bit of catchment juggling to ensure a social mix. I'm taking advantage of a Catholic education being available but I don't think it should be, parents are free to educate their children in their faith.

Our RC school can fill its intake with practising RC families. There are many RC schools that require baptism under six months. Also in my experience you can't just request baptism, you would have to demonstrate your own practice to get a DC baptised.

It sucks.

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 08:33:29

Can you move,you have time?

LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 08:36:23

Unfortunately moving isn't an option...

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 08:38:05

Could you tell us more about the non religious school? There are people on here who are good at interpreting OfSTEDs!

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 08:41:01

Yes personally I'd go for good rather than Outstanding.

Give us info re the poor one-Ofsted grade and issues mentioned.

Re other school when was it last inspected,is it consistently Outstanding/ Good,has it had a new head recently?


Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 08:42:41

Look at progress and teaching in both.Oh and bullying.

If one has a poor intake but good results don't discount it as that is preferable imvho than cherry picked kids achieving average results.

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 08:43:29

Look at the Ofsted Data Dashboard too.

Myliferocks Tue 09-Apr-13 08:46:49

We're the other side of the coin.
Our DC attend a non selective CofE school.
They haven't been christianed and DP and myself aren't religious.
Faith has no part in the admissions criteria for the school so it has children from all faiths there.
We had hoped because it was non selective I wouldn't be to bad but the church visits are slowly increasing and so are the Vicar's visits.
Our DC don't attend church on those days that school go and we've pulled them out of the highly religious assemblies as well.
All Junior and Primary schools within a 12 mile radius of us are either CofE
or Catholic and that is a lot of schools so moving schools isn't a choice.
When mine get to year 5 they transfer to a middle school 12 miles away but that costs us for the privilege of our DC going to a non faith school due to us having to pay for a bus to get them there.

LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 08:47:06

Last report for non religious school was 2012. All sections (6 of them) got "requires improvement".

This is in comparison to both faith schools. The report for both these schools are outstanding.

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 08:49:25

Hmm I see your dilemmagrin

Why can't you move?

<sorry to be nosy>

SoupDragon Tue 09-Apr-13 08:50:18

She said that our chances of getting him in falls significantly if he is not christened by 6 months old.

She is absolutely right. At least in my area, and it is particularly true at secondary level.

We did move when DS1 was 3 to avoid the choice of a poor secular school and an outstanding CofE one where we would have had to lie to get into. Many, like you, do not have that option.

I've always found it odd that it is acceptable to discriminate on the basis of religion in schools - are there any other similar places where it is legal? Apart from, say, becoming a catholic priest smile

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 08:50:44

Have to say in a couple of years the other school could be Outstanding too but the non christening would be a gamble.

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 08:50:57

What were the actual numbers? 3s all the way through and an overall 3?

LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 08:52:29

Squarepebbles...simple answer. Money.

We have had to move back into my family home and we live with my mother. Long story...

saycheeeeeese Tue 09-Apr-13 08:52:49

I know school is important but surely if you invest time in your DS as well it won't matter so much. The school I went to wasn't particularly wonderful but my parents invested time in us, sitting with me to do my homework, taking me to educational places, reading books with me etc and I reckon that's the the reason I did well.
Do a bit of research on the curriculum etc.

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 08:53:24

Could you change jobs,cheaper area?

In theory you have 4 years

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 08:54:27

Saycheeee has a point as long as behaviour/bullying aren't issues.

LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 08:54:40

Seeker...yes. 3's all the way through and overall.

I go into a cold sweat when I think of my boy having to attend this school.

badguider Tue 09-Apr-13 08:55:44

This is not about religion it's about how "choice" allows one school in three to be snubbed by a section of society therefore causing a cycle of "needing improvement" however I would look more closely at what that school is like and also be aware a lot can change in four years.
I went to a school (before ofsted and in Scotland) which would have looked terrible on paper in terms of results and which some people in the city thought was "rough" but it was a rurally a fantastic school, if took on a lot of kids from deprived areas and some who has been expelled from elsewhere (hence the dodgy results) but it was a caring and nurturing school and I came out with unconditional offers to the top five universities in Scotland. (It was a catholic school btw. So not all religious schools are middle-class bubbles).

LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 08:58:37

I fully intend to educate my boy at home. I have a degree in English and have interests in the arts. I will focus on this. My DH has a degree in biology and is basically a human calculator so he will focus on these subjects.

Maybe I'm making a deal out of nothing. But you only get one chance at this. If I decide not to get him christened, I will have messed up his chances. There is no going back. Am I being dramatic??

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 09:02:00

Have you actually ever been into the school? It doesn't sound brilliant, but there are lots of reason why a school can get an underwhelming OFSTED and still be a good place to be. Of course it could just be a bad school, but I wouldn't panic yet. Particularly if it gets a wake up call from OFsTED- a lot can happen in 4 years.

saycheeeeeese Tue 09-Apr-13 09:02:39

No you aren't messing things up, you are doing the moral and right thing by not doing something that you don't believe in.

Your DS will be fine.

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 09:04:01

Oh, and it will need more than just a christening. You will have to show that you are participating in the life of the church- personally, I would take my chances with a less good school than raise a child in an atmosphere of hypocrisy.

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 09:04:58

But actually go and look at the school. Don't rely on OfSTED alone.

OneLittleToddleTerror Tue 09-Apr-13 09:08:59

I understand where you came from. DH and I are both non-religious. Neither of our parents are from religious families. We wouldn't even know how to go start going to church. Our only choice is to move into the catchment of a good non-religious school.

But if I'm in your shoes, I'll get my child baptisted and start going to church, even if I don't believe. It's just what we have to do to get a good education in this country. Everyone knows many parents attend church solely for getting into faith schools. It's wrong, but what could we do? I guess I'm just being pragmatic.

Spero Tue 09-Apr-13 09:09:03

Why do you get the cold sweats because a school is rated 3?

You have four years to see if school can improve. My child went to a school in Brixton for a year that all other middle class children ran from screaming - she was fine and happy. She then went to a school rated mostly 3 but last report all 2s with potential to be outstanding.

So many things can change. Of stead is only part of big picture. Visit the school. Look around. Talk to the head. Become a governor. Help make a change. Schools just aren't left to rot you know. People really do care about making them as good as they can be.

So yes, I do think you are being over dramatic.

Spero Tue 09-Apr-13 09:10:10

Sorry, meant middle class parents - they didn't like the racial or class profile of the school so they fought to get their children in anywhere else. I am sure their children would have been perfectly fine.

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 09:10:47

What spero says.

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 09:12:48

Nooooo however you sound like us.

I have an English degree and dp 2 in Science and Engineering,I was a teacher.

Our school was Oustanding but plummeted to Satisfactory.It has no bullying issues and I except the situation isn't as dire however there is a lot you can do at home.Having said that I'm not back at work yet so things may differ when I do.

I keep up to date with everything.The primary section is good for that.Schools have to give any data on your child so keep up with progress,levels,national expected levels etc.Develop a thick skin and don't give up re getting info.There is masses of stuff out there online etc.Anything you're worried about you can brush up at home,not always easy though after a tiring day at school.

I do get resentful at having to keep on top of things however maybe as parents we ought to be more involved with our dc's education anyway.Parents have a massive role to play imvho.

I went to hoards of schools(forces) some utter shite but still got a degree.Dp went to the worst school in his area,did buggar all(parents didn't give a shit),but thanks to his at the time girl friend's mother taking him under her wing for a year got into a red brick uni on a v challenging degree.Years later he got into another highly thought of uni to do his Masters.

LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 09:13:08

The children's centre, where I go with my boy to get him weighed etc is in the school. So I have been inside the school and have seen the children at playtime. But I have no idea what I'm supposed to be looking for.

The report focusses on the teachers, who "are slow to provide pupils with tasks that stretch them" also they "take too long to notice when pupils need tasks to be developed" and the achievement of pupils "not enough opportunities for them to write well in different subjects" and " the majority of pupils are from a number of different ethnic minorities and the proportion of pupils learning English as an additional language is high"

parachutesarefab Tue 09-Apr-13 09:13:37

Which religion would you choose to get him christened into?

Definitely look at the exact admission criteria (but bear in mind that they can change), and go to see the schools. Are they infant or junior?

I don't envy you your decision. I like to think that, in your position, I'd go for the non-faith school, but I honestly don't know. (Speaking as someone who has to miss out bits of the responses if I'm in church for a wedding etc, so that I'm not lying.)

OddBoots Tue 09-Apr-13 09:14:02

I'm an active church-going CofE Christian, my children went to the local CofE Juniors but only because it is our catchment school (and is under subscribed with only around 2-3 children a year, of the 90 intake, being admitted on faith grounds).

I don't agree with faith schools, schools are a place for education about the world and one of the greatest things about school is the growing up with people you'd not normally meet, people outside you parents' social circle. There is loads and loads of time outside of school for a child to have a faith taught.

Locally a faith group is kicking up a huge fuss about their free school transport being removed in LA budget cuts, if they win it will be a sad day, money should not be being taken from health and social care departments to fund educational segregation.

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 09:17:03

I wouldn't tolerate bullying or dreadful behaviour though.So check that out,visit and ask if it is an issue.

As others have said a lot can happen in 4 years,a lot.

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 09:18:51

Those issues aren't good and I'd keep on top of things however behaviour,bullying and teaching would worry me more. What does it say about those.

Spero Tue 09-Apr-13 09:19:03

So the report has identified the areas they need to work on. They have got four years to get into shape.

What do you think of the atmosphere when you go to the school? Is it happy, bustling, are the children polite and well behaved, does the head seem happy or harassed, what are the buildings like, well maintained or falling apart?

Having a high proportion of children from ethnic minorities or with English as a second language does not make a school 'bad' - yes, school has to work harder at making lessons inclusive for all but this is no bad thing.

My school has a higher than average number of free school meals, English as a second language etc and works very hard at making all children feel safe and welcomed.

I look around at the increasing social and racial divisions in this country's schooling and feel sense of sadness and despair. Again, the middle class parents run from my daughter's school and I think they are idiots - but they are scared of all the 'poor' families.

LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 09:20:48 would have to be c of e. Catholic church is too dogmatic and strict for my liking. And as a child who attended a catholic school, I do not want this for my child. C of E just seems more mellow. We would only be required to attend church once or twice a month, in comparison to every Sunday if we go with Catholicism.

Christ I can't believe I'm even considering this. I'm so torn.

parachutesarefab Tue 09-Apr-13 09:22:33

Sorry, meant Infant or Primary?

A lot (IMO) of looking round schools is gut reaction - a bit like choosing a house. Do the children seem happy? Enthusiastic? Is there a friendly, welcoming feel? Are the corridors and classrooms bright and cheerful? Is there a positive feel to the place? Does the staff member showing you round speak to the children you come across?

Spero Tue 09-Apr-13 09:23:23

I can't believe you are considering buying into hypocrisy and lies when there appears to be a reasonable school your child could go to without jumping through these hoops. A rating of 3 is not special measures.

What lessons would you then be teaching him?

Pootles2010 Tue 09-Apr-13 09:24:55

I agree with you OP, think its absolutely scandalous that taxpayers money goes to something that only people of a certain religion attend. It really, really stinks, and drives me completely bonkers.

OneLittleToddleTerror Tue 09-Apr-13 09:25:56

The lesson is sometimes you have to do things you don't like in order to get somewhere? It's not like they are actually actively doing something wrong.

cory Tue 09-Apr-13 09:26:03

What seeker said:

"personally, I would take my chances with a less good school than raise a child in an atmosphere of hypocrisy."


"Don't rely on OfSTED alone"

What I found helpful in choosing schools was a combination of looking at the children- like Spero said: is there a happy, bustling atmosphere, are the children polite and pleasant towards visitors and teachers- and asking teachers about a few specific situtations (what would you do in the case of X). I would not trust a school that said they never encountered bullying- that just means they are burying their head in the sand. I would expect them to tell me what they do when bullying occurs. Also, what to do to support able pupils and generally about their programme for pastoral care.

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 09:26:19

Yes 3 until recently was satisfactory. Some of the teaching etc may have been good,at ours a lot was.

What did they say re bullying,behaviour and management(the problem at ours)?

parachutesarefab Tue 09-Apr-13 09:27:11

Around here the 6 month criterion only applies to Catholic schools, not CofE (but don't know where you are, and things can change).

lunar1 Tue 09-Apr-13 09:28:06

Im so sorry you are in this situation op, we faced the same problem and did not get into any of the local top schools, or any of the average schools. We kept an open mind and went to look at the failing school we were offered. I cant understand how the school is open, they regularly have police there to deal with parents. there were beer cans at the gates form parents.

I walked to the school at school run time past the local top rated faith school. I was disgusted by the language from the parents and children i heard at the gates and there were mums in pyjamas.

It honestly looked like something from the Jeremy kyle show. The only options I saw were either home education or private education. We are lucky that we could (just about) afford private. I think its absolutely disgusting that children of religious families get better education. I never thought i would opt for private but the alternative just seemed to grim to consider.

LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 09:28:52

It says bullying isn't an issue.

Behaviour... "Is not outstanding because they do not take full responsibility for making good progress..."

So at least this sounds ok ish...

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 09:33:49

Tbh that doesn't sound too bad and common to a lot of schools.In 4 years. I suspect it will be at least good. Staying at 3 isn't an option anymore as. I understand it.

You could ask how they're doing,they'll be getting monitoring visits.

Also if you think about it the teachers must be working a lot harder with a variety of languages at the school nobody wants than those at the cherry picked school down the road with I suspect not as many challenges.

Have a look on their website,newsletters,try and chat to some mums there if you're there a lot anyway.

LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 09:39:50

So is 3 in an ofsted report ok then?

Another thing that puts me off is that I was walking past at closing time yesterday and there was a mum waiting outside the gates. She was speaking on her mobile. Well I say speaking...she was practically shouting. Swearing really loudly and threatening to "smack" someone "upside their head" and rascklat this and that. Usually I would have found this hilarious but it just worried me. She mar proper scary. I later saw her and her son walking down the road. She swore at him too and gave him a clip round the ear hole!! I know this is only one mum. And don't get me wrong, I'm not a snob at all but it got me thinking. That's why I lay in bed last night overthinking everything.

LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 09:40:44

So is 3 in an ofsted report ok then?

Another thing that puts me off is that I was walking past at closing time yesterday and there was a mum waiting outside the gates. She was speaking on her mobile. Well I say speaking...she was practically shouting. Swearing really loudly and threatening to "smack" someone "upside their head" and rascklat this and that. Usually I would have found this hilarious but it just worried me. She mar proper scary. I later saw her and her son walking down the road. She swore at him too and gave him a clip round the ear hole!! I know this is only one mum. And don't get me wrong, I'm not a snob at all but it got me thinking. That's why I lay in bed last night overthinking everything.

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 09:44:05

Oh lord, OP- there will be parents like that at any school!

What does the report say about the teaching, management and pastoral care?

saycheeeeeese Tue 09-Apr-13 09:44:47

There are mums like that everywhere, I live in a tiny village with an excellent school and I see mums like that everyday.

Maybe she was having a stressful day?

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 09:45:10

3 requires improvement but was Satisfactory.Obviously Good or Outstanding would be preferable however ours was Outstanding and is now 3- same kids and parents.Several teachers have left admittedly.We had a new head,a lot rides on a decent head.hmm

You get the odd parent like you describe but I'm sure they're not the maj,hover a bit

Squarepebbles Tue 09-Apr-13 09:50:16

Oh and my friend removed her dd from the local Outstanding school because of bullying inside and outside the school by cliquy kids and bitchy parents driving 4x4s so undesirable parents can go both ways

Spero Tue 09-Apr-13 09:50:36

Yes 3 is ok. It is not a failing school. It is not in special measures. It has four years to improve!

Yes there are scarey parents. But they aren't actually in the classroom teaching your child. They may be mouthing off near the playground but I doubt very much that this is going to impact on your child. Far more important is the atmosphere in your home and how he models your behaviour.

Your son needs to grow up to live in the world, to know there are all sorts of people in it. Not in some bubble, insulated from all the scarey poor people and a bubble you got him into by lying about something so fundamental as your religious convictions.

Education and values aren't exclusively part of the school environment. He will also learn from you and your choices.

prh47bridge Tue 09-Apr-13 10:22:18

Check the admission criteria for the CofE school carefully. It is unlikely they give priority to christened children but they will give priority to those who attend church regularly.

Both the CofE school and the RC school may reserve a proportion of places for people who don't qualify under faith criteria. Take a look at the admission criteria for both schools to check this.

Check the non-faith school for yourself. It may not be as bad as others say. If it has had poor Ofsted reports for 5 years as you say I am surprised it isn't in special measures. If it does go into special measures there will be significant changes, possibly including conversion to academy status.

As your child is young a lot can change between now and the time you need to apply for a school place. New schools may open. The admission criteria for the existing schools may change. A school that is excellent now may become a failing school and a failing school may become the best school in the area.

If you are unsure what the admission criteria mean I am happy to take a look for you. Just PM me the names of the schools and the LA involved. I am also happy to see what I can find out about the non-faith school.

tiggytape Tue 09-Apr-13 10:27:23

You still have 4 years. In that time any school can change beyond all recognition. Even if your DS was baptised and you lived next-door to the 'best' faith school in town, in 3 years time it could appoint a new Head and become the worst school that everyone avoids. Very little you can do avoids that risk for any school.

A grade 3 at Ofsted means the school is O.K. It isn't the best but it certainly isn't failing either. Schools in that category will be striving to improve.

And finally - there is nothing magical to explain why faith schools often do better. It comes down to the fact that (the ones with militant admissions criteria) are dominated by parents who will do anything to get their children into what is considered the best school even if it means planning 3 or 4 years in advance. Statistically this type of parent is also more likely to invest the same efforts into other aspects of education such as learning timetables at home, teaching their child to read, turning up to parents' evenings.......
Basically if you have admissions criteria that directly selects a group of very involved and motivated parents, it isn't hard to see that their children might generally be considered an easier cohort to get good results from. It may have nothing at all to do with any differences between the teachers or the resources in each school and a lot to do with parental help at home and valuing education so highly (which anyone will tell you is equally if not more important especially at this age).

whistleahappytune Tue 09-Apr-13 11:58:01

OP, I really sympathise. I go to church regularly (C of E) but don't believe in faith schools because they are divisive. My DD goes to a non-faith local school. I looked at the local faith school but it wasn't that great. I would not have hesitated to send her to a C of E school if I felt it offered the best education.

Spero, 3 is far from "fine". And the idea that "they have four years to turn it around" - what if they don't? An entire primary education would be sub-standard.

OP, there's a lot of talk about hypocrisy on this thread, and I know that you feel it would be unethical to somehow "fake" a faith that you don't believe in. However... please consider. The CofE church only requires regular attendance. It does not require you to somehow prove you're actually believing. It requires you to act as if you have faith only. Personally, and I've thought a lot about this, I'm okay with this. I don't feel that someone is taking a place away from "Christian" children. Who knows what goes on in someone's heart and mind, truly? Over the years, I've had many periods of doubt - does that make me suddenly a hypocrite for turning up most Sundays? No, it makes me human.

So if you would be willing to show up at church, get on your knees occasionally for the sake of your child's education, then don't discount it. BTW you don't have to park your brain at the door of the church. You may even meet some interesting, intelligent people.

I wish you the best of luck whatever you decide.

tethersend Tue 09-Apr-13 12:02:25

We were in a very similar position- we love directly opposite a catholic school which has excellent results and which people are falling over themselves to get into, but we are not religious. I went to look round it, thinking that perhaps I could live with it and get DD baptised.

I can't.

The school was utterly awful. Strict, dour and depressing. Reception class were writing out prayers in silence. It gets great academic results, but I don't care. I want a happy child who likes going to school. And I can't get on board with teaching Christianity as fact; if anyone is going to lie to my children, it's me grin

So, I would advise going to visit the religious schools if you haven't already (sorry if I've missed that).

Then, the borough introduced catchment areas- this put me out of catchment for our nearest school, but in catchment for a couple of lovely schools which we had previously written off. We're waiting nervously to hear next week if DD1 has got in to any of them...

As others have said, a lot can change in three or four years, particularly in the current political climate.

toolittletimetoomuchtodo Tue 09-Apr-13 12:31:26

I won't rant on this subject but I think if you want a religious education for your child then it should be via the private system and the various religious bodies should set up their own private faith orientated schools.

I'm not against teaching RE as part of the curriculum but my taxes should not be used to fund a school whose admission is based (in the main) on whether or not you believe in this or that God and whether you go to worship a prescribed number of times a month. This country should take the French approach and seperate schooling based on faith belief from the state education system.

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 12:43:06

Whistleahapppytune- what do you say to your children about this monumental hypocrisy? Do you pretend to them as we'll? Or do you tell them the truth and expect them to perpetuate the lie?

whistleahappytune Tue 09-Apr-13 12:50:46

Seeker, what? What monumental hypocrisy are you talking about?

tiggytape Tue 09-Apr-13 12:50:57

toolittle - the reason our system has so many Church schools is that they existed long before state ones. The state ones were founded much later to fill in the gaps.
The church wished to educate the poor long before the state did and, as such, many faith schools own their own land and are partially funded by the church. I am assuming it would cost too much to buy them all up and convert them - there are many hundreds nationally - about one third of all schools in fact are faith schools

Non church schools are not totally 'non-religious' anyway. Non church schools must teach R.E but also have daily collective worship. R.E is teaching children about religions. Worship has to be collective worship everyday mainly in line with Christian teachings.

whistleahappytune Tue 09-Apr-13 12:57:59

Seeker if you care to discuss this, you might take a slightly less aggressive tone. I am neither living or perpetuating a lie.

As I've clearly stated, I go to church regularly. My DD accompanies me about half the time, but I don't force her to go. She does not attend a faith school.

I have had periods of doubts over the years, and have struggled with my faith. As have many priests. Doubt is part of faith, and anyone who says otherwise is probably a fundamentalist.

BranchingOut Tue 09-Apr-13 12:58:29

Lots of posters on this thread have talked about places being held back for non-faith pupils, but unfortunately there are schools where the non-faith pupils are so far down the list of admissions criteria that they have a greater chance of attending school on the moon.

A faith school that I know well has the following criteria:

Children in care.

Siblings in order of distance.

Regular attendees and minister's reference from one of three named churches, in order of distance. (regular attendance is found to mean 2 years of attendance, at least once per month)

Children of other christian faiths in order of distance.

Other children in order of distance.

When you hear that 15/30 places are taken up by siblings then it is very clear, in an area of oversubscribed schools, that the 'other' category is not going to get a look in.

What I would suggest:

1) get hold of the admissions policies for each or any of the local schools and look at them carefully.

2) Go on tours ASAP, even though this is not your year of application. In London it is definitely not unusual to see parents touring schools with a baby or younger toddler. Get on to this now, while schools are still runnning tours and the summer term is not totally taken up with sports day/end of year stuff.

3) Look to see if there is any other community school nearby. Remember that once applications are made you could go on the waiting list for any school you like. Obvously the odds are not great, but I have heard it happen for people to be offered places at schools even if they are not very nearby, especially if you are in a part of London where people may decide to take up a private school place.

4) Consider the strategy of home educating until your child is a couple of years into school, then waiting for a place to come up.

5) Move house as a family, mum included?

Spero Tue 09-Apr-13 13:16:29

Of course 3 is fine. As far as I understand it means 'satisfactory'. Obviously it should be aiming to be 'good' but ops school has been assessed and told what it needs to do. It will be regularly monitored and reviewed.

Really don't get this hysteria over ratings. Go to the school and see for yourself. I know plenty of people who am have taken children out of 'good' schools because their children were unhappy.

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 13:19:04

Sorry but your child is SIX MONTHS old confused the world isn't going to stand still for the next four years and no school will be allowed to "fail" for that long!

whistleahappytune Tue 09-Apr-13 13:19:33

Of course 3 is "requires improvement" not satisfactory.

I don't know anyone who gets hysterical over ratings. Ofsted isn't the be all and end all of assessing whether a school is right for your child. However, it is a factor.

Khaleese Tue 09-Apr-13 13:19:44

The government does not need to buy up any church schools, they just need to pass a law that prevents discrimination.

Just like in ever other area of life.

Another law allowing compulsary purchase for any church school that has issue with this. ( nominal amount) If they can steal peoples pensions and change terms and conditions at the drop of a hat, then this law would be easily voted in.

Spero Tue 09-Apr-13 13:24:11

It's only suddenly 'requires improvement' because Gove is a massive arse and doesn't seem to understand it is impossible for every school to be 'better than average'.

I have been on the governors training - all this level 2 a b c nonsense, smoke and mirrors.

Is your child happy at school? Learning to read and write? Making friends?
At primary level I cannot understand angsting about much else.

Spero Tue 09-Apr-13 13:25:56

Well the op broke out in a 'cold sweat' about a 3 rating. Seems a wee bit of an over reaction. Maybe 'hysteria' is too OTT but there seems far too much worry generally about Ofsted ratings.

Schmedz Tue 09-Apr-13 13:30:34

As someone originally from abroad, I am gobsmacked that there are Faith schools which are funded by the state! I find the whole process of 'proving' your child deserves a place in one because you happen to attend church for a bit distasteful.
Any families of true faith will be teaching their children these principles and hopefully living them out day by day, regardless of what school they attend.
However, it is a system which is not going to go away as it is part of many years of an education system in this country.
It is astonishing that there are many on here complaining that they have to 'put up' with attending a faith school and others complaining that they are too hard to get in to!
We are a Christian family but my children do not attend their nearest C of E school because it was massively oversubscribed and could not offer them one. It offers 50% 'faith' places and 50% based on other criteria. We live too far away and don't have sibling preference. I could complain that there are children attending whose families are 'non faith' and therefore their child cost us a place but I don't need my children to attend that school to learn their faith, they do that already at home and through our church. I wish all children had the opportunity to learn about all faiths impartially and then really be 'free' to decide what or what they don't believe without any coercion one way or the other (never going to is obviously not the only place you get your information from)
There are such a high proportion of faith schools with better academic outcomes than community schools...for what reasons, who knows. The fact remains that we all want our children to attend a school which will be best for them academically... In an ideal world there would be no faith schools at all so then the focus could go on what the issues are really all about...some schools are more desirable than others because of their results/outstanding OfSted reports etc...etc... Perhaps it would even be more positive for faith institutions because the negativity surrounding faith schools alone sadly equates to negativity about faith as a whole.

In response to are clearly uncomfortable with being a hypocrite and using church attendance to give your child a perceived educational advantage. However, why not do as another poster suggested and at least go to a church to find out whether you would genuinely be interested in continuing to attend, or at least talk to the vicar about what a christening would involve. If you are not ready to make promises of the sort you would need to, you would not have to go through with any ceremony. But the church might surprise you and who knows how you will feel about it in a few months/years time unless you give it a try. There is nothing hypocritical about that.

AvrilPoisson Tue 09-Apr-13 13:41:46

Well, if you're not happy with the local options, you have 4 years to do something about it, many people don't have a choice.
You can move, or pay, but if he's 6mo already, you'll struggle to get him a place in a fee-paying school in central London.

Schools are not paid for from council tax btw, whomever said that upthread. The government give funding for schools, via LAs for maintained schools, directly if they're academies.

OneLittleToddleTerror Tue 09-Apr-13 13:47:56

One reason faith schools have better results is they have more middle class pushy parents. You just have to look here on MN. I also know a few parents who never go to church or are atheists and are baptising their children. One collegue even joked the catholic priest showed them a video (along with a few other parents who are asking for baptism) that it is a sin to lie about baptism. Another has to move her waterbabies from Sunday mornings so she could start going to church. Maybe I'm judegey, but what real Christian would pick a waterbabies class on Sunday mornings?

Tortington Tue 09-Apr-13 13:52:10

it is what it is - and that is utter shit.

