campaign for fairer admissions to faith based primary schools - your views...

(305 Posts)
hopingforbest Thu 06-Jun-13 22:29:22

... on this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-22798206?

BayJay Sun 30-Jun-13 18:50:14

This Independent Feature is all about one family's approach to getting a place at their local school.

I think the bit at the end about the vicar's perspective is interesting. Not sure how typical it is, but certainly there's a wide range of views among the clergy. I know one of my local CE schools doesn't use baptism in its criteria specifically because the vicar who was a governor at the time saw it as something that should be kept sacrosanct. However, the same vicar made it clear on his website that all were welcome at his services, including atheists, and was happy to sign people's school forms if they met the attendance stats. Church attendance shot up as a result, because people saw it as no more hypocritical than going to church for a wedding or funeral. People are used to listening respectfully (if selectively) to religious sermons.

Another local vicar signed a friend's form knowing full well they hadn't set foot in a church. Apparently he was annoyed that the school in question prioritised families from its neighbouring church, which therefore poached families from his own church.

mam29 Sat 29-Jun-13 21:17:30

Im going to out myself.

I placed dd1 in rc school as 10mins from our house, had good ofsted and reasonable sats.

we nor rc infact 50%of the school intake were non rc.

few polish.

why?

faith schools tended to be smaller
get better results than community schools.

we are coe but had no coe schools nearby.

rc admission by faith.

3nearest coe schools here voluntary comtrolled by council so no spaces reserved for faith even though they all baptised coe.

2years later rc school failing dd1 not happy.

moved in year admission to small coe village school.

but I have no sibling link for younger 2sad

its worth the travel and its much more multicultural other faiths too than rc one was.

Sfew left rc ones with faith stayed.

seniors have zero chance of getting into

rc senior unless rc -oe of best in city

the coe ones have to go church every week least 3years and be baptised,

no faith schools on our county.

so getting into faith senior need to be much more committed than at primary level.

LizzyDay Fri 28-Jun-13 22:41:29

Lynette - do you think the state should fund faith schools for all the major religions in each area? If so, how would you define a major religion?

GrimmaTheNome Fri 28-Jun-13 21:56:11

> Its religious inclusion that's the issue. And in some areas social inclusion too.
There are some strikingly bad examples in the Lancashire mill towns. I once saw a lovely set of pictures in a museum done by children of two schools. One was a CofE school; the other 'community'. The names were 100% split between typical 'white british' and muslim/other Asian.

BayJay Fri 28-Jun-13 21:26:25

Abra1d, the irony of that is that there are no state funded Catholic schools in Poland. Not sure about Sri Lanka or Africa, but as I said the other day, the OECD looked at 32 countries and found only 4 that apply religious selection in schools: England, Estonia, Ireland and Israel.

Nobody is saying that Catholic schools aren't diverse in the nationalities they attract. Its religious inclusion that's the issue. And in some areas social inclusion too.

LynetteScavo Fri 28-Jun-13 19:17:52

It is a shocking waste of time and petrol to drive children long distances so that they can attend a school of the faith of their parents choice.

It's certainly not a waste of time. Or petrol.(How much fuel would it take for me to fly somewhere sunny?)- that too could be seen as a waste) I will agree it's not the most environmentally friendly option. But if they hadn't closed down the Catholic school in my town.....

Abra1d Fri 07-Jun-13 12:46:14
Christianity is becoming a largely immigrant-led faith in Britain (think of the Polish Catholics and African evangelicals) so it amuses me that people thing faith schools are racist! Without the Indians and Poles in our RC church, there'd be hardly anyone there.

I missed this post earlier....but it is certainly true of one of my DCs schools! (Our local church is full of either Sri Lankans, Africans and old people - the Poles have their own mass in Polish.)

LizzyDay Fri 28-Jun-13 11:57:26

Londonbus - As a tax payer I believe that my children should be as entitled to a place in our LOCAL SCHOOLS as anyone else.

It is a shocking waste of time and petrol to drive children long distances so that they can attend a school of the faith of their parents choice.

And very very unfair for children to be displaced from their local schools by religious discrimination - and have to be driven miles away from their local community just to get a school place at all.

BayJay Thu 27-Jun-13 21:47:56

"I don't buy into the "I pay taxes, therefore my DC is just as entitled to a place at a Catholic school as anyone else --especially those Catholics who've never worked a day in their life and have six kids--" Obviously others on this thread disagree."

LondonBus, I haven't heard anyone say anything so obviously crass on this thread. A more accurate reflection of the general viewpoint of those supporting the Fair Admissions Campaign would be "I pay taxes, therefore my DC is just as entitled to a place at a local state-funded school as anyone else. If the school is a Catholic one, then that shouldn't prevent me accessing a place."

