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

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

... on this

Farewelltoarms Thu 06-Jun-13 22:37:29

I completely agree, it's a shocker. If you look at FSM figures for popular/oversubscribed faith schools, they are a tiny proportion of those of community schools. Eg most secondaries in Hammersmith have between 40 and 60% FSM. The oratory and Sacred Heart - under 10%. It's indefensible.
However, as a concession I'd be open to 50% faith places and 50% open places as they have in some faith schools. I'd prefer no faith places, but I'm generous like that...

Farewelltoarms Thu 06-Jun-13 22:39:42

BTW I'd move this to education as I think the polarity is worse in secondary schools.

So you want no faith places in a faith school confused

sanam2010 Thu 06-Jun-13 22:48:41

Totally agree with this campaign! I have to fund all these church schools with my income tax and then I can't send my children there. It's extremely discriminatory and, to be honest, racist. In many London boroughs this system just separates white Christian children from other immigrant communities.

But as another poster I'd be okay with 50/50 faith and open places. It's about time they changed the system.

prh47bridge Fri 07-Jun-13 00:57:22

There are many Christian children in immigrant communities.

There is nothing stopping you from sending your children to these schools. You don't have to be a believer. You simply have to meet the church attendance requirement. You don't even have to take part in the service. You can sit there and read the Sunday paper if you like. It still counts.

You do not fully fund these schools although you do provide the majority of the funding. The proportion of funding they have to supply has gone down over the years but they still have to fund at least 10% of any capital costs and insure the buildings.

The land and buildings for these schools belongs to the church (indirectly). If faith schools were not allowed to give any priority to children of the faith they could, in my view, legitimately ask why the government is not fully funding them and why the government isn't buying the land and buildings.

prh47bridge Fri 07-Jun-13 01:02:25

Oh, and even if you don't meet the church attendance requirement you aren't necessarily barred from the school. If there are still places left after all those meeting the faith criteria have been admitted they will be offered to other applicants. The reason many faith schools never get that far is that so many people who are non-believers attend church just to get their child in.

I should also add that not all faith schools are Christian. The majority are CofE or Catholic but there are also Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh faith schools.

Parietal Fri 07-Jun-13 01:05:37

Strongly agree admissions should not be based on faith. Could have some %, say 30%, faith based but not over 50%. If church contributes 10% of money, church can have a say in 10% of places.

ijustwant8hours Fri 07-Jun-13 08:15:33

The conclusion I came to was that, imperfect as it is, as a practical matter for a low income parent like me it was possible to meet the church attendence requirement - but I wouldn't have been able to move house near the school. There isn't an easy totally fair answer I don't think.

sanam2010 Fri 07-Jun-13 09:09:00

Prh47bridge, I don't know where you live but faith schools in my London borough do not only have an attendance requirement but also want to see baptism certificates. And they are all Catholic or Church of England. Even if I am protestant from another European country, I will come behind any CofE England applicant so it is impossible to get into a good faith school (of course on get get into horrible faith schools).

A friend of mine started attending Mass to get her children into Catholic school and the first thing the priest did was to write a letter to all parents asking them to appeal to their MP to block gay marriage. This is the reality.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 07-Jun-13 09:29:28

We should be getting rid of the whole lot of them,we are a multi faith society and given that I am a tax payer I should be able to send my dc to any school I choose.

notcitrus Fri 07-Jun-13 09:39:22

Great idea. I agree though that the fact that churches still own the land and provide significant funding (a new building will be about £10M. So £1 million quid to come from the church) will be a problem. Possibly start by encouraging all church schools to prioritise children who have attended any church, not just St Leafy's in the posh area of town that isn't welcoming to many - which would at least improve the social mix slightly, if only to parents who are organised enough to attend a church fortnightly for two years before applying for their child's place.

And once they realise the sky hasn't fallen in, encourage them to introduce some places open to all, so they better represent their local community.

I believe the few schools of other religions are rarely oversubscribed, but same would apply. Someone pointed out the other day that Jewish schools have practical benefits for pupils being able to provide kosher cooked food and ensure the school day ends so pupils can get home by bus etc before sunset in winter, but there's no reason other schools couldn't support packed lunches or buy in boxed meals, and tweak their Friday timetable, if necessary.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 07-Jun-13 09:49:37

There is no place for faith schools in British society and there shouldn't be a single penny of tax payers money spent on them.

If you want a faith school you fund it.

The nearest 2 schools to us are CofE yet hardly any of the local kids are religious sooooo we have to tolerate a religion we don't believe in if we want our kids to attend their local community school oh and fund it!

We should be encouraging all faiths to mix,segregating children in the basis of religion is wrong.

But why do you want your child to attend a faith school?

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 07-Jun-13 09:54:02

Because I want my kids to go to their local school which is in their community and town with the children they have grown up with from birth.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 07-Jun-13 09:55:34

I positively don't want my kids going to a faith school but we have no choice.

Community is far more important to me than any faith.

I didn't realise CofE schools did this. Thought it was just them Catholics. I got my DD into a local school with no questions asked.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 07-Jun-13 09:58:01

Oh and our school is not that great( satisfactory), it's a myth that a church school automatically = an Outstanding school.

Far too much time spent on religion and not enough on the basics but if you want your kids on grow up as part if a community you have to tolerate it- it's so wrong!

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 07-Jun-13 09:59:37

Ours takes anybody but my point is this campaign needs to acknowledge how wrong faith schools are.It's not just admissions in some that is wrong but the whole concept.

Desiren Fri 07-Jun-13 10:30:02

I think faiths schools have a place and my children have all attended faith schools I do not attend church but my oldest DD's father attended church not CofE and she was still accepted it was over subscribed but it. Criteria is more about involvement then attendance

prh47bridge Fri 07-Jun-13 10:35:01

For posters who are not aware of this, some faith schools already limit the number of places awarded on faith criteria. New faith schools cannot award more than 50% of places on faith criteria.

sanam2010 - A requirement for baptism certificates is not unusual in RC schools but it is very unusual in CofE schools. I don't remember seeing such a requirement even in London. And the fact the priest writes to you asking you to appeal to MPs about something the church is against is not surprising nor is there any requirement for you to take any notice. See also my reply to notcitrus below regarding your comment about protestants from other European countries.

notcitrus - Through assisting people with appeals I get to see the admission criteria for a lot of schools from all over England. From what I have seen I believe that most CofE schools give priority to anyone attending any church that is part of Churches Together - that covers pretty much all Christian churches in England. Quite a few, possibly most, CofE schools give such families equal priority with families attending CofE churches. Families attending non-CofE churches and living within the parish often have priority over families attending CofE churches but living outside the parish. It is unusual to specify one particular CofE church as the only one that gives priority. Some CofE schools also give priority to children of other faiths. Again, a family living within the school's parish and worshipping in a non-Christian faith may take priority over CofE children living outside the parish.

prh47bridge Fri 07-Jun-13 10:40:19

Just for clarity, a faith school cannot simply refuse to admit children who are not of the faith. They can use faith-based criteria to give priority but if there are insufficient children meeting the faith-based criteria they must admit children who don't meet those criteria. That is the law.

PostBellumBugsy Fri 07-Jun-13 10:50:03

I do not think the state should fund faith schools. All state schools should be non-denominational. The state is there to provide a fair framework of education for all children & should not favour those of any particular faith.

If parents want their children to have faith based education, then they can set up after school clubs, saturday clubs or summer camps.

titchy Fri 07-Jun-13 11:02:41

Please don't use the 'my taxes pay for this and I can't access it' argument - it totally undermines what you are trying to say. You don't get o pick and choose what your taxes pay, other than very notionally when you vote. I can't access elderly case support but don't moan about my taxes paying for them.

What we should IMO be arguing is for the UK to be a secular state. It is not, and damn well should be. Turkey and the USA, constitutionally at least, are secular and if they can manage that so can we!

PostBellumBugsy Fri 07-Jun-13 11:10:02

titchy, there is some point to that argument about tax though. We pay taxes to have all children educated & some children are denied access to their nearest school because they are the wrong faith or not of any faith. It is not based on income or means testing or anything like that - just pure religious discrimination. I don't use the NHS very much, because I enjoy good health, but at least I know that when I do need to use it, I can go to my local GP, local hospital and they won't turn me away because I'm not CofE!

Completely agree with your argument on secular state though.

AryaUnderfoot Fri 07-Jun-13 11:15:02

prh47bridge our local, very oversubscribed, CofE school most definitely prioritises membership of Anglican Church. After CLA, Statemented students and siblings, the school prioritises families where the applicant is on the electoral roll of an Anglican Church within the Deanery. Points are awarded based on the length of time on the electoral role. Membership of other churches is way down on the criteria.

Strix Fri 07-Jun-13 11:26:39

I think the state is not entitled but obligated to fund the state relieon (Church of England). I don't mind others also being funded.

I am opposed to selecting school admission on one's wealth. Big houses near good schools mean rich gets get all the good school places. And i find this system far more discrimitory that one that allows SOME of the school places to go to regigeous community rather than a geographical one.

Freedon of religeon should include the choice to have a religion, and not just the choice to refuse all religions. There are plenty of non-fath schools to choose from as well. If faith based schools were the only ones around I could better understand the opposition.

Let's just keep the poor buggers down by refusing them entry to the good schools because they will never be able to afford the house they need to get into it. Talk about furthering social divide!

PostBellumBugsy Fri 07-Jun-13 11:35:52

Is the Church of England the UK's state religion though Strix? I thought it was just the established church. I know it has representatives in parliament, but I wasn't sure we had a "state religion" as such here in the UK.
Have to confess I am not 100% sure of this, but I'm not sure that we do, in which case there should be no obligation by the "state" to fund CofE schools.

PostBellumBugsy Fri 07-Jun-13 11:38:55

In fact, I think the Church of England, is only the established church of England & not of Scotland, NI or Wales - so that seems even more at odds with an obligation to fund CofE schools.
I know the Monarch of the day has to agree to uphold the faith etc, but I don't think the Government of the day has to agree to that?

titchy Fri 07-Jun-13 11:43:20

Postbellum - no there isn't an argument at all. You pay taxes to have your child educated, and educated they will be. Just not at the school over the road, but the one a few roads away.

In England (not sure about the rest of the UK to be fair) Church of England IS the official faith. The Government govern on behalf of the queen who is the head of the church of England.

SoupDragon Fri 07-Jun-13 11:49:33

a faith school cannot simply refuse to admit children who are not of the faith. They can use faith-based criteria to give priority but if there are insufficient children meeting the faith-based criteria they must admit children who don't meet those criteria. That is the law.

The point is that in most cases (the vast majority of cases in this area) non-faith children have zero chance of getting a place. Whilst technically lawful, they never have to admit children who are not of the right faith.