I'd get my child christened and keep my options open

5 years is a long time for life circumstances to change.

then if you don't use it - you don't, but its not going to 'make' him Catholic unless you indoctrinate follow it through

I really wouldn't rely on the OFSTED too much. In particular, the bits you quoted:

"are slow to provide pupils with tasks that stretch them" and "take too long to notice when pupils need tasks to be developed"
Please understand that the OFSTED inspectors will probably have spent around 20 minutes in each teacher's classroom during their visit. It is simply misleading to make sweeping statements like this and it drives me mad when I see it in reports.

"not enough opportunities for them to write well in different subjects"
How do the inspectors know? They may have done 'book trawls'. Did they also look at assessment folders? At work that pupils had taken home to show mum and dad and then promptly lost? Maybe there weren't long writing sections of the lessons the inspectors saw, but that is probably because no-one wants to be the teacher who gets their class sat writing while the inspectors are there; they all want to be doing whizzy show offy things.

" the majority of pupils are from a number of different ethnic minorities and the proportion of pupils learning English as an additional language is high"
You live in London. Is this really a surprise or a problem?

If these areas worry you then I suggest you contact the head (not now, you'll seem mad, but in a few years time smile - I mean this kindly) and ask for a tour. Ask if you can spend a day in school if you want to. Ask if you can look through books. But please, please, don't rely on OFSTED reports.

As for the Christening. If you wanted to 'cover all bases', you could get DC christened quietly without any big parties or celebrations. DH and I actually got christened last year. It was just him, me, the vicar and a random member of the congregation as a witness. It took about five minutes. It was important to us as we've recently converted, but we didn't feel the need to make a big song and dance about it.

We haven't yet had DS christened. Like you, we didn't want to make that decision for him. However, if it makes you feel any better, our vicar suggests that the christening is a kind of 'welcome' into Christianity, not a 'commitment'. The commitment comes with the confirmation, when a person is old enough to decide for themselves. That made us feel better so we're planning to get DS christened later this year.

littlecrystal Tue 09-Apr-13 15:47:52

Op I feel your pain. Mine situation is a bit the same and a bit different. I am half-practicing Catholic due to my personal bumpy relationship with God. I baptized my DS when he was 1.5 years out of the custom in my family. As our local best primary was Catholic, I took a chance and committed myself into regular churchgoing for 6 months, even though I didn’t believe we will get in in that school due to the distance. Surprise surprise, DS got in, although I am not convinced it is the best school for him. Most of DS class will go up to catholic secondary schools, and that is where our problem starts. We can either stay where we are, commit to a weekly church going on every Sunday and try to convince catholic schools of our reasons for late baptism, or apply for our mixed-review local secondaries, or move. I don’t know what we are going to do. This weekly church going starts to wear on me and doesn’t help me my faith either… if anything it makes me sick of the fakeness in the church, parents, priest etc. But – if I would be 100% certain that DS would get in the good catholic school, I would continue praying. Now I am more tempted to drop the whole fake churchgoing thing, only go when I feel like going and move to an area of good secular school.

My advice to you is to baptize your child in a quiet 5 min ceremony and keep your options open. If you don’t and if you cannot move, you may strongly regret it later and you cannot reverse the past.

MothershipG Tue 09-Apr-13 16:05:01

I agree that this is a completely ridiculous and unacceptable situation parents are put in.

I was brought up RC and, like you OP, I am an atheist by choice. I did not get my children baptised, I just couldn't bring myself to stand up in a church and lie through my teeth, I may not believe in god but that just seem so hypocritical and disrespectful. I was lucky my DC got into a good community primary.

But if I had known then what I know now about the secondary schools around here (also London) I would have done it. My DC had so little choice of Secondary because of my lack of religion, like you I dislike the labeling of children by their parent's faith.

So although it goes against all my principles I would advise you to do it! Play the game, jump through the hoops to give your DC the best educational choices you can. This is wrong but if you live in certain places, especially London, it seems to be what you have to do. angry

tiggytape Tue 09-Apr-13 16:17:24

In fairness, faith schools have always existed. The sudden panic about quality of schooling and lack of school choice or lack of school places is more new.
Once upon a time, most parents would have a realistic shot at getting a place at at least 2 nearby schools and could pick between them. Now more children are applying overall (higher birthrate and fewer families can afford private) most parents have no choices at all.

If your closest school happens to be a faith school this can be very bad because you may not be close enough to any non faith schools to get in whereas once you could have got in to a community school slightly further away.
If your local school is not one you'd ideally pick and you want faith schools to widen your options then the injustice is felt more because the chances are you won't have lots of non faith schools to pick from as was once the case.
Catchment areas for community schools have shrunk so much that few people have any real choice anymore and this therefore highlights a fact that has always existed, people with faith have more choice (or in recent years a local option as opposed to no local option)

MothershipG Tue 09-Apr-13 17:29:18

tiggy You're right about the increased pressure on places, especially in densely populated areas and of course every thing is complicated by the fact that community schools generally set admissions with a distance criteria whereas faith schools can select on holiness. wink So you have to be able to afford to live near a community school but can be miles away form a faith school.

tiggytape Tue 09-Apr-13 17:49:45

I know it happens here Mothership. Whereas people used to ignore the faith schools if they weren't of that faith and just pick a few nice community schools to apply to, many people nolonger have a good or indeed any community school that will take them on distance

So when they realise a good faith school is practically on their doorstep, it can be quite annoying not to be eligible even though they don't necessarily want a faith school at all, just a good school.

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 21:12:32

Whistleaappytune- you were suggesting the Op, who has stated she was non religious folly your example. Which seems pretty hypocritical, whichever side you look at it from!.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 09-Apr-13 21:30:11

My dc all went to the nearest school we could get a place.
Some were good, some were bad. 2 were religious and whilst i don't mind the religious aspect we don't attend church.

If you go for a place at a church school you can't complain you don't like religion ffs. Just because you and a trillion others want the best school for your dc you can't expect them to change their ethos.
I know more non religious than i do religious, they send their dc to the community school, it may not be as good, but they don't want a church school.

What is the worst that can happen if you Christen your child?

You may Christen him and never set foot in a Church again. Will this have harmed him in any way?

You can still raise him open minded, tolerant and quizzical.

You either force religion on him, or you force lack of. One is as bad as the other, in my view. Or you can chose to raise your child with an open mind.

Our sons have a Catholic baptism, they go to Catholic school (a lovely school with a good ethos), and we go to Church. They are still encouraged to respect other views, opinions and faiths, and to think for themselves and make up their own minds. We explain what we believe, what other people believe, and that some think these beliefs are just fairy tales along with the tooth fairy and santa claus.

In our little cul de sac sort of street we have an agnostic family, a Muslim family, a Jewish family, families who dont care, and I dont know what faiths and flavours the rest are. My sons best friends are both Muslim.

Going to a Catholic school has not harmed them. The only comment I have had was from the Jewish mum stating the obvious "Oh, I cant send my dd there". grin

tiggytape Tue 09-Apr-13 22:10:44

seeker - whistle said earlier that she does go to church but doesn't use faith schools so I don't know why she is being singled out as a bad example.
Even if the opposite were true though, people are entitled to make whatever decisions they like. If parents go to church without believing then they have fulfilled the admission criteria. It is attendance not belief which is the requirement. You can attend every week and have a discreet snooze if you so wish. Of course the school may not then be in line with how you wish your child to be taught.

whistleahappytune Tue 09-Apr-13 22:13:56

Seeker, read my post. I did not suggest she "follow my example". I am a Christian and attend church regularly. My daughter does not attend a church school. I fail to see the hypocrisy.

I suggested that many CofE churches (my vicar is on record about this) clearly state that they judge attendance at church, rather than judging someone's faith or lack of it. The OP is an atheist but is also struggling to figure out schooling. She says she's never so torn about a decision and is keen to do right by her child without abandoning her atheist principles.

I am not suggesting she "fake" something. I would never suggest that. I suggested that if she was torn, she might consider attending church. She won't be x-rayed to see what she really believes.

And thank you Tiggy.

MothershipG Tue 09-Apr-13 22:31:30

It makes me so angry that parents have to chose between hypocrisy and their children's educational choices. angry

tethersend Tue 09-Apr-13 22:42:04

Some Catholic schools give top priority to children baptised before the age of 6 months, even if they are looked after.

Copthallresident Tue 09-Apr-13 23:00:16

Lilo You have my every sympathy. Where we live the Council have just given the best possible site for a school to the Catholic Church to set up a primary and secondary in spite of the fact that our primaries are bursting at the seams and a huge increase in pupil numbers will start to come through to Year 7 in 2014. It was set up as a VA school precisely so it could be exclusively Catholic in spite of the fact that Gove's Free School policy supposedly limits new schools to 50% faith selection. When the decision was challenged in judicial review the D of E decided it didn't mean that after all and that they always meant there to be a way to establish exclusive faith schools!

Around here many parents become hypocrits to get into faith schools, and as tiggytape highlights the result is quasi private schools where a local Catholic Primary has the lowest % Free School meals in the country at 1% and the neighbouring community primary has 10%. I don't blame the parents at all, it is the system that is at fault.

You could try some active campaigning

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 23:06:59

"I am not suggesting she "fake" something. I would never suggest that. I suggested that if she was torn, she might consider attending church. She won't be x-rayed to see what she really believes. "

Obviously some new definition of "fake" that I haven't come across before,

BranchingOut Wed 10-Apr-13 06:56:59

The irony is that, of the friends and colleagues I have known who profess and actively practise a Christian faith, only two of them attend a RC or CofE church. Almost all the others were attending baptist, evangelical or other free churches. Yet those children would not receive much priority at the faith school whose admission criteria I posted up-thread.

BranchingOut Wed 10-Apr-13 07:01:32

That Richmond website has a really good section explaining exactly what faith schools are under FAQs.

Feel half tempted to join them myself, even though we are nowhere near!

whistleahappytune Wed 10-Apr-13 07:18:57

I'm really trying not to descend into sarcasm, seeker but you are making it difficult. It is possible to enter a building - a church, say - without having a set of beliefs. Many tourists go to St. Paul's Cathedral. They aren't all believers. Many people go to services at Easter or Christmas, because they feel it's traditional and a nice thing to do. They aren't necessarily believers. Many people are simply curious and aren't really sure what they believe. At my own CofE church, there is a range of belief, from one self-proclaimed "6-day atheist" to vaguely spiritual searchers to those who are committed Christians. Astonishingly, we don't all think the same.

My point is that it is not necessary to believe before you enter a church. Any priest will tell you that. All are welcome.

You clearly know nothing about this, seeker, and are instead projecting your own prejudices about religion. You have offered no suggestions to the OP and instead get very personal and insulting to me. Desist.

seeker Wed 10-Apr-13 07:25:09

Of course it's possible to enter a Church without being a believer.

But I don't think "I like looking at stained glass windows" will satisfy the admissions criteria for a faith school!

mrz Wed 10-Apr-13 07:36:50

The child is six months old he isn't being punished in anyway ... who knows what the situation will be by the time he is ready to start school It could be an academy by then or mum could open her own free school round the corner. It's a bit silly to make such emotive statements. Sorry

Irishmammybread Wed 10-Apr-13 07:55:13

While of course anyone is very welcome to attend church, Baptism is a Sacrament where you are making promises to God on your child's behalf,it's not just a box ticking exercise and you should sincerely believe what you're saying,otherwise it does seem to be hypocritical.
We are RC but my DC have attended Cof E schools,at primary level because it was the closest. At high school level there was no RC school nearby but I wanted to choose a school with a Christian ethos,to me it is important that Christianity is part of everyday life.
The school will admit anyone of any faith and gives priority to children living nearby,regardless of any faith.Only if oversubscribed do they start to look at commitment to faith to select pupils they feel would get the most from attending the school with a family who values and will support the school's principles.
I think the problem in a lot of schools is demand for places,no school can guarantee a place for every child who applies and at some point they may need to impose some selection criteria,if not on religious grounds then on distance from school etc, it's not necessarily fair but someone is inevitably going to have an application rejected and be disappointed.

exoticfruits Wed 10-Apr-13 08:06:46

You must live in a town. All the Cof E schools that I know are in villages, the only school and no one has to attend church or be christened - the fact they live in the catchment area is top priority. Of course if they live outside the catchment, and it is oversubscribed, then they would need to 'jump through hoops'.
I wouldn't get a child christened if I didn't believe in it- I don't see how you can make the promises. Taking to church is different- he might like it(he might not).

LiloLils Wed 10-Apr-13 08:11:10

Hello everyone. Just to let you know I've been reading with much interest. I haven't been posting because I've come down with a particularly nasty virus (punishment from god, perhaps?? wink

Didn't mean to start any arguments although I'm aware that of course people feel strongly about this subject. There have been some really interesting thoughts and practical advice so thank you.

I know my son is only a baby and a few of you think I'm over reacting but it was just the whole "if you haven't christened him before 6 months you've ruined his chances" thing that scared me.

I don't pretend to know much about ofsted reports and so some of the comments have been helpful in that they have made me feel more calm about the 3 grade. I still think its unfair that I should have to pick the poorer school over the outstanding one just based on whether I attend church. But not much can be done about that. I just need to decide whether to attend the c of e church once a month in order to get him into the c of e school. I've decided definitely not to go for the catholic school. I can't bring myself to attend church every week and lick the priest's arse.

To be honest I don't think I can do either. The hypocrisy is just to much to bear. I went to the local c of e church the other day. I thought I'd just see what it was like. The doors were locked!! How very welcoming and Christian. I kind of took it to be a sign. In response to Whistle...I thought it might be nice to sit in a calm and tranquil place, the hustle and bustle of central London can be too much sometimes and I just thought it'd be nice for some peace and quiet. But the locked doors soon put an end to that.

I've loads more to say on the subject but I feel like crap so I have to go. I'll keep reading with much interest though...

exoticfruits Wed 10-Apr-13 08:23:42

Sign of the times sadly, they can't leave it unlocked without volunteers to supervise and they can't get volunteers. It is a London problem. You can live in a village and be atheist, Hindu whatever and get a place.

seeker Wed 10-Apr-13 08:27:13

I wouldn't be put off by the locked door. Churches have to be locked or they get vandalised.