Beyond that people with different viewpoints might add one of the following...
"Of course, I'd only want a place if there were no other suitable local options"
"I'm a lapsed Catholic, and want to give my child the opportunity to discover her heritage"
"I'm Greek Orthodox, and would like my child to attend a Catholic school because they are similar traditions"
"I'm a committed Catholic who works shifts and can't attend church regularly. I don't want my child to miss out."
"I want my child to attend a Christian school, of whatever denomination"
"I want my child to go to their local school with their friends, and don't think religion should be a barrier to that."
"I'm an atheist, but I want my child to understand why other children believe in God, and to give her the chance to make her own mind up."
etc etc etc

The current system of faith schools was put in place by the 1944 education act when our society was very different to how it is today. Admissions policies need to catch up.

LondonBus Thu 27-Jun-13 20:39:39

But LondonBus, how do you define a 'committed Catholic family' objectively? Surely admissions policies shouldn't be making that sort of value judgement?

I agree. I certainly don't think getting your DC baptised 5 mins after birth means you are a more committed Catholic, than someone who genuinely converted when their child was 3yo.

I am very lucky that in my area there are very few Catholic families, and the two Catholic primaries can cater for them adequately, so there isn't the same issue that there is in lots of other areas of the country.

And if the Catholic child coming from 15 miles away displaces a local child, who has to travel 15 miles in the opposite direction to get any school place at all (never mind one they've 'chosen'), is that right? While there are state funded faith schools, yes I think it is.

I don't buy into the "I pay taxes, therefore my DC is just as entitled to a place at a Catholic school as anyone else --especially those Catholics who've never worked a day in their life and have six kids--" Obviously others on this thread disagree.

DownyEmerald Thu 27-Jun-13 11:58:08

The problem with faith based criteria is it can be used to skew the
admissions.

I live in a village. I want my child to go the village school. We're atheist, it's CofE, we'd rather it wasn't, but the community aspect outweighs that for us. Near us most of the villages have CofE schools and a couple of catholic.

People (generally naice middle-class types) in the nearest town, which has a primary geographically within a large estate, horrified at thought of their children going to nearest school, pick a village, go to the church for a couple of years, hey presto - get child into village school on the faith criteria. And then siblings. The schools round here are smaller than average and it's amazing the proportion of intake that can be siblings in a year.

People like me, who have no faith, and aren't prepared to invent one are then disadvantaged. I'm incredibly lucky, we moved to a house over the road from school before we thought about kids, so we were first once the looked after and faith criteria. Not everyone is so lucky.

If the middle-class kids in the town actually all went to their nearest school it would become a good mixed intake school they were happy to go to IYSWIM.

Something needs to break the existing system.

LizzyDay Wed 26-Jun-13 23:36:00

Londonbus - I'm sure there are lots of Catholic families who genuinely want a 'religiously appropriate' education for their child first and foremost.

But where do you draw the line? Should EVERY devoutly religious family in EVERY area have the same privilege? If you do the maths it just doesn't work.

edam Wed 26-Jun-13 23:27:22

LondonBus - that would be fine if Catholic schools were independent and funded entirely by the church, or by parishioners, or parents. But they aren't. They are paid for by taxpayers. So admissions should be open to the public - Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Can you imagine such a religious divide being permitted in other areas of state provision? 'Sorry, you can't come to St Xavier's hospital, even though it's your nearest, you aren't Catholic'? It would be seen as wrong and daft. So why do we let it happen with schools?

Many schools and hospitals were originally founded by the church - CofE or Catholic. St Bart's in London, for example. Today they are funded by the state and open to anyone who needs them - at least, hospitals are, the fact that schools are not is a glaring anomaly and deeply unfair.

I imagine if Catholic schools were open to everyone in the catchment - and beyond if there are spare places - they would still have more Catholic children because only a minority of non-Catholic parents are going to want a Catholic school anyway. But at least we'd all have the same chance. (FWIW, ds would be going to a Catholic school Over My Dead Body, much as it would pain my Grandmother to hear me say it.)

BayJay Wed 26-Jun-13 23:22:22

wonderingagain - is it based on this? If so, the adjudicator ruled that the policy was breaching the code.

BayJay Wed 26-Jun-13 23:19:07

wonderingagain - I don't think they can specify nurseries as feeder schools - where does it say that in the code? The quote I included above clearly says 'primary or middle school'. It doesn't say 'and free schools can name nurseries too'. Do you know of a specific school that does that? Would be good to know what you're basing the claim on.

wonderingagain Wed 26-Jun-13 23:09:24

Bayjay it's really not the same at all. They can select feeder schools, right down to nurseries.

BayJay Wed 26-Jun-13 23:03:06

Wonderingagain, the only difference in the Admissions Code for Free Schools is that they can prioritise founders' children if they want to. Everything else is the same.