I agree with if you want a faith based school you should pay for it.

afussyphase Fri 07-Jun-13 11:49:56

I think the current system is discriminatory, unfair, unnecessary and divisive. I fully support the campaign. If people want their children educated in any specific faith, they should make arrangements privately or simply live their lives of faith at home and at their church or temple. State funded services -- schools, hospitals, GPs, roads, transportation -- should NOT be selective on faith grounds. And it doesn't matter that not ALL C of E or Catholic or other faith schools are "better" - the current system gives reduced access to school places to some children, unfairly.

KevinFoley Fri 07-Jun-13 11:50:39

We have one secondary school in the area with good facilities (only one with a sixth form, has a swimming pool, tennis, drama, outstanding Ofsted), everything else is really crap by comparison. Hardly any local children can go there because of the 7 years church attendance required, it sticks in my craw to be honest.

AryaUnderfoot Fri 07-Jun-13 12:02:44

Personally, I think faith schools are a bit of a distraction from the real issues to do with education.

Why do people get upset about faith schools? Really simple - they feel that they offer a 'better' standard of education to a select few that are 'selected' unfairly. They wouldn't be upset about this if every child had access to good education.

Allocation on faith grounds is no different, in reality, to selection on grounds of postcode or ability. These systems all allow the educated middle classes to engineer their children into good schools.

What everyone should be focussing on is ensuring no child is subjected to a 'second rate' education.

Unforutunately, the current levels of state funding for education ensure that this is never going to be feasible.

I have a choice - pay for private (15k plus per year), move to a 'better' postcode for approximately 150k for the same house, ensure I attend church and 'tick the appropriate boxes' or send my children to the local dire comp and take my chances.

PostBellumBugsy Fri 07-Jun-13 12:44:07

titchy, without wishing to derail the debate, the Government are elected to govern by the electorate & go through the constitutional motion of being formally asked to form that Government by the Queen. The Government do not govern on behalf of the Queen - they govern to their manifesto on which they were voted into power.

So, I still don't think we have a "state regligion" and therefore think that Government has no obligation to fund state religious schools. Also, even if your argument held, why is the Government funding state schools of other faiths, such as RC or Jewish schools?

Arya, faith schools are more than just a distraction and even if all the schools in the country were amazing & provided 1st class education, I would still think it was wrong for the state to fund faith schools in a largely secular society. Faith should not be a matter for the state, it should be a family matter.

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.

Racist my foot.

Where are you kevin? There is one of those in my locale.

I can understand the grievance of people whose children cannot get into their nearest best school, but there must e a reason why faith schools and those in middle class areas are more desirable?

prh47bridge Fri 07-Jun-13 13:02:34

AryaUnderfoot - That doesn't take away from my point that many CofE churches give other denominations priority and some also give other faiths priority. By the way, I sincerely hope they don't put statemented children after looked after children. Statemented children come first. Strictly they shouldn't even be on the list as, unlike other categories, statemented children are always admitted even if there are no places available.

SoupDragon - I made the comment because some people appeared to think that a faith school could refuse to admit children who were not of the faith. I know that in many areas there are so many parents attending church to get their child into the local faith school that no-one else stands a chance.

People think faith schools are more religious than non-faith schools. That is often not the case. Many faith schools are no more religious than the local community schools. Indeed, in some cases the community school is more religious than the faith schools.

As for why they are popular, people think they are better than community schools. As has been pointed out on other threads by someone else (can't remember who - sorry) this is largely because they effectively select on parental engagement - the parents are sufficiently concerned about their child's education to attend church regularly in order to get a place. If there was a school that gave priority to children of parents who could juggle you would see a similar effect.

AryaUnderfoot Fri 07-Jun-13 13:10:24

Single sex schools discriminate. Under any other circumstances, discrimination on the grounds of sex would be illegal (apart from some very specific cases).

A parent of four boys would have absolutely bog all chance of getting into their local 'outstanding' school if it happened to be only for girls.

In that case, you couldn't have any hope of getting in based on any 'if the school is not oversubscribed....' criteria. Plus, you couldn't even 'play the game' and pretend to be of the right sex.

FWIW, I don't actually think church schools should be able to select based on faith criteria.

I do, however, strongly believe that the real issue is the inequality in access to good state funded services at all levels.

Letsgetreal Fri 07-Jun-13 13:15:24

Surely the argument is whether a state school can apply ANY additional criteria to its admissions policy?

Faith is just one of many criteria that gives one child priority over another, and so if we are arguing that faith should not be allowed then surely any other criteria shouldnt be either, whether its academic ability, is the child in care, do they have a sibling, are their parents governors/teachers at the school etc.

If you get rid of one, you have to get rid of them all as they are all artificial criteria.

And then you would left with distance from the school, which again will be played by those that can afford it.......

I agree with a previous poster - we shouldnt abolish faith schools but ask what makes them better or at least perceived to be better and apply those principals to ALL schools.

Certainly by me the 'best' primaries are all faith schools. Is it because the church keeps a watch over their standards, because the parents of that religion are likely to be more encouraging and involved in their childs education, or is to just luck?

AryaUnderfoot Fri 07-Jun-13 13:17:26

prh47bridge children with a statement do not appear in any admission category as, as you say, they are always admitted. The highest actual admissions category is CLA.

I am sure there are many CofE schools that give equal admission preference to children from other churches/faiths, but there are few in our area that do.

As schools in our area have become increasingly oversubscribed in recent years, fewer and fewer children have gained places at faith schools at both primary and secondary levels without some 'faith' criteria.

PostBellumBugsy Fri 07-Jun-13 13:23:13

Arya, agree with you on single sex schools too but there are far fewer single sex state schools than faith schools. There are less than 400 single sex state schools & over 7000 state faith schools - about 35% of all schools. Figures for England only.

PastSellByDate Fri 07-Jun-13 13:27:48

I don't know how all faith-based schools work, but our primary is clearly linked to one particular church now; however, earlier it was linked to a more new-age establishment (one fond of Alpha courses) although the governors (rather daringly for our school) have now changed the admissions rules to limited to attendence of the faith school's namesake church.

My criticism isn't so much blocking certain members of the church, etc... from the associated group - but that on the basis of generally being of that faith - they end up driving across town to our school, which ends up with grid lock in the school run & pick-up periods in the area.

I think schools should be local.

You should understand if you live on street x - this is your school.

I hate to say it - but parental choice is a lovely concept - but the reality is that because it isn't straightforward and there are no guarantees it's highly nerve-racking.

There are too many neighbours walking 1.5 miles to the next school quite simply because they aren't particularly religioius or are of a different faith.

I think we need to remember that faith schools were formed out of a desire to improve education of local children (then broadly all of a similar faith) but the reality now is that faith schools (at least in large cities) are in highly multicultural areas. Having a school which excludes the residents probably isn't a good idea politically given they exist through taxpayer funding.

ReallyTired Fri 07-Jun-13 13:30:16

"By the way, I sincerely hope they don't put statemented children after looked after children. Statemented children come first."


There are so few "looked after children" I think its academic if they are given priority over statemented children. Infact a huge proportion of looked after children are statemented. Sometimes looked after children need a particular school to be physically safe as well as having their needs met. For most statemented children there is more than one school in the area that can meet their needs.

I find it dispictable that many catholic schools put impossible conditions on looked after children. (Ie. only giving priority to looked after chidlren who have been baptised before 12 months) It is nothing more than social exclusion.

I suspect that Jesus would have been very anti faith schools. He mixed with the down and outs who would not be welcome at Catholic school.

prh47bridge Fri 07-Jun-13 13:32:53

A little over one third of faith schools are Voluntary Controlled which means the admission criteria are set by the LA. In most cases they use the same admission criteria as local community schools, although I know some LAs do include faith-based criteria for VC schools.

There's nothing stopping you going to a faith school, just go to bloody church. Oh hang on, no, you don't want to do that bit do you? Faith schools are all about community. You want the good stuff without contributing anything (not f-ing taxes) to that community. In fact, if you did get it you'd be on here whining about your child having to say prayers.

And we do pay our taxes too. And we pay a separate fund. And we pay to the church and the church pays. And the church owns the land and paid a huge amount towards the building of the school in the first place. But that's ok, you just rock up...

prh47bridge Fri 07-Jun-13 13:47:55

ReallyTired - It is very important that children with a statement of SEN naming the school go ahead of looked after children. That is the law.

Do you have a source for your statement that a huge proportion of looked after children are statemented? I can't find any statistics to support that at the moment. Even if it were true it isn't really relevant. There are roughly ten times as many children with statements of SEN as there are looked after children.

Any school that only puts conditions on looked after children must have more than one admission category for such children. So in your example the next category (or categories) will be non-looked after children who were baptised within 12 months of birth and the next category will be looked after children who were not baptised within 12 months of birth - they will come ahead of any other children who were not baptised within 12 months of birth. I'm not saying I approve of this - I don't.

By the way, Catholic Canon Law requires a child to be baptised "within the first few weeks".

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 07-Jun-13 13:55:10

Many of us don't want to rock up,we don't want the church to have anything to do with our local primary school.

Given how few people are Christians or go to church anymore sorry church goers as tax payers is a ridiculous argument.

I also dispute church being community,the most snobbery I've ever experienced is from the few minority church goers who think they're pillars of the community and above everybody else.

Communities don't need religion to be communities in fact I'd go as far as saying religion has quite a negative impact on communities.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 07-Jun-13 13:58:51

And yes it does piss me off my kids having to listen to the utter baloney spouted off in endless assemblies and praying.

"Good stuff" what might that be? I've yet to see one positive aspect of my dc attending a church school only plenty of negative.

<holdsGwen's coat>

ReallyTired Fri 07-Jun-13 14:15:47


I completely disagree with you. The academic achievement of many LAC children is dire. (Ie. only 14% of LAC children get 5 good GCSEs) There may well be LAC children who aren't statemented because they have been so badly let down in the past. Ofcourse there are some LAC children who do really well at school, but they are the exception rather than the norm.

Getting a statement these days often requires a sharp elbowed and determined middle class parent. Sadly children in local authority care are not that lucky.

"Most have some kind of special need whether it is educational, emotional, social or behavioural. They do not have loving parents to fight for them. "

I know a very bright girl who is in long term foster care. She has special needs even though she is doing well academically. She has been to hell and back and emotionally needs support.

Does it really require a web link to show that every LAC child has been unlucky. If life had been perfect for a LAC child then they would not be in care.

prh47bridge Why does it bother you if a LAC child is top of the list? Statemented children will still get their place.

PostBellumBugsy Fri 07-Jun-13 14:18:48

Gwendoline - even if you do go to church that is no guarantee you'll get into the school. I live in the very populated SE of England & despite going to church every Sunday for 4 years, my DS didn't get in to the school because there were 26 siblings in the year he applied, meaning only 4 places available for non-siblings & there were 4 other church attenders who lived closer to the school than we did. We lived less than one mile from the school and of the 4 local primaries to us, it was the 2nd closest. The nearest was also a faith school, but a different denomination to ours, so we didn't stand a hope of getting into that one.