But in order to get into a very popular church school you will have to do more than pay lip service once a month.

exoticfruits Wed 10-Apr-13 08:30:45

If the school is very oversubscribed going twice a month won't be enough- you need to get actively involved. I would try other avenues.

Oblomov Wed 10-Apr-13 08:47:57

Op is in central london.
The schools are very oversubscribed and apparently there are going to be more and more children without a school place AT ALL in central london, and SW London and Surrey, next year and the year after and so on. Apparently.
I am waiting to get ds2 into school this sept. And I think the shortfall was estimated at 600,000-750,000 less plcces than children this year.
Aparently it is going to get worse and worse. I think I have seen the prediction figures on one of the threads on primary entry.

Op, you really do need to consider this carefully.

Copthallresident Wed 10-Apr-13 08:52:02

Branchingout you could get involved locally. If you look at the news section you will see that there is growing interest in what happened in Richmond.

Accord are a national coalition of religious groups, humanists, teachers, trade unionists, educationalists and civil rights activists, working together for inclusive education. And they are keen to encourage similar local initiatives

LiloLils Wed 10-Apr-13 09:00:13

The admission policy for the c of e school is as follows:

Priority will be given to looked be er children.

25 places go to regular church members (regular attendance is attendance at a service of public worship (or Sunday school) at any time during the week at least twice a month.) Attendance must have started at least a year before application to the school.

Up to 5 places for all other applicants.

There are 30 places. Last year there were nearly 300 applicants.

I'm really shitting it about the whole thing.

What happens if he doesn't get into any of the local schools???

I know I have another 4 years and things can change, but things may not change either.

RubyGates Wed 10-Apr-13 09:07:17

If your local schools are over-subscribed, why don't you take this opportunity to start a free school with other like-minded parents?

You could band together and provide a good quality rationalist education that was not just "adaquate" and make a real difference to local children's lives. You have several years to do this in before it becomes an issue for you. Do you think there are other parents with the same outlook in your area?

As an aside, why do you think it is that the faith schools are better than the non-faith school? Is there something about the religious aspect of these schools that improves them?

seeker Wed 10-Apr-13 09:12:41

There are 300 applications for 30 places? I think they'll be able to pick people with more commitment to the church than 2 lip service visits a month, to be honest.

LiloLils Wed 10-Apr-13 09:18:23

Hi ruby. Interesting thoughts. I haven't really met anyone with the same outlook as me. They all seem to be happy with pretending they are religious. Which is beyond me. Everyone I've spoken to just accepts it and made me think I am the one in the wrong for questioning it!!

I don't think its the religious aspect that makes the school good. It's the reports from previous years, and just the "common knowledge" that church schools are the better schools. I don't know why really. I have no problem with religious fact I think its an essential part of learning. But I don't think children should be told what to think, they should be taught HOW to think. Church schools, specifically catholic schools, in my opinion, are guilty of indoctrinating children. When people say that catholic schools were the first schools, all I can think of is that the only reason the schools were set up was to indoctrinate children at an early age to ensure the church did not die.

I'm waffling now. Sorry if I'm not making sense.

littlecrystal Wed 10-Apr-13 09:21:02

OP are you sure you cannot move? I am in London too but even so 300 applicants for 30 places sounds very tigh to me. In South London we have around 300 for 60-90 places...

LiloLils Wed 10-Apr-13 09:23:17

moving really is not an option...

seeker Wed 10-Apr-13 09:24:28

Faith schools have better results because they are selective. schools which are selective for any reason at all produce better results. It's not, as they say, rocket science.

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 09:27:23

seeker Of course it's possible to enter a Church without being a believer. But I don't think "I like looking at stained glass windows" will satisfy the admissions criteria for a faith school!

Indeed it would. If you attend during Sunday service and sit admiring the windows, you have fulfilled the admission criteria at any church school that just requires regular attendance.
There is no special truth serum handed out at the end to see who is there to worship God and who is there for a bit of a sit down and a school place

There are 300 applications for 30 places? I think they'll be able to pick people with more commitment to the church than 2 lip service visits a month, to be honest.

Again no. They will pick people who most meet the admission criteria. So in Lilo's case, all people who have attended for a year (either to stare at the windows or worship God) will be put on a list and the tie breaker applied equally to all of them. Normally the tie breaker if you have 300 regular worshippers would be a distance one. Those living nearest not praying hardest win the tie breaker.

I do understand the angst. I have had trouble myself getting DS a school place but with 300 applicants for any school, it stands to reason more people are going to be disappointed than not. The shortage of school places generally (not just good ones) is such that schools have rigid criteria and follow it. It is the only 'fair' way

Maybe it isn't fair that someone who doesn't want to go to church loses their chance at certain schools. But equally, it might not be fair that many of us don't live close enough to any of our nearest 6 schools to get a place whereas other people can buy houses in streets that give them the choice of 2 schools.

RubyGates Wed 10-Apr-13 09:29:03

Perhaps you could get the local paper involved and see if you can find like-minded parents that way, and/or start a FB group, anything really to see if you can locate some more parents who feel the way you do.

At the moment at least you have time on your side.

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 09:33:02

Incidentally 300 applicants per school is not as bad as it sounds. Each child applies to several different schools and each one of those applications counts
So in London 1 child = 6 applications in total.

Lilo - your church school only requires attendance but there are only 30 places in total. As such, you'd need to look at the tie breaker to see how they decide which regular attenders to admit.
Seeker is not correct in saying it will be the most 'faithful' ones who get picked. It doesn't work like that. There will be a written criteria. It will possibly be siblings or distance. If it is siblings, I wouldn't think they'd be many places going to non sibling church attenders. The schools with only 30 places are very often dominated just by sibling places.

seeker Wed 10-Apr-13 09:35:14

"Indeed it would. If you attend during Sunday service and sit admiring the windows, you have fulfilled the admission criteria at any church school that just requires regular attendance.
There is no special truth serum handed out at the end to see who is there to worship God and who is there for a bit of a sit down and a school place"

Obviously. But here enters the hypocrisy that some people seem so upset that I raised!

OneLittleToddleTerror Wed 10-Apr-13 09:35:39

Liolils knowing that you are in london now, I'd really really try very hard to be hyprocritcal. There are many children who couldn't get into any local schools at all, even a very bad one. I think the LEA has to come up with a place for your child, and some people are travelling very long distances to their primary schools. I've heard also many have to home ed their children until a place comes up.

You said you couldn't bring yourself to go to a catholic church. I'd start going to the CoE one and be active. Sunday school for your child and things like that. You don't want to regret it when 5 years down the road, you couldn't get into any school, and think you could have done something else. If the situation improves in 5 years, you could just choose the community school instead.

OneLittleToddleTerror Wed 10-Apr-13 09:42:59

lilolils you said "I haven't really met anyone with the same outlook as me. They all seem to be happy with pretending they are religious. Which is beyond me. Everyone I've spoken to just accepts it and made me think I am the one in the wrong for questioning it!!"

I question it, I think it is wrong. I think it's totally unfair all taxpayers money paid to fund these schools and they are allowed selective admission. What if we say we fund a NHS hospital but the French (or Chinese or Jews) have priority? There'd be an outcry.

But on the other hand, I think your friends might be more I-don't-care about religion. I'm not an avowed atheist. I simply don't think god exists. I feel as strongly about him as I feel about the myth of santa claus. So I don't feel conflicted about having to pretend to go to church and admire the stained glass. It's just like taking your child to kumon maths and hopefully getting a better education. Or going to a waterbabies class every weekend. How about just looking at it this way?

Tau Wed 10-Apr-13 09:49:48

Lilo, of course I don't know how bad that non-religious school is, but I would not advice you to send your child to a religious school if you and your husband are staunch atheists.
In those schools, god/bible and all that are presented as true and of incredible importance. That's why the schools are religious - you know that and you cannot blame them for that.
But it sounds to me as if in your home, your child would be getting the opposite message - even disapproval of religion.

So your kid would come home proudly with work, religious cards, and with stories about things that you consider to be wrong.
And then what?
Are you going to lie/pretend to your child like you'd do to the school and act as if you are just as pleased as he is with his religious achievements? Or are you going to tell him that his teacher is talking rubbish?

The lying to the school thing only works well if you honestly don't care what your child is being taught for religion. If it matters to you and is even a bit emotional, which seems to be the case, I think it is not good for your child to go to that religious school.

As for 'bad schools' - go check that school out and see what impression you get. My son's secondary school was supposed to be a bad school - low OFSTED grading and a bad reputation in the area- but we liked the atmosphere, and he went anyway. He had a great time, no bullying, and his GCSE grades are almost all A and A*.

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 09:53:47

seeker - you are entitled to think that and many would agree.
School admissions for many schools including Lilo's however require attendance
Not faith
Not declarations of faith
Not praying
Not belief
Just attendance - sitting in a particular church at a particular time each week.

If parents meet that criteria (and win the tie break on siblings or distance in very oversubscribed schools) they will get a place. They don't get excluded for not being religious and don't have to profess to be religious at all.
Of course, whether a faith based school would suit somebody who does not have faith depends on the family and the school but in terms of getting a place, parents aren't required to do anything more than just turn up.

Tau Wed 10-Apr-13 09:55:44

Moving house is really not an option? Like... moving out of London? Houses are much cheaper virtually everywhere else!
Or, like OneLittleToddleTerror mentioned, you could home-ed your child for the time being. Or for always. wink

"Church schools, specifically catholic schools, in my opinion, are guilty of indoctrinating children. " Not sure what you base this opinion on if you have no experience.

mummytime Wed 10-Apr-13 10:00:32

We have an Outstanding secondary school near me with fabulous exam results. It is not religious.
If you live more than about 400 metres away at most you will "most probably" not get in; unless you are a military family. It is funded by tax payer money, and most other schools (including the very good and popular ones) have furthest distances of at least 2 or more miles.

Op how old is your child? If possible I would plan to move to somewhere where there is a real choice of schools. I would also visit all these schools, because I have known schools everyone fight to get into, which were not as good as their reputation. I have known other schools which have been rated 3 by OFSTED but are now fabulous places to go to.

OneLittleToddleTerror Wed 10-Apr-13 10:01:19

tau I tell DD her nativity picture is very nice looking. Just as I took her to see Santa groto. I'll tell her the tooth fairy exists. There's no conflict if you don't believe in either.

FWIW, I went to a catholic school, then later a Presbyterian school. My parents are non-believers. They never tell me Jesus exists at home. I don't remember I ever believed they existed. I probably stopped believing when I stopped beliving in fairies and santa.

OneLittleToddleTerror Wed 10-Apr-13 10:05:38

BTW, I'm not in London and I'm in the catchment of one ofsted outstanding CoE school. It has the standard village admission criteria of catchment children first. The next closest, but out of catchment, non religious school (with a good ofsted) took in children from just over 2 miles according to the LEA website.

So I'm just talking hypothetically what I would do. As we are lucky outside of London to actually be able to go to the local school.

kerala Wed 10-Apr-13 10:07:12

It is shocking OP shocking. When I looked into it I could not believe it. Especially as the faith schools are largely tax payer funded. Its a historical anomalie that is too complicated for any government to bother to unpick. Happened to see a programme Richard Dawkins did and this came up. Must say I agree with him about "Christian" or "atheist" children how can children be said to have such complex beliefs from birth? You wouldn't talk about Socialist children or Conservative children it doesn't make any sense and is very discriminatory against tax payers.

We moved out of London (were going to anyway) and chose our house carefully across the road from a decent community school. Friends in the next road along were just out of catchment for our school so had to attend the Catholic school. They weren't happy about it but the school is fine. However they are having a nightmare now as the admission criteria puts any Catholic child in the world ahead of siblings so its likely their second child wont get in and my friend will be faced with getting two under 6s to different schools every morning. This is a woman who does so much in the community helping other peoples kids and this is how she gets treated grrr! <shouldnt have read this thread before I had my morning coffee!>

kerala Wed 10-Apr-13 10:07:51

Oh and I would have no compunction about playing a system that is inherently mad. And I am the ultimate rule following goody two shoes.

LiloLils Wed 10-Apr-13 10:08:31

Quintessential...just a quick answer as I have no time. I went to a catholic primary and my secondary school was catholic and run by nuns. Also went to catholic college. So yes, I have experience. And quite unpleasant experiences at that.

seeker Wed 10-Apr-13 10:15:04

What do you tell your child about your religious beliefs if you only go to church for "a sit down and a school place"?

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 10:15:48

mummytime - very similar to us. We are in London too.
We have numerous fantastic schools close to our home that we don't stand a hope of getting into.

One of the local schools is Catholic with the kind of admission criteria that covers an A4 sheet of paper. For example baptised before 6 months plus Holy Communion plus weekly attendance for several years plus attending a Catholic feeder school is needed to get top priority.

Most of the time faith doesn't come into it though. Most of them are just normal schools. It is simply the fact you have to live virtually on the doorstep or have a sibling there otherwise you can't get in since so many more children are applying now.

Oblomov Wed 10-Apr-13 10:17:50

Why are you SO adamant that you won't move.
There are no easy answers to your Q. Move or teach them at home. or what? what do you suppose the other alternatvies are? There aren't any. So send your children to the local school.
What else do you want us to say?

Lilo - Understand your reluctance. Our experience is different.

But I do think that CofE schools caters for a less strict and rigorous religious aspect, and many people are "lightweights".

OneLittleToddleTerror Wed 10-Apr-13 10:20:26

seeker what do you tell your preschool child about santa claus? Or the easter bunny? We are talking about primary here.

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 10:28:04

What do you tell your child about your religious beliefs if you only go to church for "a sit down and a school place"?

I am guessing if you want your child at a faith school requiring church attendance (i.e. isn't one of the more 'dilute' faith schools that has places open to anyone) that you'd have reconciled the fact your child will be experience daily worship and religious teachings much more than they would at other schools.
As such I guess you are able to feel neutral or at ease about going to a church each week and don't viw it as a big deal.