One good thing about the new Admissions Code is that it relaxed the restrictions on who can appeal against Admissions Policies. It used to be that only people directly affected by the policies (i.e. prospective parents) could appeal. Now anyone can do it, and a good thing too, as the various campaign groups will no doubt iron out any wobbles where schools (free or otherwise) try to push the boundaries.

BayJay Wed 26-Jun-13 22:52:20

"I think children from committed Catholic families should be offered a place at a Catholic school over a child whose parents want them to go to that school because it's "outstanding""

But LondonBus, how do you define a 'committed Catholic family' objectively? Surely admissions policies shouldn't be making that sort of value judgement? How does a chaotic Catholic family, with low church attendance, compete for those Outstanding places when the school becomes over-subscibed with people who are only going to church because they want to get their child into an Outstanding school? And if the Catholic child coming from 15 miles away displaces a local child, who has to travel 15 miles in the opposite direction to get any school place at all (never mind one they've 'chosen'), is that right?

There are a lot of people who are sad because they can't get into their preferred choice of school. Hopefully you accept that the status-quo puts you in a privileged position over others, and that the Fair Admissions Campaign is simply arguing for equality?

wonderingagain Wed 26-Jun-13 22:46:15

Rural areas have feeder schools but I guess that's for planning and school bussing purposes and understandable?

Free primary schools can select nursery feeder schools (though not independent nurseries).

Free secondary schools can select free primary schools.

Free 6th form can select by ability.

This kind of system allows no room for movement - places will be filled by people in the know and their mates very quickly.

BayJay Wed 26-Jun-13 22:03:00

wonderingagain, I meant that SEN inclusion was off-topic, not free schools.

Muminlondon is right that any type of school (not just free schools or other types of academy) can name feeder primaries in their admissions policy. The admissions code says "1.15 Admission authorities may wish to name a primary or middle school as a feeder school. The selection of a feeder school or schools as an oversubscription criterion must be transparent and made on reasonable grounds."

muminlondon Wed 26-Jun-13 21:10:45

It does depend how religiously selective those feeder schools are, and then how local, of course.

muminlondon Wed 26-Jun-13 21:04:19

wonderingagain do you mean academies generally (which includes free schools)? In which case, yes, one local group linked to the fair admissions campaign is protesting against the adoption of faith feeder schools by Tudor Grange, a converter academy, which they suspect may lead to discrimination against local children. Having said that, there was a community school near me which had an admissions policy which ended up looking suspiciously similar (e.g. predominantly CofE feeder schools -discriminating against Catholic and other just-as-local children) but it took the council a long time and much debate to review it.

wonderingagain Wed 26-Jun-13 20:09:44

Bayjay, Free Schools are entirely relevant to this thread, as they add a further lever to segregated education - whether religious or otherwise.

They have to be inclusive by LAW in the same way that all schools have to. If the LEA SEN department thinks my child should go to Eton, Eton would not be able to prevent that.

The big difference is that secondary free schools can adopt feeder primary schools. This is a huge change in policy in London and will make things even more segregated here.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 26-Jun-13 19:53:17

>Can you imagine someone saying "I live next door to the grammar school and my child was only one point less in the 11+ than someone who lives 50 miles away, so really my child should have a place?"

But that's pretty much what does happen in a lot of places - often there's a GS catchment, pass the exam and you're in, and then people who live outside it may be offered any residual places - which means getting significantly higher scores than the pass mark. We live outside GS catchment and that seems entirely reasonable to me.

Quite a few CofE schools (not all, unfortunately) have children living in the parish prioritized ahead of churchgoers from outside of the parish.

LondonBus Wed 26-Jun-13 18:59:25

I think things would be a whole lot easier regarding choosing schools if there were no faith schools and no grammar schools.

But seeing as there are faith schools, I think children from committed Catholic families should be offered a place at a Catholic school over a child whose parents want them to go to that school because it's "outstanding". Funny how the very same parents suddenly don't want their children at that same school when OFSTED say it' "requires improvement." The families who stick with the school are the ones who are there because of their faith.

My nearest Catholic high school is 15 miles away. It's not "outstanding", or even "good", but I want my DC to go there, over the much nearer "outstanding" and "good" schools because I want them to go to a Catholic school. I think if I couldn't get my DC in, because all the local non Catholic DC were offered a place I would be very sad and [hmm.

Can you imagine someone saying "I live next door to the grammar school and my child was only one point less in the 11+ than someone who lives 50 miles away, so really my child should have a place?"

BayJay Wed 26-Jun-13 18:42:31

"This hard work is now being completely unravelled by the introduction of free schools. "

It's not relevant to this thread, so almost let it pass, but actually free schools are bound by the admissions code, and must prioritise SEN children to the same extent as other schools.

However, let's not get distracted.

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