For the local faith secondary school, it is not enough just to go to church every Sunday you have to be on the Anglican electoral role to stand any kind of a chance of getting in!!!!!!

There are also areas, were the only local school is a faith school meaning that even though you are of a different faith or have no specific faith, your child has to go to a faith school. That is not right either. Faith is a personal or family matter - it is not something that the state should promote or pay for.

I have long since stopped practising any kind of faith, but all those examples just highlight to me how absurd it is that the State makes provision for this kind of exclusion, when it should be about fair access for all children.

prh47bridge Fri 07-Jun-13 14:20:14

All schools are required by law to have a daily assembly of a broadly Christian nature. Many schools, including faith schools, ignore this. But it is quite possible that the "endless assemblies and praying" that you complain about would also happen in the local community schools.

Given how few people are Christians

According to the British Social Attitudes survey around 45% of the population consider themselves Christian (that's actually lower than the census which came up with a figure of 59%). You are on stronger ground regarding Church attendance - only around 6% attend regularly although over double that regard themselves as practising Christians.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 07-Jun-13 14:23:07

People put CofE down out of habit.

CouthyMow Fri 07-Jun-13 14:25:27

Titchy - in some areas, there is ONE village school, which is CofE. And often, the nearest community school is 15+ miles away in the nearest town.

And these schools often give priority to those worshipping in the local CofE church, then to those of other faiths, then and only then, IF there are any places left, they will be opened up to others in the community. Often the school in the next village is the same, too.

Not everybody lives in an area where there is more than one school, or a community school anywhere remotely close by.
You are obviously only thinking about London.

prh47bridge Fri 07-Jun-13 14:25:42

ReallyTired - I'm not sure what you disagree with.

I did not say that LAC children do well at school. I asked for justification for your statement that a huge proportion of them are statemented. You have not provided anything to support that statement. I can provide sources to show that LAC children are heavily outnumbered by statemented children.

And your last two paragraphs really don't make sense. First you say that LAC children have been unlucky which is clearly true. Then you go on to ask why it is important to me that LAC children are top of the list. To state the obvious, because they've been unlucky and this goes some small way to redress the balance.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 07-Jun-13 14:28:26

Prh I'm sure there would be collective worship but I'm suspecting it wouldn't be CoE,bible biased.I'm suspecting there would be less praying, less utterly tedious sermons from the local vicar(which my dc sre training themselves to tune out of)and more quiet reflection.

I suspect children will have a balanced and equal amount of time spent on all religions as opposed to a CofE bias.

ReallyTired Fri 07-Jun-13 14:32:00

Would Jesus have wanted faith schools? Surely faith schools should love their neighbours and allow them to attend their nearest school.

love your neighbour as yourself

Incidently my family has excellent church attendence but we have chosen to send our children to community schools. Our community primary school was until recently more religious than any faith school.

CouthyMow Fri 07-Jun-13 14:38:45

Blueskies - I wouldn't count on that. My DC's currently attend a Community School, and the local vicar comes and does sermons assemblies on a very regular basis.

My DS1 upset the HT when, in one assembly, they were asked if they had any questions, and my DS1 asked why, if they were taught to only believe what they had proof of in science, and that anything else was a hypothesis, why should he believe in God without any proof..."

He also asked why the school explained to them in science that the universe was created during the Big Bang, yet then invited in the local vicar to preach about how God created the world, and did the HT not see that as a little confusing and contradictory for the DC's...

My DS1 is a git when it comes to religion. His description of religion? Something dreamed up by man to explain scientific phenomena before science had caught up and found the real reason, it's just a construct to allow people who didn't have scientific answers to their questions to feel a bit if peace, it's no different to having an imaginary friend"


PostBellumBugsy Fri 07-Jun-13 14:40:30

arf @ ReallyTired loving thy neighbour! grin

ReallyTired Fri 07-Jun-13 14:41:23

I can give you some sats for West Sussex.

"The proportion of LAC in West
Sussex who have a statement of special educational
needs has fluctuated between 30 and 40%, and has
consistently been higher than the national figure.
In the last eight years the proportion of LAC
achieving five A*-G GCSE grades has also fluctuated
between 30 and 50%, whereas the proportion of all
children in West Sussex achieving the same has
consistently been above 90"

see page 5

I am not sure what the national figure is for the proportion of LAC children nationally who are statemented. Anedotely the special school I used to work at had a lot of LAC children.

tethersend Fri 07-Jun-13 14:44:37

ReallyTired, I am an advisory teacher for LAC, so I certainly appreciate your point- however, prh47 is simply pointing out the letter of the law, which is that statemented children get first priority.

In practice, I have never known a school to be full of statemented children, so the children I work with can obtain a place at any non-faith school we choose. The fact that statemented children get first priority (or have a school named on their statement) is academic, as it does not affect a Looked After Child obtaining a place.

As far as faith schools go, I would like to see them forced to waive the faith-based entry requirements for LAC, whose early childhood is often chaotic (ruling out baptism) and frequent placement moves can mean that a sustained period of attendance at a particular church is impossible.

But then I would like to see faith schools abolished, full stop.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 07-Jun-13 14:47:35

Couthy we had that assembly,the amount of parents shaking their heads and raising eyebrows really makes my blood boil.Why do we have to put up with this shite?

I'm particularly annoyed that as unmarried parents my kids have to go to a school which believes they(and a large number of other kids) shouldn't exist.

The year 2 mock wedding my dc had to take part in was the lowest point- wrong!

Oh and the funniest thing.After our shite Ofsted the church sent it's own team to do their own inspection which they rated Outstanding.Guess which report is all over the school website?Isn't dishonesty wrong,even for Christians?

mrsshackleton Fri 07-Jun-13 15:41:24

Completely agree, faith schools are a shocking, divisive anachronism that are allowed to exist because politicians send their dcs to them and then play the "my child is state educated card."

Strix Fri 07-Jun-13 15:48:35

Jesus did preach love your neighbour and did not preach exclusion. Speaking of which, he absolutely did not say anything about excluding the neighbor's neighbor. So let's talk about "community". I don't think my faith school / community should have rigid geographical boundaries. That seems unchristian and is seems discriminitory on the basis of class.

At least with some faith schools and some "community" schools we have a balance of selection criteria, which on the whole makes our opportunity for a better education fairer across the board.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 07-Jun-13 15:56:22

But many areas only have church schools.

My community only has a church school.It is my community,the church doesn't own it.

Also wondering what church schools have done in a positive way for communities in say Northern Ireland.

prh47bridge Fri 07-Jun-13 17:42:50

Blueskiesandbuttercups - I should introduce you to one of the community schools near me. Lots of praying (more so than in any of the local faith schools) and plenty of sermons from the local vicar or other ministers. No idea whether or not they are tedious, though.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 07-Jun-13 17:46:24

I've taught in several non church schools that have a very balanced approach.

WouldBeHarrietVane Fri 07-Jun-13 17:54:58

I would prefer no faith places at all.

tiggytape Fri 07-Jun-13 18:00:29

People in general (or perhaps more so on MN) seem to be very anti faith schools and very anti faith in schools.
However our whole education-for-all system in this country comes entirely from the church - when state schools followed years later, they just filled in gaps in an area the church already had covered. That is why the situation is as it is - successive governments haven't built many / enough alternative schools.

Most people care about the issue when they cannot get into these schools should they choose to or when they have no other local option.
It is very hard if your nearest school is a faith school, you don't qualify on faith grounds and your next nearest school selects on distance but you are too far away.
However there are a lot of problems like this in the admissions system right now - some people don't live close enough to any school at all to get a place, some schools fill up entirely from siblings so nobody else can get in, some people live close to a boys' school but not an equivalent girls' one or near to a good secondary but not in catchment for any primary.

There are a lot of problems mainly because there are insufficient school places overall.
In many areas that has caused a huge scramble and a huge headache for parents. So these church schools that were never so hugely oversubscribed in lower birthrate years that they couldn’t take non-faith children or were ignored in favour of other local options are suddenly in the firing line because they represent yet another closed door for many parents. But in fact these parents are equally ousted from non faith schools because of the increased birth rate, huge number of siblings applying and 300m catchment areas that are now seen. The solution is school expansion across all schools until a surplus exists again to give back some local choice to parents or (at the very least) there are enough school places for one per child in each area.

Until then any admissions system is unfair on somebody because, when places are short some children will be forced to travel miles to attend school whether they get turned down due to the sibling rule, faith rule or any other criteria.

AryaUnderfoot Fri 07-Jun-13 18:13:11

Totally agree on most points, tiggytape.

I would say, however, that I think MN is far more 'anti' faith schools than the population as a whole.

In my (limited) experience, the vast majority are totally ambivalent towards faith schools unless their children don't have any access to 'good' or 'local' schools themselves.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 07-Jun-13 18:16:29

I think ambivalence is being confused with resignation,if you have no choice or anybody to do anything about it you poke up with it.

AryaUnderfoot Fri 07-Jun-13 18:40:04

I am not confusing ambivalence with resignation.

DS' school (about 350 on roll) has an intake which is enthically very representative of the population as a whole. In DS' class alone, there is a JW, several HIndus and several Muslims, as well as Christians and children whose parents have no faith.

The school has an assembly, once per week, which is most definitely Christian in nature. This is a community school and not a faith school. No children in the school are currently withdrawn from collective worship.

That is what I mean by ambivalence. It would be resignation if the children couldn't be withdrawn.

Abra1d Fri 07-Jun-13 18:40:10

Lots of the Catholic schools I know were built by communities who were often very poor, sometimes barely literate themselves. They were not part of the Establishment, but enabled children to better themselves. Land was bought by the church (ie, the congregation) to build on. Attributes such as discipline and hard work were encouraged.

So why don't those who don't like faith schools come together and start their own schools? It's never been a better time, what with Academy status being available n'all. If a community of barely literate Irish builders and their families could do it 150 years ago, why can't C21st media savvy, generally better off and very literate middle-class people do this?

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 07-Jun-13 19:06:38

Agra not all church schools are like that.

And re starting up your own errr most of us work and pay taxes to have our kids educated.Why should we have to start up our own.hmm

And don't get me started on free schools which are a complete mismanagement of funds and resources.

JassyRadlett Fri 07-Jun-13 19:34:24

I just want my kid to be able to go to one of his local schools, but all are so massively oversubscribed that he doesn't really have a monkey's. the two nearest to us are faith schools, one with a 50% non-faith intake but last year after siblings and churchgoing children there was zero children accepted on distance alone.

The other is very similar.

Further away schools all have a tiny catchment, we haven't got a chance. A friend has just been offered a place at a school 6 miles away. In suburban London. That's how faith schools distort communities and catchments.