Again I'm guessing, if your views weren't neutral and you were very much against religious teaching so much so that you couldn't justify church attendance to your child, then you'd not want them in a faith school everyday anyway.
I agree it would be very odd for a child with actively atheist parents to sit in church each week. Most people who do it 'just for a school place' are people who have faith but wouldn't bother to attend church normally or people who have no strong feelings either way and are happy to go to church each week if that's what's required.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 10-Apr-13 10:31:38

Lilo, has the change in your circumstances which lead to you returning to your mum's house effected your confidence? I only ask because at the minute you sound quite fatalistic and sure of two things:
1. You will not be moving in the next 4 years and
2. The non-faith school will not get better.

Everything changes, but my impression is that you no longer feel in control of your life and your worries about schooling in 4years time are a manifestation of this.sad

Tau Wed 10-Apr-13 10:34:29

OneLittleToddleTerror Wed 10-Apr-13 10:01:19

tau I tell DD her nativity picture is very nice looking. Just as I took her to see Santa groto. I'll tell her the tooth fairy exists. There's no conflict if you don't believe in either.

I know, Onelittletoddlerterror. You aren't bothered about these things - like many other people - and then it obviously doesn't matter.
But I got the distinct impression that Lilo cares quite a lot, and that religion is a sensitive topic to her, and then it DOES matter!

LiloLils Wed 10-Apr-13 10:50:07

Oblomov: as I stated in the OP..." There isn't any point to my post but the subject is keeping me awake so thought it might help to write it down on a public forum and see if I'm not the only one who is saddened by this." I wasn't asking anyone for a definitive answer. If you don't have anything else to say, you can leave the thread. Thanks for your input. insightful. Recently my partner was made redundant and has had to go bankrupt. I do not have a job as I stay at home with baby. My partner is working again but money is very tight. We can barely pay my mum rent. Moving is definitely not an option. Besides, we live in a lovely area, where I was brought up. It's a beautiful family home. The only downside is this bloody school thing!!!!

Oblomov Wed 10-Apr-13 11:09:57

you can leave the thread. Thanks for your input shock

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 11:34:07

Lilo - I appreciate you are really stressed. It sounds like a very worrying time and having the schools thing looming just adds to this. I do think you were rude to Oblomov though.

Most of us here are sympathetic on school issues (hence we are often found hanging around in this section). I myself was one of the London parents who got no school offer at all for my son - we do not live close enough to a single school to get in - not even a bad one! We couldn't even get a place at the worst one in the borough!
It was all eventually resolved through waiting lists and kind advice here thankfully but it was a truly worrying experience and very upsetting.

And what Oblomov said, was in blunt terms true. If you cannot move house, if the admissions criteria don't change and if you do not wish to go to church then you are limited to which schools you can get into. As are most people - especially in London.
Faith criteria may seem unfair but then all schools have criteria that also exclude very local people (again especially in London):
Someone living a stone's throw from a good school might not get in because priority is given to siblings living 3 miles away.
Not being able to afford to live in the streets surrounding a good school means you can't get a place and cheaper housing further out is too far away

Basically if you end up with bad options, it feels very unfair. But someone has to attend the 'worst' school. The 'worst' school probably won't stay that way for very long - if it is that bad it will be changed. And with more children than 'good' school places, any system will be unfair on somebody.

Your only other options are to look for undersubscribed schools in neighbouring boroughs and see if you prefer them to your local school since if they have spaces they will take you. Or you can keep your child at home / nursery until nearer his 5th Birthday whilst staying on lots of waiting lists and hoping to get an offer that way. It is stressful though I know.

LiloLils Wed 10-Apr-13 11:35:43

Sorry I shouldn't have bitten at your comment. I just found it to be a bit rude and it was knee jerk reaction. Not feeling well so I have a short fuse. blush

Oblomov Wed 10-Apr-13 11:42:23

O.k. OP.
Thanks Tiggy.
I do totally understand. See my first post showed that I am currently waiting for a school result for ds2 and know what the shortfall on places is. This does not affect me THAT much because I get ds2 in (I HOPE)under ds1 already being at the catholic school.
But as I said the shortfall is predicted at atleast 3/4 of a million , for this september, and will only get worse.
I can only see you going to local school or home educating. Maybe later is best for you.
I see no other choices.

Spero Wed 10-Apr-13 12:13:14

The absolute scandal is that those with money can move and play the system - there is an outstanding primary in Brixton which was about a 1/4 mile from my flat but a lot of the children there had very wealthy parents who rented a house on the school doorstep and then moved back to Clapham once their child got in, and then siblings would have priority. This the catchment area for that school shrank to a few hundred yards.

I think every child ought to be able to walk to a decent school. But fat chance of that as there aren't enough schools, even 'bad' ones.

So I do feel for you op, but a lot can happen in four years so dont panic now.

Tau Wed 10-Apr-13 12:16:58

Poor Lilo... you appear awfully stressed. Don't worry too much. I reckon it will all turn out fine.

If it is of any comfort:

I just looked up my son's (secondary) school's OFSTED reports.
In 2006, which was shortly before my son went there, they one 2 (good) many many grades 3 (satisfactory) for everything and even a couple of 4s (unsatisfactory)!
Plus generally a bad reputation.

Still placed my son there, and as I said, it all went smoothly for him. We never noticed any problems, he is really happy, enjoyed his lessons, and his grades are excellent. The school was not happy with their report, and they worked hard to improve.

In 2011 the school had another inspection, and this time they scored 2 (good) on everything and even a few 1s (outstanding).

Sooo.. your local 'bad' school could be a 'good' school too by the time your little one is old enough. And if not, home educating is an option too, isn't it? I think the home-ed community in London is pretty lively anyway.

Floggingmolly Wed 10-Apr-13 12:20:42

Don't be ridiculous, you are not being "punished". hmm
If you are not Catholic or C of E, you cannot attend a Catholic or C of E school, in the same way as if you had a broken leg, the Marsden Hospital would quite rightly refuse to treat you.
If the faith schools were not performing better than your allocated one; you wouldn't give a shiny shite that you'd been excluded.

littlecrystal Wed 10-Apr-13 12:21:49

I just wanted to add to the 'sitting at the church' thingy. Since having my DC and starting taking them to church I literally just sit through the mass. I don't hear a thing - DC keep me well occupied with their fidgeting during the almost 2 hour long mass. It is hard work to even be there so I stopped listening to the mass itself.

My DH is anglican and I must admit that I almost converted, their mass and community is so much nicer and more relaxed. The whole school thing made me to revive as a catholic churchgoer.

Sometimes I regret that chose this oustanding RC school instead a good community school, but I regret more by not baptising DS early as it does ruin our chances for the best secondary schools in our area.

BassDownLow Wed 10-Apr-13 12:25:43

Its a farce. Round my way, loads of people baptise their child just to get them in to a faith school. I'd hazard a guess that more than half the supposed Catholics who send their children to our local, outstanding RC schools only found Catholicism around the time they started thinking about school applications. It just doesnt make sense.

seeker Wed 10-Apr-13 12:38:07

Floggingmolly the hospital analogy doesn't work. Imagine if the Marsden said "Sorry, we're not going to treat your lymphoma because you're Jewish"

Copthallresident Wed 10-Apr-13 12:50:31

Flogging Molly What a ridiculous analogy, unless being a particular religion is akin to having your cells run mutant, and any other form of schooling would be life threatening and lead to physical pain. I suppose you also believe that selection on religious grounds is as justified as a special school catering for ASD or Dyslexia refusing admission to children without those disabilities? No hospital is going to refuse you because of your religion, imagine the outcry if they did?

I totally agree that this issue of hypocrisy would not arise if all schools were good but they are not and religious selection results not just hypocrisy but social and ethnic discrimination. It also leads to division within communities and the breaking up of existing communities. I had to move because fifteen years ago in our area of London, already there were not enough school places. The result was leaving a community that had grown up in anti natal and nursery, we are all now spread to the winds having moved, gone private, or had faith school choices either by dint of being genuinely devout or strategic manoeuvring to get through the hoops. At least distance criteria allow schools to cater for a community.

It is not even popular amongst some devout priests and members of the congregations since suddenly their churches are overrun with these strategic Christians who might arrange the flowers for a few years but do nothing to contribute to the long term mission of their church and lead to the exclusion from the schools of those children most deserving of their care.

And it is just plain unfair to discriminate against a child on the basis of their parents religion.

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 12:57:40

seeker - no again not quite the same. A certain religion is not required for Op's school. If OP choses to sit in a church every Sunday she'd have certain school options that she doesn't have by not sitting in church.
She doesn't have to be anything. She just has to go to a certain place at a set time each week.

But you can go around in circles forever on this.
All the time that some schools are worse than others and all the time there are thousands more children than there are school places (as is the case in London), a lot of people are going to be very disappointed.

Either they'll get a bad school. Or a school with no wrap around care. Or a school miles from home. Or a school their other children cannot go to. Or a school where they know nobody. Or a school that doesn't offer the things they'd like......

And then there are some people who get 'unfair' advantages in the system:
- Having a 9 year old sibling who got a place years ago gives priority even if the whole family now live miles out of the area depriving local children with no siblings of a place.
- Having enough money to buy a house in certain streets gives you choices others don't have because some housing isn't in the catchment for any school.
- Having the time or inclination to sit in church each Sunday gives you extra options over parents who can't or won't do this.
- Having a genuine Catholic faith and having met the requirements long before school was thought of gives others an advantage at very strict schools.
- Having a child clever enough to beat 1000 other children in a test (at secondary level in the Essex, South and North parts of London) gives you a choice of potentially 4 or 5 extra schools that nobody else gets a choice of

seeker Wed 10-Apr-13 13:06:38

"seeker - no again not quite the same. A certain religion is not required for Op's school. If OP choses to sit in a church every Sunday she'd have certain school options that she doesn't have by not sitting in church.
She doesn't have to be anything. She just has to go to a certain place at a set time each week."

I think this is taking pragmatism further than I can imagine. So you sit in church- you don't take part in the service, you don't say anything, you don't stand or kneel or sing or do anything that might suggest you are participating............Does the Vicar not have to write a supporting letter? I thought that was usual for over subscribed church schools.

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 13:15:21

seeker - Often there is an attendance book that you sign each week to 'prove' you've been.
Or the vicar signs a form. There is no letter of recommendation. He just signs to confirm whether you go monthly, fortnightly, weekly or less often. He doesn't write in brackets ('but they not joining in much and just stare at the windows'). He ticks the box and signs - that's it.
In fact anything more than that isn't allowed under the Admissions Code. He isn't allowed to favour one person instead of another because they pray properly!

As little crystal says earlier:
Since having my DC and starting taking them to church I literally just sit through the mass. I don't hear a thing - DC keep me well occupied with their fidgeting during the almost 2 hour long mass.

School admissions are cold and clinical.
There is no discretion.
You either qualify or you don't.
What you actually think or feel doesn't come into it at all so if you literally turn up and sit there every week but don't kneel or pray you might feel a bit conspicuous but for school purposes, you qualify.

mrz Wed 10-Apr-13 13:17:49

"Often there is an attendance book that you sign each week to 'prove' you've been." really shock

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 13:23:05

mrz - Yes really.
It is good practice in fact to keep good records because, where some church schools are massively oversubscribed, the people who 'only' go monthly might not get a place since dozens that go weekly will beat them on the admissions criteria

To avoid losing appeals, a school needs to prove that it has allocated places in strict accordance with the admission criteria published.
If church attendance is part of the admission criteria, they must ensure that they can correctly identify the people who best meet that criteria and therefore have allocated places in strict accordance with them.

So if a school gives priority to those who go to church weekly over those who go monthly and later face an appeal from a parent who goes monthly, they need to be able to prove that they filled all the places with children who genuinely attended weekly and therefore the school was right to turn down all the monthly attendees.

kingbeat23 Wed 10-Apr-13 13:28:28

Hi op,

Thought I'd add my opinion into the mix.

I find out my primary school allocation this time next week. I live in central London in social housing and was lucky enough to move from one end of the borough with zero choice and satisfactory schools or c of e/catholic schools, to the other end of the borough which had amazing choices of state and faith schools.

I could have chosen for my dd to go to the Jewish school in my area, but, feeling the way I do about organised religion, I decided it would be wholly hypocritical of me to force faith on my daughter when I clearly don't believe that's right (Much to the dismay of my family). The sect of the Jewish faith that would be taught in that school would be completely different to what I was taught too, so that has an opinion on me too.

I have chosen 4 schools out of a possible 6 and the main worry for me now is how I'm going to juggle childcare/work/me time and not on the schools, because as previous posters have said, once I started doing the tours I relied on gut instinct rather than ofsted reports and sat results.

A lot can change in 4 years, don't panic too much, you have time for all other sorts if worries first wink

mrz Wed 10-Apr-13 13:31:49

I don't think it's something that happens in this area

CecilyP Wed 10-Apr-13 13:34:35

Your DS is not being punished, OP, any more than any other child of non-churchgoing parents is being punished. And many of the others who will be excluded from the faith schools have parents who at least have sufficient Christian belief not to dismiss Christinity as 'fairy tales'.

I think from your later posts you have already decided against the Catholic school, so the rush to get your child christened is averted, unless you change your mind by the time your DS is going to secondary. So that leaves the C of E school or the other school. As the C of E school only has a PAN of 30, not many children will get in - so are all the other children seriously being punished? I am sure it is a lovely little school, but do you live close enough for a place even if you do decide to attend church? Don't forget a fair few of those 30 places will go to sibblings. And of the 5 places reserved for 'others', what do you have to do to be one of the others? Is it distance and do you, in fact, live close enough.

And do you really only have the choice of 3 schools? Are there any other schools a little further away where you might at least have a chance of a place?

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 13:34:42

I can see how a lot of this seems a bit OTT by the way. It is just how it is in London. There are people calculating the distance to their nearest school to several decimal points because in previous years people missed out by 15cm!
That's not faith schools - all the admissions seem pretty crazy in London and very strict and precise because the number applying is so vast it has to be done in a very clinical and 'fair' way.

The plus side with primary schools is that bulge classes are not uncommon. People who despair of getting any place or a local one are often pleasantly surprised to find that several local schools agree to take an extra 30 pupils each year.