I grew up in Australia. I still find the idea that the state funds faith schools and is allowed to select on that basis quite bizarre. I know it's a legacy of decisions made when compulsory education was introduced, but it's still abhorrent to me. Where I grew up, if you wanted a religious education you paid for it.

And the answer is?

JassyRadlett Fri 07-Jun-13 21:49:05

Well, I'd like to see all state-funded schools have the same admissions criteria, and I'd like there to be no faith schools. I know I won't get that, though I think it's a pity faith schools weren't nationalised at the same time as the health service.

But the impact on communities - particularly crowded communities where it is difficult to maintain a sense of community - shouldn't be underestimated, and needs to be addressed.

I'm quite attracted by the 'let the faith schools have a percentage of places based on the amount of annual funding they put in.

Yes, I hear the argument that good non-faith schools have people 'buying' their way in by buying homes in guaranteed catchment at an inflated price. Trust me, I get it, I couldn't afford that option.

But neither am I willing to buy my way in by means of hypocritical churchgoing, which is what a lot of people do and is openly tolerated by the church.

I also quite like the entry-by-lottery to oversubscribed schools within a catchment that you see in some parts of the US. Helps with the buying-a-place argument.

idiuntno57 Fri 07-Jun-13 22:02:04

my kids go to an outstanding faith based primary. All the kids go to church every week. All the parents are engaged in the church. This translates to school. Schools with committed families have committed pupils. This translates to attainment.

Ban faith based schools if you like but the value of engaged parents us unquantified yet obvious and this is what faith schools get.

racmun Fri 07-Jun-13 22:16:26

The secular society and British Hunanist society campaign against faith schools.

One of the major major problems in this country is the integration of different faiths with each other- how does that happen if you have faith selective schools.

They should all be scrapped

AryaUnderfoot Fri 07-Jun-13 22:23:57

racmun I take it you mean humanist rather than hunanist. I think hunanists would have a very different viewpoint...... wink

MaryKatharine Fri 07-Jun-13 22:27:03

We are practising Catholics. One of the reasons I pay for school is to ensure a secular education. Religion and especially religious instruction is for Church and home and has no place in school. Plus, it is very important to me that my DCs are educated alongside children from a range of different faiths.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Fri 07-Jun-13 22:33:11

Oh prh47bridge, I so wish I had rocked up to church with a Vanilla Latte and the Sunday papers.

AryaUnderfoot Fri 07-Jun-13 22:38:36

Mary we are practising Anglicans and always have been.

When I applied for primary school for DS I had the choice between my local 'just below average' community school or my not-so-local outstanding faith school. I chose to send DS to the community school for several reasons:

1) as a local school, I can walk there in less than one minute
2) DS could make friends that lived locally (something he couldn't do at nursery
3) DS could make friends that were from a different ethnic and religious background (his best friend is JW)

At secondary school, however, he is lucky enough to have the choice between the local outstanding faith school or the local sink comp (on notice to improve). This sink comp is crap in every way - results, value added, progress, you-name-it.

We can't, realistically, afford private education. Given the fact that we do fulfil the faith criteria, where would you send your child to school?

I would gladly send my children to a local comprehensive if it wasn't so absolutely and utterly awful. If it was merely average, I wouldn't mind. It isn't.

Principles are great for those who can afford them.

MaryKatharine Fri 07-Jun-13 22:49:13

Arya, absolutely, in your shoes I would opt for the faith secondary without a doubt. I know I'm lucky enough to have the choice. I would never sacrifice my children's education for my principles.

wonderingagain Fri 07-Jun-13 22:53:26

Why should children have to be taught within the context of a religion?

That's not even a question - there is absolutely no reason why they should.

Keep religion for saturdays and sundays please.

JassyRadlett Fri 07-Jun-13 22:57:29

Idiunt, I'd challenge the idea that only faith schools, or church communities, have engaged and committed parents.

It's great that your faith school hasn't attracted a lot of churchgoing-until-school-place-is-confirmed parents. Really, it is. But the idea that a lot of us who aren't of a particular faith aren't also likely to be committed parents is a little off; without the distorting effect of faith a schools I think you'd get a much better idea of those engagement impacts.

Because, invariably, the commitment of some parents leads them to fake faith for a school place. It happens, a lot. I'm not willing to, but that's me and I'll make it up to my kid in other ways. But meanwhile, my son has half the options when it comes to choosing a school as another child whose parents have chosen to belong to a church.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Fri 07-Jun-13 22:57:34

What is hypocritical church going? No one says you have to believe in anything in particular, the admission criteria should be objective.

I am more fed up with the "sibling rule". Where are only children supposed to go to school, I can't borrow a sibling for an hour a month for a year. Hmmm

wonderingagain Fri 07-Jun-13 23:01:26

There is no reason to have a religious context to schools. It adds nothing but confusion. People can do religion at home. Schools are for learning, let's just leave it a that - it's hard enough without these extra layers of philosophical complexity.

idiuntno57 Fri 07-Jun-13 23:05:35

jassy not mutually exclusive. I am not saying that just because you are not practising you are not committed at all. Just that the rigour of regular worship breeds a certain type of person. No value judgement made or implied. I am sure that some do it 'just' for the school but as a means to an end they are signing up to something pretty big. I speak as a non believer who is married to a devout believer and for whom church is non negotiable.

LizzyDay Fri 07-Jun-13 23:06:02

"Idiunt, I'd challenge the idea that only faith schools, or church communities, have engaged and committed parents. "

Absolutely. On these threads you always get someone saying 'well why are all you non-Christians so keen to get your children into a faith school anyway' - with the implication being that the faith schools are good because of they are run by and attended by 'principled' Christians. As opposed to the local non-Christian or atheist who are unprincipled, uncaring, phillistine skanks, obviously. It makes me very angry indeed.

idiuntno57 Fri 07-Jun-13 23:10:06

not good because of the religion but the rigour. read what I actually said FFS.

LizzyDay Fri 07-Jun-13 23:10:31

And to those saying 'well all you have to do is go to church, it isn't so hard, is it?'

Well it's pretty tricky if you're Muslim or Jewish, for a start.

CouthyMow Fri 07-Jun-13 23:11:06

Yes, but those of us with more than one child DID have to, at first, have to get our eldest child into the school first. At that point, we had just as much chance as someone with an only child of getting that school.

Even parents whose subsequent children get into a school under a sibling rule had to get their first DC in under the same criteria as a parent with an only.

And not having a sibling rule is absurd - parents can't get two children to two different schools two miles apart AT THE SAME TIME, can they?!

And when WE got our oldest child into that school, our oldest child would have been further down the admissions criteria than those in that year group that had older siblings...

JassyRadlett Fri 07-Jun-13 23:11:42

I grew up with the 'rigour' of regular worship. I went to a (private) faith school for 11 years, some of those years as a boarder.

I ultimately reject the notion that regular acts or worship 'breed' greater rigour or commitment than many, many other life choices including but not limited to higher or further education, volunteering or a number of other activities that demand commitment and ultimately benefit society.

Churchgoing with a deadline of your first child getting into a good school is frankly hypocritical, but I can understand why people do it. I don't think it necessarily makes people better or more committed parents than those of us for whom that is an absolute red line.

ljny Fri 07-Jun-13 23:11:52

You pay taxes to have your child educated, and educated they will be. Just not at the school over the road, but the one a few roads away.

A few roads?? Are you joking?? Often, it's many miles. Or an hour's travel.

Bring back neighbourhood schools! Let our children learn togther, let them about each other, and each other's faiths.

It's a sad reflection that any church fills its pews with non-believers who simply want a school place.

LizzyDay Fri 07-Jun-13 23:12:01

If that FFS was to me, we cross posted so no, I hadn't actually read what you had said.

LizzyDay Fri 07-Jun-13 23:14:32

It is utterly ridiculous that children are being driven or bussed miles just so that they can be religiously segregated from children that live in the same street.

wonderingagain Fri 07-Jun-13 23:18:32

I wonder what God would make of it if he came down from the sky and found all these children being educated in a place without His Name on the Front Gates.

I'm surprised they haven't yet been zapped from On High into piles of rubble.

idiuntno57 Fri 07-Jun-13 23:21:44

no system is perfect but look at any school and those with the most engaged parents tend to have better outcomes. It is likely, but not exclusively so, that those actively involved in the wider community e.g. (but not exclusively so) are faith based. Because it is a big committment. End Of.

LizzyDay Fri 07-Jun-13 23:27:38

Actually I think being an engaged, caring parent in modern Britain is not likely to be correlated with how religious you are. Yes perhaps more of them might be prepared to do the hypocritical 'bums on pews' thing but their 'rigour' isn't likely to be coming from god. None of the engaged parents I know are genuinely religious.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Fri 07-Jun-13 23:27:45

At my church there is a Muslim parent, a Budist and that's just the ones I know about.

Sibling rule fine, if that is still your local school. Not so much if you move away, next to the less popular school, where all your kids could have places. In the area where house prices are cheaper.

In my local school it was easier to get into in the past, class sizes were 25 % larger and birth rates were lower.

I am all for getting rid of faith schools, but only when there are enough school places for all kids. If you aren't rich enough to rent the multimillion pind flat next to the school, or don't have siblings at the school, attending church could mean the difference between the school next door or one a bus ride and a tube ride away. So what Tiggy said upthread.

JassyRadlett Fri 07-Jun-13 23:28:54

For some people, it's a big commitment. For others, it's something they have to do every second Sunday for three years then put behind them. That's the reality and if you don't recognise that you're kidding yourself (I will refrain from saying 'end of' because that isn't actually an argument and doesn't prove anything.)

Sure, it's a commitment. But I question whether one example of parental commitment should buy their children more options when it comes to state-funded education.

If your theory is right, those kids at your school will do just as well at a non-faith school because of the commitment of their parents. And I'll get my kid into a school less than half an hour away, which would be nice because one of the things I'm committed to us my local community. Everybody wins! Hooray!

LizzyDay Fri 07-Jun-13 23:33:49

It's actually profoundly irritating that parents are effectively being treated like naughty children if they don't go to church - they don't get the 'reward' of getting their child into a good school unless they behave and 'rock up' to church on a Sunday hmm

JassyRadlett Fri 07-Jun-13 23:35:48

Spot on, Lizzy.

LizzyDay Fri 07-Jun-13 23:39:46

It's just so wrong. As has been pointed out earlier, imagine if this was the case when accessing other state services like the NHS. 'Did you go to church last week? No, well no gall bladder surgery for you then missus.'

idiuntno57 Fri 07-Jun-13 23:41:01

i am sorry you miss my point
Trying to demonstrate that engagement is key however it is come to. It is however impossible to deny that if you properly engage in a community on a weekly basis then you become involved with and motivated by it. This is most llikely to happen in a religious setting not exclusively and not denying the 'paying the school fees' brigade

AbbyR1973 Fri 07-Jun-13 23:41:15

The same group that made a fuss about faith schools on the apparent basis that the vast majority of children that go there are "middle class" are also advocating that school places are allocated on a lottery system. Which is completely ridiculous for anyone that has more than 1 child as there is a pretty good chance all your children will be at different schools and then how will you manage the school run.
Essentially this group is focussing its efforts on preventing naughty middle class people trying to do their best by their children.
It would be far more helpful if they focused on ways to raise the standards of the less good schools then no child would have to go to a poor school.
Even if this group had their way they would still find middle class children would have an "advantage" through all the other things they do to try to ensure their children get the best start in life like extra-curricular activities, tutoring, etc.
This isn't about a quest for excellence it's a race to the bottom.
For the record our local RC school has a massive intake of migrant Eastern Europeans compared to white British. DS's attend a C of E school, and are mixed race I didn't need to do anything special to get them a place and there are children in the school from a range of backgrounds including Muslims.
Those in Government would do well to remember that London is not representative of the entire country.

IKnowWhat Fri 07-Jun-13 23:43:55

There should be an end to all faith schools. It seems so obvious to me confused The education system should be secular.

It is a ridiculous and outdated system. Fancy people thinking it is ok to EXCLUDE children from what may be their closest school because their parents faith. It is ridiculous.

idiuntno57 Fri 07-Jun-13 23:47:28

I believe every child should go to their nearest school. This way parents would have to engage with it to ensure best outcome for their child.

Sadly we believe that 'choice' is better then get upset about how those choices are come by.

tiggytape Fri 07-Jun-13 23:47:45

Lizzy - but surely only as irritating as being the parent of an only-child living nextdoor to a school that is so oversubscribed it only takes siblings?

Or being a parent who cannot afford to live in one of the 7 roads that make up the entire catchment area of the desirable school?

Or being the parent of two children born 8 years apart who never benefit from sibling priority and always miss out and end up in schools miles apart.

Or being a parent where your nearest school has a lottery for places (that you may lose) but whose next nearest school accepts those living closest to it as priority (so children there get 2 bites of the cherry and your child gets no options at all)

Basically not being able to get into your local school or the school you want is a major pain.
If it is also your nearest school and all the others you may get allocated are miles away it is absolutely infuriating.

Whatever the reason, it is profoundly irritating to be told the school 500m from your door is barred to you but it definitely isn't just a faith school problem - it is a school place shortage problem. Most parents wouldn't care at all about faith schools if they could choose to attend one or choose to attend an equivalent non faith school instead but nowadays very few parents have much choice at all.

JassyRadlett Fri 07-Jun-13 23:50:45

Abby, I'm in favour of lotteries for eldest children, I think the sibling tile makes sense and should stand (and my son is an only).

Sure, London (and other parts of the country with massively oversubscribed schools) aren't representative of the whole country. But a hell of a lot of us live here, and for us it's not as simple as 'going to the school a few streets away' or 'all sorts of kids who don't go to the local church get into the local CofE primary.

I'm in the mad situation where there are three schools within a kilometre or my house, my child has zero chance of getting into two of them because they are CofE (with children coming from a long way outside the nominal catchment to attend on a faith selection basis).

There simply aren't enough schools to be sure of getting into anything local, good or bad. The influx from the private sector recently has only increased the pressure on places. As I said up thread, a friend has been offered a place at a school literally miles away; she lives 100 metres from her local school. How is that good for the child's social development or sense of community?

So yes, you'll forgive us for pointing out that this is an issue for a lot of people.

muminlondon Fri 07-Jun-13 23:51:02

prh47bridge - not all the land and buildings for these schools belongs to the church - more recent VA schools or free schools are usually on council land leased for 125 years at peppercorn rent. Voluntary controlled schools - that have less selective admissions policies - are all Church of England (none are Catholic). There are less than a hundred VC secondaries.

And there are three different ways in which faith schools are proliferating:
(a) As new free schools, which have a cap of 50% on faith places. This does not always include siblings so when well established the faith siblings may come out of the remaining 50% thus reducing access by others.
(b) As new voluntary aided schools which are now easier for councils/churches to set up without needing permission from the Secretary of State.
(c) As faith 'ethos' converter academies which takes on a religious trust as a sponsor and may name VA primaries as feeder schools thus limiting access. Some were community schools for decades and by taking on this ethos they are further reducing the number of schools where all faiths can mix.

Yet it is impossible for LAs to set up new community schools unless they are academies with a sponsor or voluntary aided faith schools. Where was this policy in any political manifesto? It's undemocratic.

tiggytape is right. We have to accept that faith schools will not be abolished, there is an ownership issue and some are popular. But the strains really show in areas with a shortage of places yet where a large number are small faith schools with varying admission policies that distort the local patterns. So the community schools end up being forced to expand to an infeasible size and are still oversubscribed. The faith schools are either popular but restrictively selective, or unpopular because they are not rated outstanding and the faith status is only of interest to a minority.

Faith schools' policies can be anachronistic and inflexible in areas where there is already segregation or the demographic has changed. On top of that, I think the most unfair admissions policies are those which distinguish between, e.g. Catholic looked after children and 'others', or where non-faith siblings have a lower priority, or where even among those of the faith, cetain churches/styles of worship are favoured over others, or points are given for voluntary service which may discriminate against working class families. There is often covert social selection even within religious groups.

louisianablue2000 Fri 07-Jun-13 23:56:59

State schools should be secular. If parents want a religious education for their children they can pay for it. I have a friend who couldn't get her daughter into the nearest three schools because they were faith based. That is insane. Luckily the nearest non-faith school has very few siblings so she got into there but the previous year she would have been too far away from ANY non-faith school to get in.

Each area is different so you can't generalise from one area to another. All the faith schools round here are catholic, none of them have any spaces for non-catholics. Just because in certain areas you can get into a faith school without a baptism certificate doesn't mean that's true everywhere.

LizzyDay Fri 07-Jun-13 23:57:10

tiggy - at least criteria like sibling priority and catchment have a common sense basis. But yes, of course it is shit when all local schools are over subscribed.

AbbyR1973 Sat 08-Jun-13 00:06:34

None of this would be an issue if there were
a) enough school places.
b) all schools were of an equal standard.
If you want to solve this debate in London or elsewhere you need to answer these 2 simple points.

JassyRadlett Sat 08-Jun-13 00:19:42

Well, there'd still be the issue of faith schools being funded by the state, and the issue that faith-selective schools distort communities. You can have twice the number of schools, but if they're all faith schools you'll still get distortion and pockets that miss out.

What are your suggestions for making all schools equally good, if that's one of your criteria?

wonderingagain Sat 08-Jun-13 00:35:30

Wow muminlondon I didn't know this:

As faith 'ethos' converter academies which takes on a religious trust as a sponsor and may name VA primaries as feeder schools thus limiting access.

That effectively wipes out a whole secondary school from the secular equation.

It's all trickery. It's like the banking system, so complicated that only those in the system know how it works.

Children are born equal but in this country, at the age of 5 some become more equal than others.

Crumbledwalnuts Sat 08-Jun-13 00:50:26

Faith schools might "go down" in quality though. Parents who are prepared to get the family to church for 0900 on a Sunday morning for up to ten years in order to achieve a certain education are likely to have a lot of good input into their children's education and thus the school. If you dilute that the quality of the school could go down.

Crumbledwalnuts Sat 08-Jun-13 00:53:51

I believe every child should go to their nearest school. This way parents would have to engage with it to ensure best outcome for their child.

I think this is a nice idea too except it wouldn't work any more. It wouldn't take away the nice house-nice school-nice area combo.

wonderingagain Sat 08-Jun-13 01:05:21

You'd need to throw in a bit of a lottery system too.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Sat 08-Jun-13 07:23:18

Idiun you're talking absolute nutter tosh.

"Regular worship breeds a particular type of person" - what people that believe in fairy tales,snobbery and I'm better than all the oiks attitude?How does that make schools better exactly?

Sooooo because I don't believe in the baloney that is the Bible I'm not a committed parent.Ha bloody ha!

Oh and as has been mentioned further down the thread most Christians aren't regular church goers anyway so that blows your little theory out the water.

We have a very strong community thank you very much,little crime and a very strong community spirit,very few church goers so strong community does not need an abundance of church goers.

Our school was Outstanding interestingly enough but then the new Christian head who pushes the Christianity part far too much took his eye off the ball of what actually matters ie results and it plummeted to Satisfactory- same kids and same committed parents in very leafy area.

It's this kind of attitude that really makes me resent my kids having to attend a church school.angry

muminlondon Sat 08-Jun-13 07:28:14

The whole system is an unfair lottery if you can't get into your oversubscribed local school - your second school was oversubscribed on first preference, so was your third, and the insane thing is that you can only get allocated the less popular or new school two miles away ... which could be CofE, Jewish or Muslim.

There is a difference between primary level - where 30% of places are in church schools but historically this assumed everyone was Christian - and secondary, where the most strictly selective faith schools used to be grammars and are clinging on to that exclusivity. We have never had selective primaries and the vast majority want the nearest school they can walk to as five year olds have little legs and parents may also be struggling with prams. So if this campaign just focuses on primary it is a start.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Sat 08-Jun-13 08:57:23

lizzy not as irritating as being treated as a naughty child FOR going to church. Go away , accept the school a mile from your door, go past x number of schools on your way, we don't want you at your next door Church school making it all MC. Only I'm not blooming MC...

Yes I live in London.

There are not enough school places. The LEA says there are enough. the LEA is blaming the parents for skewing the system "in favour" of church schools.

prh47bridge Sat 08-Jun-13 09:12:05

muminlondon - In the vast majority of cases the land and buildings (apart from the playing fields) belong to the charitable foundation (effectively the church). Cases where the LA owns all the land and buildings are extremely rare.

I'm aware that there are no VC RC schools but it is not true to say that all VC schools are CofE. For what it is worth only around half of VC secondary schools are CofE.

I am aware of the BHA's views that it is now easier for faith groups to set up VA schools. They appear to believe that changing the word "voluntary" to "voluntary controlled" in some sections of the Education and Inspections Act means that it is possible to set up VA schools without following the requirements of the EIA relating to new schools. I believe they are wrong. My view is that the change means it is now impossible to set up a new VA school as there is no legislation permitting such a school to be established let alone defining the process for doing so. I am in any case not aware of any new VA schools being established.

Whilst it is true that the sponsor of a convertor academy may be religious in character they are not permitted to introduce selection by faith. If any are naming local VA schools as feeders as you allege they should be referred to the Schools Adjudicator (and possibly also the EFA). My view is that this would be a way of introducing faith selection by the back door which would therefore be a breach of the school's funding agreement.

prh47bridge Sat 08-Jun-13 09:46:18

Sorry - the penny has just dropped regarding naming VA schools as feeders.