LiloLils Wed 10-Apr-13 13:49:07

Just quickly...I know I've used dramatic wording, but the fact is my son is unable to attend the best school in the borough just because of our beliefs. And therefore he is being denied the best possible start in life. In my mind, my son is being punished for my beliefs (or non belief)

Khaleese Wed 10-Apr-13 13:55:29

Flogging molly all of the school are "faith" schools where i live...ALL of them. I would need to travel for 20mins to get a community school ( which i would never get into based on distance)

All of the schools are funded by the council tax....ALL of them.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 10-Apr-13 13:55:45


So are many other parents unable to attend the school if they don't fit the religious aspect of the school.
You sound very entitled tbh. Unless we are missing something and you are somehow more entitled to a place than others practising the religion.

OneLittleToddleTerror Wed 10-Apr-13 14:04:22

I don't think lilo is entitled. She's just faced with a choice - go against her belief and baptist her LO. Or try the London school lottery. She felt torn because she felt it's wrong to pretend to be an anglican or a catholic. Plenty of parents aren't.

It's like Khaleese says. In some areas, all the schools around them are faith schools. They have no choice but join the queue of kids who can't find a school place. That's what is wrong.

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 14:08:00

Lilo - on that basis many children are punished. You have to realise everyone wants the best school and in your area only 30 out of 300 are going to get it.

On your reckoning children are punished because their parents delayed having children until the crazy baby boom hit and now all the schools are full.

Or children are being punished because their parents cannot afford to live as close to a good school as it takes to get a place.

Or children are punished because their parents had secondary infertility so a huge age gap between siblings that means the youngest doesn't get automatic entry to the school the older one went to.

Or children are being punished because their older sibling has additional needs and is at a non mainstream school so they lose sibling priority all other siblings get

The truth is that with only 30 places, it is doubtful whether most church goers will even get a place at that school let alone someone who doesn't go. I agree this isn't 'fair' but what do you propose. Class sizes of 50? Random ballots for admissions leaving some people travelling miles away?
When you have to whittle 300 down to 30 it is going to upset 90% of everyone who applies.

seeker Wed 10-Apr-13 14:08:48

It is utterly ridiculous that anyone should be excluded from a state school on grounds of religion.

Imagine if the same applied to hospitals, or dialling 999, or streetlights or bin collection or any other tax funded service!

LiloLils Wed 10-Apr-13 14:10:29

So I suppose I must conclude that I shouldn't get my son baptised, I couldn't bear the hypocrisy. And just hope that things change in 4 years. Perhaps a new school will open, or the crap school will get better.

In my heart I doubt things will change, and so this is where I'm torn. I'm terrified I'll look back and regret not just swallowing my pride and doing the whole religious thing as so many of my friends and family are doing.

I'm really sickened by the whole sorry state of affairs. It is all so unfair. It makes my contempt for organised religion ever stronger. So I guess my answer lies here. I cannot imagine gritting my teeth at every mass. I can't imagine being anything other than dismayed at my child being taught the bible as truth. I can't imagine holding my tongue when asked about the subject.

So there it is. I'll not get my boy christened. If he ends up going to a poor school we will just have to ensure he gets extra education at home.

My family will not be best pleased (Irish Catholic) but I have to stick to what I believe...just as they do.

It still stresses me out thinking of the blatant discrimination but that is the system I guess. Not much can be done about it.

OneLittleToddleTerror Wed 10-Apr-13 14:12:54

lilo it's good you have made your choice, and hopefully peace. As you say, if you can't bring yourself to go to church every week, then you won't be looking back at this in 4 years with regrets.

Koyangwuti Wed 10-Apr-13 14:16:37

When I think of incredibly successful people throughout history, none come to mind who went to privileged schools. In fact, my biggest heroes, who are some of the most respected people in history, all went to schools that were considered poor in their childhoods.

This massive concern over our children going to the best possible schools is way overblown (at least in the early years) and, in my view, mostly pointless. It only matters in our own minds and the argument is only valid if built upon false premises, so in the end it is still wrong.

Children are mostly advantaged or disadvantaged because of their families--primarily their parents. If you want your child to read well by a certain age there is no factor anywhere near as influential in that as your involvement, as a parent, in seeing to it that your child will read well. The primary responsibility for our children, their education or anything else, rests upon us as parents and not upon the services available to help us, such as schools.

If you have moral concerns with playing religious when you are not, I say do not send your child to those schools. Send the child to the school you have no moral objection to and give your child the parental attention that makes the difference. In turn you will give the school a child they can lift up as a shining example of what great people can come from their school. Do not be a victim, be a hero.

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 14:16:57

It is utterly ridiculous that anyone should be excluded from a state school on grounds of religion.

....or address, or intelligence, or wealth, or age gap of siblings...

Nobody is excluded from any state school (except grammar schools if you don't pass the test). Some just qualify more than others.
Sitting in church can boost your eligibility at some schools just as moving house can boost it at others or marrying someone with step children at the school you really want will help at others - that's a pretty drastic solution though I concede!

Basically state schools are open to all but realistically you won't get into a 'good' one unless you meet the top criteria in London due to sheer weight of numbers. Needing to buy a £600k house is no more or less unfair than having to sit in church in terms of the relevance to education but there has to be a system of dishing out places and 'fairly' turning down the majority who apply. In OPs area, the vast majority of people will not be getting a place at the 'good' school whether they are church goers or live nearby.

CecilyP Wed 10-Apr-13 14:26:52

Just quickly...I know I've used dramatic wording, but the fact is my son is unable to attend the best school in the borough just because of our beliefs. And therefore he is being denied the best possible start in life. In my mind, my son is being punished for my beliefs (or non belief)

But, if the best school in the borough only has a PAN of 30, then the overwhelming majority of children will not be able to attend it. So only 30 children a year will have 'the best possible start in life'. They have to use some oversubscription criteria and have chosen church attendance in the first instance. If there are more churchgoers than places then some other criterion has to be used to select from these.

Are all the others children apart from these 30 being punished? I, for one, don't think so.

LiloLils Wed 10-Apr-13 14:29:16

Koyangwuti...what a wonderful post and outlook of the whole thing. Deep down I knew this but sometimes you have to be told something before you realise it to be true. I have been so caught up in everything I just couldn't think straight. My partner said the same thing to me but I didn't listen. I was in a frenzy of panic...brought about by friends and family pressuring me. I'm usually a laid back, easy going person but this whole religion thing turned me into a mentalist and an emotional mess.

mrz Wed 10-Apr-13 14:29:28

I would imagine with a PAN of 30 it would be difficult to get a place even if it wasn't a church school.

CecilyP Wed 10-Apr-13 14:40:34

You would have to live very close, mrz, but perhaps OP does.

CecilyP Wed 10-Apr-13 14:48:04

OP, you sound as if you are being pressurised by 2 different sets of people - those who find it hard to come to terms with the fact that you are no longer a Christian believer and those who can't believe that you would consider the local school. I am not surprised that this has created a certain amount of turmoil in your mind.

LiloLils Wed 10-Apr-13 14:57:40

Nail on head, CecilyP. I'm so tired of it all. My baby is only 6 months old and I'm fretting so much that I can't just enjoy being a mum to him.

I have decided to stick with my beliefs and sod everyone who is going to judge me. Like a lot of people have said, things change, and I have another 4 years. So I'm going to just forget about it if I can, and live in hope that things do change. If not, then our input as parents is going to become even more important. As I've already said, myself and my partner will be actively educating our son at home, regardless of what school he goes to.

MothershipG Wed 10-Apr-13 15:25:52

tiggy I get your point that there have to be selection criteria in awarding school places, as there is with other services such as hospitals, bin collections etc....

BUT for no other service is that criteria based on religion so why is ok to apply that criteria to education alone?

Just say the RC church stumped up some buildings and a 10% donation of the running costs for a new hospital, would it then be ok for them to prioritise RC patients? Can you imaging the outcry of it was even suggested?

What if a church was carrying out charitable work with homeless people (I know a lot of them do) would it be ok for them to turn people away on the basis of their religion?

Many faith schools were set up to educate the local children, not just those that belonged to their church, they have now moved away from this and even some church leaders are starting to question it.

So can you see how it doesn't seem right that only in education can my children be discriminated against on the grounds of my religion (or lack of it)? It's not even on their religious choices.

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 15:44:07

I am not defending any policy just explaining why we have so many faith schools, why they still exist and why admissions criteria (all of them) so often seem unfair.
I see no justification for example why living in a very expensive house can buy admission to a great school that people in social housing have no chance of getting into.
Yet that is the case with hundreds of community schools at present. A good school gets more applicants so pushes up the house prices in catchment roads until you have to be quite well off to be guaranteed a place.

My take on it though that it is more a numbers problem not a faith problem.
OP for example, like many people, is uncomfortable with organised religion. She doesn't actually want a faith school - just a good school. If she had the choice of an outstanding community school, she has implied she'd prefer that. But she doesn't - she has a good faith school or a poor community school and is therefore annoyed the good school is closed to her. With 300 applying though it is closed to most people - even religious ones (or ones with religious parents).
If the situation was reversed - if the faith school were poor and the community school excellent, again she wouldn't mind that the faith school had one set of criteria and the community school another.

The problem is most people (I am being a bit London-centric here) have no choice of state school because so many apply. The annoyance about faith criteria has grown because, whereas once they could choose from 2 or 3 decent local schools, now they get shipped off to an awful one miles from home and feel cross that the local faith ones are also closed to them. The community ones won't take them and they're way down the list for faith schools too.

There are no easy answers. There are good schools and bad schools and not enough good schools for every child to be placed in one. As such any admission system is effectively deciding which parents won't get their choices and which children will go to the 'worst' schools. That's not going to be popular however you decide between them. My take is there needs to be more places created, more schools expanded and more genuine choice for parents. If however you believe the problem is the fault of faith schools there are organisations you can join and donate to who have pushed for their abolition for years (Humanist Association etc)

Khaleese Wed 10-Apr-13 16:37:16

Tiggytape, is it not a good school because the catchment has wealthy children? Is it not all a bit chicken or egg?

Involved parents, extra curricular work, great governers, well mannered children etc etc.

I'm not saying it fair but religious discrimination is different to social factors.

tiggytape Wed 10-Apr-13 16:41:08

Very true Khaleese and the exact same argument applies to faith schools too.
If you have parents whose lives are organised, settled and suitably focused on education to push them to attend church every Sunday for 2 years, then it follows that they are more likely to be the type of parents who ensure homework is completed, bedtimes are reasonable and school attendance is good.
There is nothing magic about faith schools with strict criteria and good results. They simply attract the type of parents that often guarantees them an easy intake.

Khaleese Wed 10-Apr-13 17:09:12

I think anyone that obtains a place at a school in that way has cheated another child out of their righful place.

It's wrong and no amount of justification on how your child is more important than another would ever convince me otherwise.

The School application process should be fair, without discrimination or preference.

If we all accepted our local school and were forced to do so, schools would be better.

Copthallresident Wed 10-Apr-13 17:43:00

khalese In the recent judicial review of the decision to make the proposed new Catholic school in Richmond voluntary aided so it could be exclusive, rather than a Free School which would have it's faith admissions capped at 50%, the Council and dioceses' case rested on the "desire" for a Catholic education for Catholic children versus the "need" for school places for "ordinary children" (their actual words). You really couldn't make it up.

seeker Wed 10-Apr-13 23:34:05

Please will somebody explain to me why it is somehow OK to regulate admissions to a state school based on religious observance, but not access to a NHS hospital, or to streetlights paid for by the tax payer?

Why is education a special case?

exoticfruits Thu 11-Apr-13 06:56:28

It is supply and demand, seeker. In the countryside the church school will be the only school and it takes all in the catchment area. If people want a place from outside the catchment there is a list of criteria. Church attendance will be high in the criteria because they may be a family who attend church and don't have a church school. In towns there are more schools so more choice. A lot of church schools have a good reputation and people want them therefore they can set their criteria.
Parental choice of school is a myth. It should read 'parental choice if space. If the church school has lots if space they will get much further down the list of criteria and may well take every single child that wants a space. They need full schools to get the money.
Hospitals are for the ill and you get out as soon as you are better! If the hospital is full and you need one you will be sent to another. You are admitted as and when, a lot of it as emergencies. No one sits down with a list of patients that need a place next September to see if they fit a criteria- no one knows if they need a place in September.
I can't see how street lights possibly come into it!! No streets would have street lights if every house had to be a churchgoer. It isn't possible for one householder to be able to have one and the next door neighbour to be left in darkness. Are we supposed to employ someone in each street to keep out those who don't attend church?

mrz Thu 11-Apr-13 06:58:18

If the school is a VA school (one that controls the admissions) then the church is owns and is responsible for the upkeep of the building/land and some capital funding. If it is a VC the LA control the admissions and the church plays no part in setting the criteria staff appointments or the RE curriculum.

MothershipG Thu 11-Apr-13 07:00:01

Seeker No one will be able to do that because it clearly isn't ok! angry

Tiggy I can see you are taking a pragmatic approach, but what frustrates me is that other than campaigning against them, as a parent I have felt completely powerless in the face of this inequitable behemoth of a system. sad

exoticfruits Thu 11-Apr-13 07:19:32

You really need to read up on the history of education if you want to understand it.

seeker Thu 11-Apr-13 07:38:35

A glance at the actual % of funding provided by the church in faith schools is usually quite interesting. I think people have the idea that the Church has a higher financial input than it actually does.

seeker Thu 11-Apr-13 07:39:11

And hospitals used to be run by religious institutions too.

mrz Thu 11-Apr-13 08:07:28

I think the difference between schools and hospitals is that the church often owns the land and/or the school building so retain some ownership.

littlecrystal Thu 11-Apr-13 08:25:20

I agree with OP's choice and everything that has been said but if OP is worried about it now when her baby is only 6 months, I can see her coming back and regretting later on the line, unless you are a very strong woman. I waa exactly like you and I gave in.

exoticfruits Thu 11-Apr-13 08:29:54

You can't get over the fact that the church owns the land and buildings. If they have to get out of education they would have to sell it to the state- not just hand it over. A lot of people gave the land to the church in the first place and they didn't give it to the state.

tiggytape Thu 11-Apr-13 09:47:42

Why is education a special case?