Of course an academy that has feeder schools will include some VA schools. It has no choice. A community school will also include VA schools as feeders. They cannot refuse to name a school as a feeder simply because it is a VA school, nor can they refuse to name it simply because it is a community school. It would be a problem if all their feeder schools were VA schools (which is what I thought you were alleging) or if the mix of schools was significantly out of line with the mix in the area (e.g. 20% of the schools in the area are VA but 80% of the feeder schools are VA). But there is absolutely nothing wrong with an academy including some VA schools in the list of feeders.

idiuntno57 Sat 08-Jun-13 10:00:01

blueskies they are not mutually exclusive. Just because you don't go to church every week doesn't make you feckless etc. Just because you do doesn't ensure you are not. I am just trying to make a point about levels of engagement. Being very involved in a community (religious or no) indicates a certain sort of person/ethos. This type of person is more likely to be engaged in child's education because it is an extension of community and represents an investment of time and self in said community.

I don't think faith schools are right. However as said before I believe that if all parents had to engage fully in their local school because it was their only option then over time things would be better all round. You see it happening in London where MC parents get their child into an undesirable school then do their hardest to improve it by joining PTA etc.

Prob is we feel we should 'choose' and this choice leads to inequality.

tallulah Sat 08-Jun-13 11:06:19

We were denied a place at our nearest primary school because of siblings. When it comes to secondary we have a "catchment" system. Our catchment school is dire, but we are denied a place in another catchment where the schools are better, so we effectively have no choice at all. But that's OK because it is fine to select on house-prices, or let people whose elder child was luckily born in a low-birthrate year have priority for their younger child despite living further away. hmm Just as long as we keep religion out of it.

If you are going to select on distance then it should equally apply to siblings (and FWIW we had 4 DC at 4 different schools for several years - it can be done)

I find a lot of these anti-religion comments very offensive. If you were to say the same thing about immigrants/ muslims you'd be branded racist but it's OK to slag off the Church of England.

LizzyDay Sat 08-Jun-13 11:25:14

"If you were to say the same thing about immigrants/ muslims you'd be branded racist but it's OK to slag off the Church of England."

I don't think anyone on this thread has slagged off the Church of England (or Christians, Muslims or atheists).

People are objecting to religious discrimination when it comes to accessing state services. I agree that the sibling system and the catchment system can be harsh, especially in oversubscribed areas, but imo it's the fairest system out of a bad bunch. The problem is simply that there aren't enough school places in some areas.

LizzyDay Sat 08-Jun-13 11:30:21

Re the house price thing, the catchment system can be tweaked so that each catchment includes a mix of areas. I'm not sure of the degree to which this happens in practice, but it should happen where possible imo.

LizzyDay Sat 08-Jun-13 11:37:56

"Being very involved in a community (religious or no) indicates a certain sort of person/ethos. This type of person is more likely to be engaged in child's education because it is an extension of community and represents an investment of time and self in said community."

I don't think anyone would argue with that - I wouldn't, anyway. The point here is surely 'religious or not'?

I get very annoyed when it is suggested that it's a Christian ethos which makes a school good, because actually it's all about having parents and staff who care - and it's pretty insulting to say that non-Christians or atheists are more likely not to care about their kids than Christians.

Crumbledwalnuts Sat 08-Jun-13 11:48:34

If people were to put as much energy into their own school as campaigning to get rid of faith schools, their own schools might start to match them for standards.

LizzyDay Sat 08-Jun-13 11:50:27

"their own schools might start to match them for standards."

What do you mean by 'their own schools'?

Personally speaking, I have put probably hundreds of free hours work into my DC's school. Oh and guess what, I didn't do it for religious reasons.

Crumbledwalnuts Sat 08-Jun-13 11:54:47

Well done, but lots of people object to faith schools because they're the best schools in the area and they can't get their kids in. The answer then is not to abolish faith schools but to make their own schools better.

muminlondon Sat 08-Jun-13 12:22:15

prh47bridge you are right that the majority of VA school land and buildings belong to the church as this historically was the only way governments could expand compulsory schooling and raise the school leaving age quickly enough. There is an issue with expanding their size as well because they have to pay VAT on building work so it is more expensive for council and church, especially with 20% VAT. But Blair's expansion of minority faith voluntary aided schools (Muslim, Sikh) did involve land owned by the LA - the groups complained they did not have the wealth and central organisation of RC or CofE dioceses. The newest VA Catholic school is probably in Richmond - a new Catholic secondary and primary is about to open. The council bought the land and building or £9 million specifically so that it could lease it to the diocese. Although there was uncertainty due to a judicial review - and new schools take time to become popular - on opening it will be undersubscribed (many of the secondary places had to be allocated - to non-Catholics), while the community primaries and converter secondaries are popping at the seams.

'only around half of VC secondary schools are CofE' - because they no longer have any religious denomination (or some may be ex grammars turned comprehensive like Rutlish School). The list of them is

'Whilst it is true that the sponsor of a convertor academy may be religious in character they are not permitted to introduce selection by faith.' - No, but it might put off children of other faiths from applying thus accelerating segregation. A Muslim, Jewish, Sikh or evangelical Christian sponsor - as the only sponsor - would set a specific ethos and children would be attracted or put off accordingly.

'naming local VA schools as feeders' - if the school didn't have feeders pre-academy and if those feeders are taking children from a specific catchment and denying local children a place, in an otherwise multi-faith community, it is wrong. This was the proposal at Tudor Grange in Birmingham:

ljny Sat 08-Jun-13 12:25:29

If people were to put as much energy into their own school...

Not everyone has the luxury of 'our own school'.

An example: DGD got a nursery place in the closest school. She was then assigned to a different infants. She got back in off the waiting list but probably won't be able to stay for juniors (same site, separate admissions) as distances keep shrinking. She could be sent anywhere. Same for her little brother - we have absolutely no idea where the LA will send him in 3 years. Could be any of 10 schools, whatever is undersubscribed.

I agree with you, crumbledwalnuts, that families should put energy into their local schools, If only we had one!

Faith schools didn't singlehandedly cause this mess, but they're a significant factor.

JakeBullet Sat 08-Jun-13 12:34:35

My son attends a Catholic primary school of which about 60% of the intake is Catholic, the rest being of other faiths or none. Although there is a daily "thank you" etc, the stuff the school promotes is broadly about caring for others within the school and outside of the school too. It could equally do this as a non faith school. The church owns the land and the buildings but does not seem to have too heavy an input to school life.

My own feelings (as a Catholic) are that we have little choice but to accept that some schools are faith based unless of course we wish to pay higher taxes to buy out the property which belongs to the church.

I am completely in agreement that schools should select broadly from the local community and not just based upon faith. It might then see an end to the "many years of church attendance just to get the children into the right school". It might also see a more diverse population going into other state schools.

My sons school is lovely but not the top performing in the area although it doesn't do too bad. It also takes children who have been excluded from other schools to give them a fresh start and puts time and energy into them in order to help them achieve. This is what makes it lovely.

muminlondon Sat 08-Jun-13 12:35:04

lots of people object to faith schools because they're the best schools in the area and they can't get their kids in

No, envy is not the main reason in my view - it's frustration at having uneven school choice, confusing identity in areas where there may be a lot of Somali or Bangladeshi children but the local schools are all named after saints, covert social selection that ensures a middle class intake in one school leaving the other neighbourhood schools with a more disadvantaged intake, or simply the distorted patterns of admission and rather random siting of schools/lack of real planning. In my area, the most oversubscribed schools are community schools and the undersubscribed one are CofE.

Crumbledwalnuts Sat 08-Jun-13 12:57:43

It is for a lot of people though. Frustration at uneven school choice is basically envy, your second point isn't confusion about saints, it's about fear of other languages, covert social selection is basically envy, fear of a more disadvantaged intake is basically envy.

JassyRadlett Sat 08-Jun-13 12:58:02

Idiunt, I'd love to engage fully in either of our local schools. I really would. But my son is denied entry to either because I won't hypocritically attend church to 'buy' him a place. So what's the solution for me/him? A school miles away will deny him effective participation in his local community and make my participation significantly more difficult because of distance.

Honestly, the concept of a local school we can get our child into is a pipe dream for many of us, because faith schools distort the admissions picture so significantly.

And then those who can afford the inflated house prices next to the church school snaffle any non-faith places. Unfortunately I don't have £750K to spend on a house.

I fail to see that there is much or any religion-bashing on the thread; I've a significant amount of respect for those who are truly committed to their faiths. But I don't think it has a place in state-funded education, particularly when it gives one set of children a much greater chance of getting into their local school than another set who, apart from the faith of their parents, are in identical circumstances.

JassyRadlett Sat 08-Jun-13 13:02:03

Crumbled, damn straight it's about envy. I envy those who are able to send their children to the school two streets over because of their faith, be it real or professed, while my kid will be forced to attend school miles away from his local community.

I would much rather send my child to an average local school than an outstanding one further away, because I love our community and want him to play an active role in it, and I would have more time to play an active role in his education.

Just because I'm envious that the state chooses to bestow advantages to one set of children based on a rather arbitrary measure, doesn't make me wrong, or faith schools right.

muminlondon Sat 08-Jun-13 14:17:50

Church schools have served their purpose and helped expand education. But we live in a very different society now with a rapidly fragmenting school landscape of 2,000 academies imposed in top of that old order of church schools (mainly two denominations of the same religion, one of which always prioritises its own, the other with widely varying policies depending on the whim of its generally male foundation governors) and a a system of democratically accountable LA-controlled schools (now weakened by the academies policy). Both VA and academy schools now control their own admissions. There should at least be consistency among church admissions so that they are representative of their neighbourhoods, do not discriminate against children in care whose parents did not baptise them, or siblings of local children attending the school, or other faiths. All faith schools - not just academies - should have a 50% cap on those selected on faith criteria but if no one else applies they can fill up with more faith applicants. Or no more faith schools at all. Not both.

AbbyR1973 Sat 08-Jun-13 17:56:26

Lets imagine for a minute that people on here got their wish and faith schools were abolished.
Surely that will just make pressure on the existing school system worse. Many people have pointed out that the buildings etc already belong to the church... Is the state going to buy them back? How much will that cost? Or is it proposed that state funding would be cut from faith schools. Essentially this forces them either to close or become private schools. In most cases the parents will be unable to afford to fund a private education and any schools that by chance retained enough children to stay open would have 0% children on FSM because they would be excluded as a result of the financial cost of attending. In the end everybody loses out.
Essentially, The Sutton Trust (the group that have a beef with faith schools) do so because they have a higher proportion of middle class children. They advocate a lottery system but this is just an attempt at social engineering which will be entirely ineffective. Unfortunately there are a sector of children in society that don't achieve as they should but very little of this is to do with schools/ state and much of it is to do with parenting. "Choice" of school is only one small way MC parents apparently improve the lot of their offspring, however much of what is done happens even before those children start school.
You have only to read other threads now to see how common it is becoming for children to start school not even knowing their own name, entirely unprepared for school life. There is a rather rubbish school in our town however there is a group of parents that are very happy for their children to go there simply because it is so close by they don't even need to bother to get dressed to take their children to school or for that matter to pick them up in the afternoon. These children could attend the best school in the country but I suspect it would make very little difference to their outcome. If the state wants to make a difference it needs to change how some families operate with respect to their children.

muminlondon Sat 08-Jun-13 18:50:58

The campaign isn't about abolishing faith schools, it's about fair admissions. It's backed by Accord which is made up of various faith groups:

'While the Fair Admissions Campaign would welcome legislative change to end such selection, other goals include persuading Dioceses and individual religiously selective schools to embrace open/more open admission arrangements'

This could mean something as simple as an admission policy like this:

1 Children in public care
2 18 foundation places
3 Siblings
4 Distance

What's the admission policy of your school?

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Sat 08-Jun-13 19:42:29

but Muminlondon wouldn't that mean that local children have no chance of getting a school place unless their parents attend church?

so for an intake of 30

1, 01
2, 18
3, 11
4, 00

so one or two children could get in on distance, depending on that years siblings. Or maybe not all siblings would get in. The 10 siblings don't live anywhere near the school btw. Of course this doesn't take into account the children with SEN who have this school named for them.

I don't know what the answer is, but I know it isn't simple and I don't trust Dioceses to sort it out

AryaUnderfoot Sat 08-Jun-13 20:13:43

Muminlondon a similar move towards open admission was recently proposed by the head of the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education (CofE). He suggested that church schools should return to their original purpose of serving their local community by ensuring that places were not 'reserved' for church families.

Unfortunately, the board of governors of many church schools that control their own admissions are made up, in no insignificant part, by local clergy. The CofE can exert great pressure on local churches to 'raise sufficient funds' though their weekly collections, and the church-school-conveyor-belt is a great revenue generator in a time of falling church attendance.

As someone upthread said, it is central government that are ultimately responsible for publishing the admissions code for schools. Whilst we have a situation where champagne socialists such as Blair and Clegg can celebrate publicly the fact that their children attend 'non-selective comprehensives' such as London Oratory, the government has no particular desire to upset the status quo.

LizzyDay Sat 08-Jun-13 22:38:53

"Unfortunately, the board of governors of many church schools that control their own admissions are made up, in no insignificant part, by local clergy. The CofE can exert great pressure on local churches to 'raise sufficient funds' though their weekly collections, and the church-school-conveyor-belt is a great revenue generator in a time of falling church attendance."

This is one of the reasons why the system is effectively corrupt and hypocritical.

muminlondon Sun 09-Jun-13 01:00:02

That admissions policy was for a local school that takes 60 per year. So it's a cap of just over 25% faith applicants. It's a popular school too. Free schools have a 50% faith criteria limit - VA schools should aim for that too.

At the same time, I completely agree that Labour is weak and divided on faith school policy and close down debate. The Tories are mostly in favour of faith schools doing what they like and behaving like grammar schools (but surprisingly, Kenneth Baker was the last one to try to impose 25% open place quotas in the Lords - one of those old-fashioned Tories of principle) and while many grassroots LibDems are in favour of fair admissions, those in prominent positions send their children private (or to the Oratory) so are pretty wishy washy. I'm sick of obfuscation and would like honest debate - what do fair admissions look like? How do faith schools impact on their local communities? Why do academies have a 50% faith places limit and not VA schools? Who thought that policy up? Why are new VA schools still being allowed?

prh47bridge Sun 09-Jun-13 09:45:31

You ask why academies have a 50% faith places limit and not VA schools. I would suggest the answer to that is simple politics. The limit on academies is aimed at schools that don't yet exist and is therefore unlikely to draw any significant organised opposition. Imposing a limit on VA schools however could draw serious opposition so I suspect Michael Gove (the author of this policy) decided this was a battle he could do without.

muminlondon Sun 09-Jun-13 13:58:03

The thing is, Gove did have a battle in the form of a judicial review over the new VA school in Richmond. Yet he had previously said he thought a 50% cap on faith admissions was a good idea. As if it wasn't his.

The government won, which clarifies in law that new voluntary aided schools - agreed between councils and dioceses - can be set up as an alternative to academies (the sponsor could still be a Catholic diocese) or a free school (also like sponsored academies).

Churches therefore have greater power and influence over new and converting schools than ever before. Parents do not get a proper say in this. There hasn't been a debate in parliament on this for years - Labour scrapped an amendment in 2006 saying a voluntary agreement had been reached - obviously not with the Catholic Church.

NurtureMyBaby Wed 12-Jun-13 19:37:27

I'm going to back this campaign in whatever small ways I can. Our son is 2 and our two nearest primary schools are both faith schools that discriminate in their admissions processes.

I am shocked that this discrimination can legally take place and see no positives in it whatsoever. I blogged about it here:

weasle Wed 12-Jun-13 21:31:38

I'd strongly support a campaign to remove faith schools. The teaching of any religion as fact and not opinion has no part in schools IMHO. Sure, take your kids to church/mosque/temple etc at the weekend, but children if all faiths should be able to go to their local schools. If you want your dc brainwashed then the taxes shouldn't be used for this!
It promotes a 'them and us' mentality eg in N Ireland.
I realise the C of E has the state over a barrel with this as they own the buildings. So I doubt much will change unfortunately.

BayJay Wed 12-Jun-13 22:09:12

weasle, the Fair Admissions Campaign isn't about removing state funding from faith schools. There are other campaigns for that (e.g. see the BHA website). This campaign has a narrower focus, and is about opening up the admissions of faith schools. Its being run by an ecumenical coalition of groups, some of which like faith schools, and others that don't. However they're all working together on the one thing they do agree on, which is that if we're going to have state funded faith schools, their admissions should be open to everyone who wants to go to them. Its about parents choosing schools rather than schools choosing parents.

2468Motorway Thu 13-Jun-13 00:07:28

The most shocking part of any admissions code for a catholic school I have read is LAC (with baptism before 1 year + regular church attendance), then the regular church attendees etc, then LAC (not meeting the religious requirements) . What sort of heartless school expects children who have had disrupted and possibly chaotic lives to meet the religious requirement. The school is usually full with the children of church goers so would never get down that far.

It's covert selection of the already advantaged who have organized parents who get their bit of paper signed every week against a child who most likely won't have an advocate like that. That's in addition to excluding other faiths and children who may have moved a lot or come from separated parents. To discriminate against the odd lac child I thought was pretty low.

WouldBeHarrietVane Thu 13-Jun-13 00:10:24

We have friends who moved to an area where there were two Ofsted outstanding schools. They didn't realise both selected mainly on a strict church attendance (one COE one catholic) and baptism basis and they were horrified to find their son was not able to go to either school confused

Farewelltoarms Thu 13-Jun-13 09:23:51

Yes Motorway I think it's so shocking about LAC non-Catholic children. I cannot fathom how this fits in with the teachings of Jesus. You're absolutely right that it entrenches advantage. Recent immigrants, refugees, members of the traveller community and children from chaotic families are unlikely to have lived somewhere the requisite two years and gone to church every week. These (in not all cases, but statistically) groups can be harder to reach. Ergo, if you eliminate them from your school you'll get a cohort that is more school ready. I have no issue with my children going to school with children from these groups (and they do - their school has children who've been taken into social services their parenting was so poor), but I do have an issue with there being a disproportionate number due to neighbouring schools excluding them. And then crowing about their results.

BayJay Thu 13-Jun-13 11:23:07

I do think that the Fair Admissions Campaign is pushing at a semi-open door on this politically, and if enough people get behind the campaign it could be successful in arguing for change. Public opinion, and some Church of England opinion, seems to be in favour, and some politicians (e.g. Vince Cable) are speaking out on the issue. Ironically, the coalition government already has a policy to facilitate inclusive admissions, its just not necessarily being implemented in some areas. It needs parents to speak out to get the snowball moving.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 13-Jun-13 11:30:35

I personally think that more community schools should be built and faith schools should be strict with their criteria.
Some people go to church for 6 weeks just to try and meet the criteria, when others have been christened and attended the church from the off set. When there is over subscription it wouldn't be fair to let a non church attender into the school over those who do.
I think in this day and age it is better to find a house closest to the school you are able/ not wish you could attend.

Farewelltoarms Thu 13-Jun-13 12:03:09

Sorry morethan, why isn't it fair to let a non-church attender into the school over those that do attend? Why are their children more worthy of an education than the non-attender? This would be fair only if the community school was also allowed to prioritise the admission of a child of parents of no faith.

xylem8 Thu 13-Jun-13 12:38:28

How are you going to afford to remove faith schools.About 1/3 of the schools in this country were orginally founded by the church and the buildings/land bequested to the LEA on the condition that religious charcter is maintained.This is legally binding. so it would mean finding new sites an funding the land purchase and building costs of tens of thousands of new schools !

Llareggub Thu 13-Jun-13 12:47:59

I am very grateful that my sons go to a Catholic school. We aren't catholic and moved to the area a few months back. All the local schools were full, and we were lucky enough to get a place at a lovely Catholic school, despite us being of catchment and non believers. I don't even go to church. Our school is very diverse, and no one has hassled me to oppose gay marriage. No judgements for being a single mum, either. :-)

Copthallresident Thu 13-Jun-13 12:56:50

This issue is coming to a head in London where there is a huge increase in pupil numbers coming through and not enough school places to cater for them. It is by no means certain that the Free School Programme will have the funds, or non faith sponsors to meet demand. Even now in some boroughs you have a situation where parents who can meet the faith criteria ( whether from genuine belief or going through the motions) are effectively inoculated from the crisis whilst parents who cannot, either through principal, or not knowing about or being able to meet the criteria (as already discussed disproportionately amongst with the greatest social need) are discriminated against. Some of the latter are genuinely religious. The strict application of the requirement for baptism by six months by oversubscribed schools in London precludes many Catholics who come from countries, most notably Poland, where early baptism has not been custom and practise.

Some priests and vicars and their genuine congregation are also frustrated with a situation where their pews are filled with the parents of children of a certain age, and often affluence, prepared only to go through the motions of attendence and make a temporary contribution to the life of the church. This so especially when the children of those in need in their parish are unable to gain the benefit of their faith community's school. There is considerable support in faith community's for the principal that faith schools should provide benefit to the wider community, and be especially inclusive of those most in need.

Farewelltoarms Thu 13-Jun-13 13:12:26

Beautifully put Copthall.