Because they provided education first - state schools were an after thought. Because they own the land and buildings and the state cannot just take these away. Because the law allows this exception

Tiggy I can see you are taking a pragmatic approach, but what frustrates me is that other than campaigning against them, as a parent I have felt completely powerless in the face of this inequitable behemoth of a system.

Don't get me wrong. There is a lot about the admissions system and my own situation that annoys me!

1. I live in a house that isn't in the catchment area of any school. Not one. So we apply on time and list local schools but won't get an offer at any of them
2. We live in an 'academised' area where many academies have dropped medical priority for schools but I have a child with a physical condition and medical condition that will affect which schools she can attend yet she will get no priority for this (even with hospital letters to prove it) and medical notes.
3. The waiting list system gives no priority to people without a school place. So when I get no offer for my DD, we will be on the lists with everyone else. Someone who has been allocated their 2nd choice school will be above my DD if they live closer to another school than us even though they already have one of their top choice schools and we have no school at all

But that is the system and much as it annoys me personally, I accept it is largely fair (except for the medical priority thing - I think that is not fair but something I will have to take to appeal).
It annoys me that we don't qualify for a school but I accept that if 500 people live closer to all of them than I do then why should I be allowed to jump the queue?
I accept waiting lists are based on facts not on who deserves it most so I accept we will be lower down.
There has to be a cold, rational way of dishing out popular places and in London, many people are going to be disappointed with what they get purely due to sheer weight of numbers.

tiggytape Thu 11-Apr-13 09:55:32

Sorry the point of my rather long rant post was that I still think it is a numbers thing not a faith or even admissions thing.

I don't think most parents would be bothered that they are effectively excluded from Catholic schools if there was 1 or 2 outstanding community schools that they could get into. It becomes more of an annoyance when the local community schools are full or poor because it is yet one more door closed to them.

Just like I wouldn't be fussing about who gets what priority for waiting lists and admissions if it wasn't for the fact that so many people apply that it leaves people in my road (and many other roads) with no school option at all. If there were less applying or more places to apply to there wouldn't be situations where some children are left with no local place and a desperate worry about how to avoid this.

I take a diffetent stand point to some as I am not interested in being excluded from such schools. As an athiest I actively didn't want him to attend a religious school as (and I don't wish to cause offence) I don't want him being force fed religion in school. I want him to go there to be educated and encouraged to question things, not accept ancient tales as truth without queation.

To be honest, I don't think that 'worship' has any place in non religious schools either though I accept that is not todays issue.

Copthallresident Thu 11-Apr-13 11:11:45

mrz That is not necessarily true. Some VA schools are , like the Catholic one just established in Richmond, on Council land leased from the Council on a peppercorn rent. The Schools are required to contribute 10% of capital costs but often suggest that parents contribute to a maintenance fund . It is estimated the Catholic church contributes 0.7% of capital costs , £25 per child per year. All the rest is paid by the taxpayer.

Faith schools are not just a historic phenomenan, the VA route is one that Councils can link up with diocese to exploit to create new schools. You have Councils who have a strategy that is underpinned by the assumption that new schools should not be faith schools with religious criteria for admissions because they do not meet the social need, because they discriminate against the most vulnerable families who will not have the time and resources to meet the criteria. On the other hand you have Councils like Richmond who with a leadership working with the diocese have prioritised a Catholic School over the provision of much needed community places. Next year the only way that Richmond will have sufficient school places is if the parents who responded to the Councils neglect of the need for community place by putting together a Free School proposal are successful, yet the Council gave the best site for that school away to the Catholic Church.

Copthallresident Thu 11-Apr-13 11:13:04

Sorry on capital cost, all the rest I'd paid for by taxpayer 90% and parents 9.3%

mrz Thu 11-Apr-13 11:23:28

The VA route was established because the churches already had established schools which the state wanted to take over and it was a compromise which allowed the church a degree of control.

Copthallresident Thu 11-Apr-13 11:26:55

OP One thing I would observe is that as far as religious schools are concerned the old saying that you can lead a horse to water etc is very true. You are evidence of that. At Oratory , a Catholic School so selective it has flower arranging in the criteria there have been two issues recently that would be of concern to parents, the handing out of anti abortion leaflets by some sixth formers and the refusal to allow a choir to visit because of some implications of homosexuality (sorry can't remember why exactly) on both issues DDs friends there had the same response as you would expect of most of their generation. The girls who gave out the leaflets were dismissed as zealots and there was disgust at the attitude to homosexuality, albeit in a shrugged but what can you do about the outdated attitudes , rather than campaigning way. At another Catholic private school I know of , the head boy was gay, unbeknownst to Head , and his leaving speech was peppered with 'in' references that were not understood by the Head but were by the pupils to their amusement, and actually most of the parents .

Copthallresident Thu 11-Apr-13 11:31:57

mrz but the point I am making is that it is not just a historic phenomenon, the D of E have made it clear it has been left open for the churches to establish new exclusive schools. Of course once established they can then take on academy status and receive full funding from Central government whilst retaining exclusive admissions.

mrz Thu 11-Apr-13 11:38:28

I am not suggesting that it is a historical phenomenon

LiloLils Fri 12-Apr-13 00:51:36

I was speaking to my mum briefly about it this evening. I said a lot of things can change in 4 years. To which she retorted "well as long as he doesn't end up in that shit school. It's been shit for 30 years".


deleted203 Fri 12-Apr-13 01:10:59

I do honestly struggle to understand why anyone with an active dislike of organised religion, who has no faith, would want to send their child to a Catholic school, TBH.

I'm not a Catholic, and therefore wouldn't particularly want my DCs to go to a school that is run along these lines. I don't want my children being taught that birth control is not allowed or that abortion and homosexuality are grave sins. Similarly I don't want my DCs in a Muslim school that is teaching them that Islam is the one true religion.

Whilst understanding that people will say, 'Oh, but it's the only good school in the area,' I still find it slightly bizarre that they would then be offended that their own offspring would be rejected on religious grounds. Presumably the practising Catholics in the area want their own children educated in this school, surrounded by others who share their faith?

LiloLils Fri 12-Apr-13 01:21:59

The question that keeps wandering into my mind is this:

what is more important: my set of beliefs, or ensuring my son has the best start in life I can give him.

I can't seem to get this thought out of my mind, even though I have realistically made my decision. I can't help but think I'm making a mistake and I'll regret not "playing the system"

LiloLils Fri 12-Apr-13 01:26:12

And of course I'm offended that my son is being discriminated against purely because of what his parents believe. It's not his fault for crying out loud.

deleted203 Fri 12-Apr-13 01:37:39

But do you honestly believe that sending your child to a school that preaches a faith you don't believe in is giving him the best start in life? I don't want my children being educated by people who may teach them beliefs I disagree with.

LiloLils Fri 12-Apr-13 01:47:36

That is what I'm agonising over. I don't want my son to be taught these things as true. Similarly, I don't want my son to attend the crap school. I have to decide what is more important.

I had catholic education, and I was able to make up my own mind about it. So it only stands to reason that he can too. I never took the religious aspect seriously (after I came to the conclusion I didn't believe) and I even got myself confirmed as a teenager so I could attend the better college. So I'm already guilty of doing this in a way. As a teenager though, I didn't care. I just wanted to get into the better college.

LiloLils Fri 12-Apr-13 01:50:05

That is what I'm agonising over. I don't want my son to be taught these things as true. Similarly, I don't want my son to attend the crap school. I have to decide what is more important.

I had catholic education, and I was able to make up my own mind about it. So it only stands to reason that he can too. I never took the religious aspect seriously (after I came to the conclusion I didn't believe) and I even got myself confirmed as a teenager so I could attend the better college. So I'm already guilty of doing this in a way. As a teenager though, I didn't care. I just wanted to get into the better college.

CheerfulYank Fri 12-Apr-13 02:23:05

I am religious, and I think it sucks that you're in this position.

Here in the States you have to pay through the nose if you want your DC in a religious school. Our state funded schools are secular. I think it's how it should be. DS will be taught about our beliefs at home and church, not school.

LiloLils Fri 12-Apr-13 02:37:51

That's exactly as it should be, cheerful.

Just as I should be asleep. My boy wakes in approx 3 hours. This issue just will not leave my already frazzled brain. It makes me so angry!!!!!!!!!!!!

exoticfruits Fri 12-Apr-13 06:58:06

I would have faith in your DS - you were taught that things were true and yet made up your own mind- I would assume that he would do the same.
I know quite a lot of people who were brought up as Catholics - they are a smallish sample but not one of them is a Catholic now - they include one who was told by a nun that she would never do well in exams if she didn't attend Sunday Mass. ( she didn't and got to Oxford!)
Why not just send him to the best school and have discussions at hime about the religious side?
I don't think that children are the empty vacuums that people assume- they think deeply and make up their own minds. Bring them up to question everything- including you.

CecilyP Fri 12-Apr-13 17:03:52

I was speaking to my mum briefly about it this evening. I said a lot of things can change in 4 years. To which she retorted "well as long as he doesn't end up in that shit school. It's been shit for 30 years".

That is such a nasty thing to say. Even if the school does not change one bit in 4 years, it will still be an OK school with teachers doing their utmost with perhaps a challenging catchment. Can I ask if the RC school has had its good reputation for 30 years?

While, I daresay, people of all social classes choose to go to church, it would only be a certain demographic who would attend church when they normally wouldn't be inclined to, just to get their child into a particular school. Any school that selects in this way will have automatic parental support and would not have to work so hard to do well and impress Ofsted. You are the sort of parent who is likely to give that support, so your DS is likely to do fine wherever he goes.

Talkinpeace Sat 13-Apr-13 19:48:51

I am an atheist
as are my children
I was a school governor at their CofE primary school

I am genuinely bemused why people worry about church stuff for "Controlled" schools
they are STATE schools
the church pays nothing
it has no control over admissions
what is all this guff about christenings?
LEA schools follow the Admissions code.
"Aided" schools have a small part of their capital budget from the church but the VAST VAST bulk comes straight from the dfe

Talkinpeace Sat 13-Apr-13 19:53:07

Here is the standard budget of a CofE "Aided" School - one with max church influence
no diocese input shown there .....

BranchingOut Sun 14-Apr-13 09:03:27

The stuff about christening is not guff, it does appear on admissions criteria for some faith schools, mostly RC.

MothershipG Sun 14-Apr-13 09:11:06

Talkin there are 2 types of church school, voluntary aided and voluntary controlled, one has no control over admissions the other does.

And it's not just RC schools that set this sort of criteria, there is a CofE high school near me that has additional criteria around church involvement for which you get extra points. I had the form, I spoke to the admissions person, they are over subscribed so these are the criteria they apply.

seeker Sun 14-Apr-13 09:13:19

I wish the christening thing was "guff" but it isn't. I've known people frantically hunting for baptismal certificates, writing off to long closed churches asking them to hunt for records, and one even wondering whether the inscribed baptismal candle she found in her loft would do......

exoticfruits Sun 14-Apr-13 10:46:27

When my DS went to a church school, christening and church attendance was never asked about. It was the village school-we lived in the village.

Talkinpeace Sun 14-Apr-13 13:10:25

Roman Catholic schools most certainly have religious requirements.
I'd be interested to know how a CofE school got church attendance through the Admissions code.

I know the difference between Aided and Controlled : my kids were at a Controlled. But if you look at the budget linked above, even aideds are just state schools despite what they might want to tell people.

mrz Sun 14-Apr-13 13:19:38

My colleagues two children attend a Catholic School even though the family aren't Catholic (non religious) neither child has been baptised and the family don't attend any church.

BooksandaCuppa Sun 14-Apr-13 13:52:49

Virtually all of the CofE schools in our county (about half the primaries and I think about 3 secondaries) are VC. Same admission code as the community schools.

None of them are that religious. Some of the community schools are and some aren't. Historically, it's a predominantly Methodist area.

The Catholic schools are a different matter for admissions (only a handful of these) but they're also very ill thought of with poor results so only practising Catholics want to go them anyway.

exoticfruits Sun 14-Apr-13 13:58:07

I have taught in a variety of C of E schools-religion didn't come into admissions-they were village schools and served the village.

seeker Sun 14-Apr-13 14:24:22

Presumably because they were not oversubscribed. The religious criteria only come into effect once the school oversubscribed.

I find it fascinating that people who are pro faith schools in general always say stuff like "oh, there's hardly any religious teaching - you would hardly knew it was a faith school" and stuff like that. But they cling like glue to the concept.

If it doesn't make any difference, then you wouldn't mind them being abolished, and the collective worship legislation being repealed, then will you!

Talkinpeace Sun 14-Apr-13 14:50:41

in non selective counties, most primaries are under subscribed in years R - 3 at the moment (as the bulge is currently in years 5 and 6)

Ampfield - which I often link to - nearly closed because it dropped to 15 / 150 pupils : despite being in the catchment for Kings Winchester and Peter Symonds (no entry exams) - because average house prices in catchment rose to £2 million : but they have filled up with out of catchment kids.
They are Aided but not at all fussy!

teacherwith2kids Sun 14-Apr-13 15:00:47

Talkin, are you sure about the numbers bulge?

Here, 7 is the smallest year group, with numbers then increasing year on year all the way down to reception, after which numbers are due to stabilise slightly. Temporary bulge classes accommodate the extras in the current Year 1, with significant additional permanent capaicity having been built over the last 18 months to accommodate the current Year R and fuiture years - e.g. a 45 PAN school is now permanently 60 PAN, and a 1 class per year school has been expanded to 2 form. This is in addition to EVERY school being full to capacity for all infant year groups - whereas e.g. DS's Year 6 class last year operated below 30 for the entire time.

teacherwith2kids Sun 14-Apr-13 15:08:39

Ans seeker, in the county where I worked in a C of E VC school, there is no mention of religion in the admission arrangements for VC schools AT ALL. So however oversubscribed they were, places were allocated in a 'normal' looked after, siblings in catchment, catchment, siblings out of catchment, others in order of distance way.

The (very small number of) VA schools might have had religion in their oversubscription criteria, but in the overwhelming majority of C of E schools in that county, religion NEVER became a factor.

Talkinpeace Sun 14-Apr-13 15:44:25

in Hampshire it is - London is unusual because of the high level of transience - we had the huge influx of Poles and then it has eased off . We are probably more respresentative of the country at large.

exoticfruits Sun 14-Apr-13 15:57:59

There was never a problem, seeker. Living in catchment came top so if you lived in catchment you got a place, there was no other school. If you are trying to get into a school out of catchment then I can't say. I got my DS a church school out of catchment and religion was never mentioned, I couldn't have used it for a reason, as the school I didn't want him to go to was also a church school.

teacherwith2kids Sun 14-Apr-13 16:02:52

I am nowwhere near London - and both the county I live in, and the county I have worked in, have the pattern that I describe. If the bulge has indeed passed, why is there such an issue at the moment with a lack of primary school places countrywide? chimes very much with my experience, and even though some counties around us show as 'projected surplus of over 5%', the spare capacity IME is falling year on year (so schools that were running at, say 80 % capacity until a few years ago are now operating at 90 - 95% in Reception and KS1 - still 'blue' on the chart but with the surplus shrinking rapidly)

mrz Sun 14-Apr-13 16:29:51

Mid wives and Health visitors in my area are warning us of a baby boom ...they are calling it the 50 shades effect

MothershipG Sun 14-Apr-13 16:30:25

Great link teacher, very informative, thanks.

I'm in West London and all the primaries around here have been pressurised to go up a form. The one my DC attend/attended is on a very constricted site, not a blade of grass to be seen, and has had to go up to 3 forms, it's not even full and the kids can hardly move in the playground, like battery hens. While another local primary, which does have a much bigger site has gone to 4 forms, which I personally think is too big for a primary school. But there isn't time or land to build new schools and the LEA have to find a place for every child.

This is obviously going to be an issue for Secondary schools as well.

So under these conditions the faith schools are applying strict faith based criteria causing community division and bad feeling all round.

tiggytape Sun 14-Apr-13 16:32:57

I'd be interested to know how a CofE school got church attendance through the Admissions code.

Lots of CofE schools have faith criteria. There are 2 types of CofE school: VA and VC. The ones that are VA often have church attendance as a criteria. It is not just Catholic schools who do this. Of course there are areas where the CofE schools do not have faith criteria as well and are community schools in all but name. There's a website here about CofE schools explaining their faith criteria

In London the bulge is not in Year 5
In London and surrounding areas the current Year 7 is the smallest and all year groups below it are getting ever bigger, The real baby boom started in 2008 here.

In the last 2 years, 80,000 new places have been created for primary schools nationawide yet by 2014 London will still be 80,000 places short! They are considering using empty public buildings as classrooms.

It officially at crisis point although I accept there are pockets of the country that might not have experienced this boom quite so much or have has surplus places to start with. I know places like Birmingham and Bristol and Reading are just as bad as London though. There's an article here

"And of course I'm offended that my son is being discriminated against purely because of what his parents believe"

The only people really discriminating your son here, is you.

You are the one who is taking away his option of attending a CofE school later on, even for Secondary.

And what will you say if your 13 / 16 year old son is asking why your principles were more important to you than him and his education.

What if he would want to be a Christian, and you have taken such a strong Atheist stance?

teacherwith2kids Sun 14-Apr-13 16:42:42

"In London and surrounding areas the current Year 7 is the smallest and all year groups below it are getting ever bigger, The real baby boom started in 2008 here."

Tiggy, as I say, that is also our experience (significant distance from London).

Viviennemary Sun 14-Apr-13 16:50:31

I think it would be a lot better if we didn't have religious schools. But we do. You will have to do as your conscience dictates and what you feel is best for your child.

MothershipG Sun 14-Apr-13 17:09:34

What if he would want to be a Christian, and you have taken such a strong Atheist stance?

And what if he wants to be a muslim, or a hindu or a Jedi?

And that is precisely why a state funded educational system should NOT be based on parental religious choices! Thank you for putting the matter so clearly. wink

Xenia Sun 14-Apr-13 17:13:34

Perhaps you are failing him not because of religion but because you do not earn enough to pay school fees. Get a better job. Pay fees. Problem sorted or move elsewhere.

"And what if he wants to be a muslim, or a hindu or a Jedi? "
Then I am sure he can convert!

Xenia has a point.

There are many ways in which you are failing your child from an education perspective, the biggest is perhaps in your refusal to move to an area where this is not an issue!

Spero Sun 14-Apr-13 17:20:09

I am in top ten percent of earners. I could only afford school fees of circa £10k per year by not eating, buying clothes or ever turning on the hearing.

Just how many of these high paying jobs do you think are out there?

Not a very helpful contribution to this debate. Might as well berate op for not winning the lottery.

Spero Sun 14-Apr-13 17:22:12

O yes, moving to an area with great schools (and consequently much more expensive housing) is such an easy thing to do! New jobs are just lying about on street corners after all.

Some of you are a bit bonkers I think.

MothershipG Sun 14-Apr-13 17:26:48

Quint the OP explained that due to financial difficulties she is living with her Mum so she may not be able to afford to move.

I took Xenia's post as sarcasm?

I do find it hard to understand how many supporters of faith schools think it's ok to lie about belief, all this business about it's only attendance that counts, just do it to get your kid in? Seems very disrespectful to me and I'm an atheist! shock

It must be the "missionary" in us, eh?

Spero Sun 14-Apr-13 17:29:40

If that is Xenia being sarcastic and I missed it, then in my defence she is remarkably consistent in her sarcasm on every thread.

teacherwith2kids Sun 14-Apr-13 17:52:58


Sadly, I believe that Xenia believes exactly what she says..

(I also believe her to be a little odd, and living in a very strange North London bubble, but that's beside the point)

tiggytape Sun 14-Apr-13 17:57:25

There is a map here that shows areas of real concern in terms of shortages (you might need to scroll down).

In areas that are red, more than 15% of children under the current figures would be without a school place. In those areas, no matter what the admission criteria you apply, a sizeable number won't get their first choice or perhaps any choice of school at all (London, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol etc)

As Mothership said, the problem isn't so much that faith schools have faith criteria. If only 29 children applied for 30 places, the faith criteria wouldn't even be looked at. It is only ever used in oversubscribed schools.
The problem is that with 300 applicants for 30 places any set of criteria you use is going to upset 90% of people who apply. Even the faith criteria at these schools will mean most church goers won't get a place

If there wasn't such a huge shortage of places very few would care that only worshippers could get into faith schools. They'd happily go to a choice of 2 or 3 good community schools instead. When suddenly there is no longer the option of a local community schools, parents are very upset. They are upset that the baby boom has shrunk catchments of communtiy schools to a few hundred metres and the fact that church schools are similarly oversubscribed and blocked to them is an extra blow.

ovenchips Sun 14-Apr-13 18:56:13

Lilolils. I'm sorry to read you are so worried and angry about the difficult school choices for your son.

IMO this is one of those issues that you can get into an utter flap about but will 100% be resolved because it has to be! Come 4 or 5 he will be at school/ home schooled and you will have made the best choice for your son out of the options available. Things will work out because you sound determined to make them work (whether you christen, whether you go to local school and get extra input, whether you homeschool).

So please know that a decision will get made and this turmoil will be behind you.

I hope this does not sound like cold comfort, it's truly not meant to be, I just know there's a difference between agonising decisions as a parent about things that you have to manage long term, and choices you have to make from time to time that are really quite difficult but you simply make the best choice out of hat is possible, because you have to.

Xenia Sun 14-Apr-13 18:58:57

Some parents will put holidays before paying fees. Some shoes. Obviously if there is no way you could take a second job or one of you work at weekends to afford fees that is fair enough but have a go. Plenty of parents do manage it and career success can also be good for families and relationships.

Also moving to be where there are good schools is not such a controversial statement. Parents do it every week. It is not that rare to put your child first.

exoticfruits Sun 14-Apr-13 19:12:48

I took Xenia's post as sarcasm?

I don't think Xenia does sarcasm. She believes that anyone is failing their DC if they won't/can't do school fees. Personally I prefer to use good state schools and have holidays and time.

teacherwith2kids Sun 14-Apr-13 19:14:54

Exotic, personally I prefer to use state schools and eat....

The amount of money I spend on shoes (about £50 a year, 0 in some years) isn't going to keep anyone in a private school...

mrz Sun 14-Apr-13 19:36:11
Spero Sun 14-Apr-13 19:47:18

I do so love reading the most highly rated comments on the DM online articles.

exoticfruits Sun 14-Apr-13 19:49:04

Xenia's slant on the world is one of the things that makes MN such a fascinating place and quite addictive. smile

Talkinpeace Sun 14-Apr-13 19:51:00

Variety is the spice of life.
Xenia is our chipotle.

teacherwith2kids Sun 14-Apr-13 19:52:27

I was thinking of her as uber-Marmite...

Spero Sun 14-Apr-13 19:53:22

She is always consistent so kudos for that.

teacherwith2kids Sun 14-Apr-13 20:08:36

Spero, I don't know, though, whether a failure to modify one's views in the slightest, even in the face of compelling evidence and rational argument, is something to admire or something to be ashamed of?

Spero Sun 14-Apr-13 20:28:43

At least you know where you stand!

And if she ever goes away and people miss her, it will be easy to programme a xenia meme generator.

Xenia Sun 14-Apr-13 22:07:43

PW's problem ( see link above) is she picked a lowish paid career - journalism and unlike most people spent spent spent in good times and put nothing aside so now finds life so "hard" in her terms that she has to invent deliberately provocative articles to feed herself.

Spero Sun 14-Apr-13 22:11:48

She was earning six figures. Is this your definition of a 'lowish' paid career?

If so, then your arguments have no validity for 99% of the population who earn less.

CheerfulYank Mon 15-Apr-13 02:22:50

That article is hilarious! At least, as someone whose family of three (soon to be four) lives on about 42,000 pounds I would think so. grin

BranchingOut Mon 15-Apr-13 07:05:09

The article is, obviously, farcical. But it does make an important point: even salaries that you might imagine would bring a luxurious lifestyle are rapidly eroded due to London's high costs of housing.

My DH earns more than Ms Wyatt, but we live fairly simply and are not daft enough to even consider buying some of the brands she mentions.

I think this was mentioned before in relation to Toby Young: the children of the old-wealthy and privileged, believing that they will be able to reproduce the lifestyle they experienced as a child for their own children, suddenly find themselves coming up with a bump against the costs of housing and the overspill of high prices from the most desirable parts of London. School fees then begin to look rather tricky....

Talkinpeace Mon 15-Apr-13 17:12:08

Petronella's dad must have been so proud of her

LiloLils Tue 14-May-13 15:59:02

Hello all

At the risk of being chased by pitchforks off this MN thread, I just thought I'd update you on proceedings.

I've had a complete change of heart and I'm getting my boy baptised RC.

I live on the doorstep of 2 of the best (boys) secondary schools in London. Both are RC. I've decided that my boy's education is far more important than my ideals. He, like me, will make up his own mind when he's old enough. But for now, the Catholic schools are the best and that's what I'm going with. Sod my principles. Sod the hypocrisy. I don't care anymore. All that matters to me now is ensuring my boy gets the best start in life. In central London, well where I live anyway, the RC route is the best.

I've gone back to my church, its been nearly 15 years since I last attended. I saw familiar, friendly faces (I've been reunited with a special friend I hadn't seen in years). I sat with my boy and listened to quite an interesting sermon. We walked around when my boy got restless, and he took quite a shine to the statue of Mary. I surprised myself...I felt quite happy to be there. No, I haven't found god. But I have laid to rest my feelings of doubt about doing the right thing when it comes to my son's education. I'm happy to attend church once a week now. The community spirit was lovely.

So, there you go. Thank you for a very interesting debate, I enjoyed reading everyone's views.

<runs away>

handcream Tue 14-May-13 16:14:31

Its a horrible choice to make and I am somewhat surprised that some on this thread are saying send him to a crap school... Really - would you. I wouldnt!

annh Tue 14-May-13 17:08:41

What age is your son? Make sure you don't go through the process of having him christened only to find that it wasn't done early enough for the admissions process for your chosen school to get him a place.

IrritatingInfinity Tue 14-May-13 18:13:39

I have only just come to this thread and I haven't read all the posts, sorry.

I just wanted to say when we were overseas we had no choice to send our DCs to religious schools (Catholic and 'Christian') I don't think it did them any harm at all even though I would have preferred to send them to secular schools. The schools knew our DCs were not religious but were ok with it.

If I were in the OP's positionI would do the same even though it would irritate me a lot! I can't stand people being hypocritical but I would still do it in the OPs position.

I think ALL schools should be secular.

IrritatingInfinity Tue 14-May-13 18:14:56

Sorry, I forgot to add a 'good luck' for the OP and her DC. smile

thesecretmusicteacher Tue 14-May-13 20:34:54

to quote Ant and Dec

"you weren't expecting that were you? You were not expecting that!"

good luck OP!

Good for you OP. I'm non-religious myself. If I could go back and do it all again I'd have put my son in the local Catholic school. The school he ended up in was ruled by the council estate thug kids, he had a hellish time, and I actually had to remove him and home educate for three years because I was worried he'd carry out his threats to kill himself.

I have told similarly minded family members to put their childrens wellbeing ahead of their principles. So many non-religious schools are hellpits, I walk past a local one to go to work and the kids hang out of the windows (at 10 in the morning) hooting and screeching. They look more like a small and unruly prison population, than children in an educational environment.

LiloLils Fri 17-May-13 10:30:52

Thanks so much for the positive comments. I expected a back lash, I thought people would be disgusted at my hypocrisy! I feel so much better since my decision and I'm getting into it now...I'm going to ask the priest if I can set up a drama group for the kids (they had one when I was a child and I loved it) son is 8 months old. Admission criteria for the secondary schools state that you get 2 more points if baptised before 6 months...really shite that I didn't make my decision sooner but I can gain more points by getting involved with the church, so that's what I'll do.

I've mellowed out about the whole thing now. I still think its a really unfair system, but I'm happy to play the game now for the sake of my son.

thesecretmusicteacher Fri 17-May-13 13:21:06

you've made your peace with something (the Catholic Church) that was always going to be a big part of your life for good or bad.
that's important for you and your family xx

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