3rdnparty Thu 13-Jun-13 13:25:40

I have to walk past the school at the end of my road less than 100m as it is RC absolutely no chance of getting in unless baptised less than 3mths, the local C of E school requires non stop attendance, and thats just the primaries
the secondaries are worse - attendance + activity to get points- points mean prizes grin and here the prize is a place in the only senior schools that aren't huge...its just wrong...local schools for local kids....that are not faith schools..

shebird Thu 13-Jun-13 13:55:48

They are not just called faith schools for the sake of it - they do actually practice the faith in these schools. I'm pretty certain not everyone on here who thinks their DCs should go to a faith school actually has any idea what attendance at such a school this really involves for them or their children. At a catholic school for example it means masses at school, hymn practice, prayers at assembly, celebration of catholic holy days. There is no opt of of these things for those non believers. The church and catholic ethos are a core part of the school life. If I were not religious in any way I would find it very hard to be part of all that as a parent but it must be even harder for children.

Copthallresident Thu 13-Jun-13 14:31:03

shebird but it is a matter of choice isn't it? I am in favour of faith schools as a choice for those who are genuinely of a faith or have a cultural affiliation with that faith, but not where the shortage of school places means that they exclude those who have not gone through a set of hoops to get in. The choice becomes a privilege then, and discriminates against others. I am sure it is not what the Catholic church intends but in London those hoops have become a means of some parents walking over the backs of other parents to gain the privilege of a school place and turned schools that served faith community's into middle class ghettos. It also means that the desire for a place at a "good" school gets artificially conflated with faith. You are quite right that the "bells and whistles" may not be to everyone's taste but for some they may be the price they pay to get a school place at all, let alone one in a school of choice.

Farewelltoarms Thu 13-Jun-13 14:43:37

Shebird - I think most parents would rather a Catholic school than no school at all.
And if faith in schools is so important to those whose children attend them, why do they frequently opt for a non-religious school (e.g. a grammar or a community school with good results) when it seems to offer them something better?

shebird Thu 13-Jun-13 14:56:08

So if a faith school can no longer accept children on the basis of faith and the school is oversubscribed what selection criteria should they apply? Distance? Again this will be selective as house prices will be driven up even further and only those that can afford live in the catchment area will get in. The only truly fair alternative is a lottery this causes issues for those with siblings already at a school. The problem will not be resolved by making faith schools change selection criteria what we need is a campaign for more schools and better schools.

DoesBuggerAll Thu 13-Jun-13 15:08:04

I don't know where people get the idea that Catholic schools are full of middle class children. The average Catholic in the UK is working class, lower income and quite likely to be an immigrant. That's the case at my children's Catholic school. Also around 40% have special needs. Over half last years intake had two foreign non-native English speaking parents. Our Catholic schools are far more ethnically diverse than any of the non-faith schools in the area. It also admits non-Catholics most years though over 100 were turned down this year (70 or so places).

BayJay Thu 13-Jun-13 15:08:59

xylem8 - the Fair Admissions Campaign isn't trying to remove faith schools, but only to open up their admissions to everyone who wants to attend. Many brand new Church of England schools have no faith criteria in their admissions systems at all, and new faith academies aren't allowed to have more than 50:50 faith admissions. The campaign is saying that existing schools should move in the same direction.

shebird - it's true that people applying to faith schools need to be comfortable with the ethos of the school, but that's very different to having to 'prove' their faith credentials to get in.

DoesBuggerAll Thu 13-Jun-13 15:10:51

Oh, and even given the special needs, low-income backgrounds and language handicaps the school has been rated outstanding for many years and achieves very high results far in excess of the national average.

DoesBuggerAll Thu 13-Jun-13 15:15:54

Bayjay - are you saying my child shouldn't be able to attend their local Catholic school because some non-Catholic whiny middle-class parent wants their little Tarquin to go there? The schools are owned by the Catholic Church, they were built by the donations and hard work of local Catholics who gave of their hard-earned wages to set up schools for their children. You want a piece of that but don't want to pay for it? Form a community of like minded parents and build your own school.

Copthallresident Thu 13-Jun-13 15:20:21

shebird That is not going to happen though is it? The country does not have enough money. And the current faith criteria which obviously only kick in if a school is oversubscribed (and I know many Catholic Schools that are effectively inclusive because they are not oversubscribed who do an excellent job of serving their communities) result in schools that are far more socially selective than distance criteria would result in. Our local Catholic Primary School has 2% of children on Free School Meals whilst the Community Primary next door has 10%, similar disparities exist in terms of the representation of black and minority ethic pupils and, anecdotally, Eastern European pupils. At least with distance criteria the local schools serve their local community, and also enable parents and children who have small legs to walk to school, and to have friends in the local area. That social discrimination at our local Catholic School is also reflected in the number of 4*4s clogging the road around the school gate. I expect they have expensive houses too, helped by the fact they effectively have been provided with an exclusive private school at tax payer expense.

The faith criteria are in any case a blunt instrument, inconsistently applied. We do have one undersubscribed local Catholic School, mainly because the priest is far more exacting about imposing the faith criteria than those in surrounding Parishes, unless the family has proven social need, or come from a Catholic country. Laudable except that given the shortage of spaces non Catholics find themselves allocated to the school because it is the only one with spaces in the area. Even if a faith school is acceptable to the parents they then find that the children of Catholic parents are given priority over their siblings, and they will be at the mercy of the even greater school place shortages in coming years.

How can it be right to discriminate against a child not only because of their parents faith, but also their ability to have had them baptised at the right time, provide evidence of church going etc. etc. etc. and on the whim of a priest?

2468Motorway Thu 13-Jun-13 16:25:33

Ok, those who believe in the system that means faith schools can exclude LAC who do not meet the exact faith criteria can you justify this? Do you think its right?

LAC are at the back of the queue for every system that needs an effective advocate. How can it be right or fair or Christian?

JakeBullet Thu 13-Jun-13 16:30:30

LAC are first on the list at DS's Catholic school, followed by baptised Catholics, siblings etc.

Is that not standard then?shock

shebird Thu 13-Jun-13 16:38:41

If the local faith school was in special measures would you be crying out for them change their admissions policy. Probably not. I suspect just because many faith schools have a good reputation then everyone wants a part of it. If faith schools have to admit more non faith than faith children then eventually the whole point of the school being a particular faith will be eroded.

Copthallresident I think the idea that all faith schools are middle class and clogged with 4X4s is a myth. It might be the case in London but this is an exception and not way in the majority of cases. The faith schools I am familiar with are very much working class and most certainly not 'exclusive private schools'. As mentioned byDoesBuggerAll church schools are part funded by the church to which we donate and you forget we are also taxpayers.

BayJay Thu 13-Jun-13 16:38:44

DoesBuggerAll - you said "are you saying my child shouldn't be able to attend their local Catholic school because some non-Catholic whiny middle-class parent wants their little Tarquin to go there?"

No, I'm saying that everyone who wants to go there should have an equal chance, whatever their reasons for wanting to apply. Schools shouldn't apply value-judgements on parents' reasons for choosing them.

"The schools are owned by the Catholic Church, they were built by the donations and hard work of local Catholics who gave of their hard-earned wages to set up schools for their children. You want a piece of that but don't want to pay for it?"

Many of them are on church land. Some of them aren't. All of them have their running costs met by the general taxpayer. 10% of their capital costs are met by the church, but that doesn't amount to very much, and in any case is covered by parents' voluntary contributions.

Anyway, if non-Catholic parents send their children to Catholic VA schools they will be asked to make the same voluntary contributions as the Catholic parents, so will be making an appropriate financial contribution.

BayJay Thu 13-Jun-13 16:54:29

"I suspect just because many faith schools have a good reputation then everyone wants a part of it."
Shebird - if the schools are good, or even if they aren't, then why shouldn't everyone have the opportunity to be a part of them? At the moment there is a lot of back-stabbing and innuendo about people's reasons for going to church. That's not good for the image of the church, and neither is the reputation for 'exclusivity', which doesn't sit well with many people's idea of Christianity.

Copthallresident Thu 13-Jun-13 17:07:56

shebird By the same token would you regard it as fair if your nearest Catholic School was in special measures and the community school was outstanding but you were excluded from the community school because you are Catholic? However you are merely highlighting that the issue is really about having access to good schools, and whether they are faith schools or not, faith criteria is a discriminatory and far less fair means of determining who gets a place in a good school than distance.

It is most certainly not a myth that Catholic Schools are more middle class than their local areas, three quarters of Catholic Schools have a more affluent mix than their local area I know full well that many Catholic primary schools serve their working class and immigrant communities well, in the immigrant community that I grew up in they reflect a local community that is now more than 80% Muslim, ironically acting as a vehicle for integration. However more often than not this happens where schools are effectively inclusive because they are not oversubscribed. It is the exclusive faith criteria that drives social exclusion.

bayjay has dealt with the issue of the financial contribution of the church who gain exclusivity very cheaply.

muminlondon Thu 13-Jun-13 17:31:29

JakeBullet, every single Catholic school in my LA makes a distinction between Catholic looked after/adopted children and 'others', the latter being below the priority for baptised children who have never otherwise set foot in a church (although they are entirely dependent on their parents in this respect). Also, siblings are prioritised in the same hierarchy, even where the school may have provided a bulge class and had non-Catholic children allocated by the LA. Typical admissions policy:

1 Catholic children in public care/adopted
2 Baptised Catholic children from practising Catholic
3 Other baptised Catholic children
4 Other children in public care/adopted
5 Children from Catechumen families
6 Children from families with affiliation to Eastern
Christian churches
7 Others

shebird Thu 13-Jun-13 18:22:06

If you really are desperate for your child to attend a faith school, then have them baptised and go to church every week.

muminlondon Thu 13-Jun-13 18:39:01

shebird, do you think it is right that adopted or looked after children who have not been baptised are lower down the priority list? There aren't many of them but they are vulnerable and would benefit more than most from a caring ethos in their local community.

BayJay Thu 13-Jun-13 18:48:50

"If you really are desperate for your child to attend a faith school, then have them baptised and go to church every week."

Shebird, my area has so many faith schools,and so few community places, that that is exactly what people are doing in droves - not because they particularly want to get them into a faith school, but because they want to be able to get them into any local school.

There are more children than places, so on offer-day dozens of people are told they will have to wait until people higher up in the pecking order drop out of the system to go private. It is always the children from non-church-going families that are at the back of the queue. Last year 30 of them had to wait until Christmas before starting school, so a new bulge class could be built for them.

When school systems are under that much pressure, the faith schools need to open their doors to let others in.

Copthallresident Thu 13-Jun-13 19:01:51

shebird That is exactly what droves of parents are doing, but there are also people, even some who are genuinely of faith, who cannot do that. Those who come from countries, especially those that were communist, where it is simply not the local practise to baptise early, people whose family live in poverty who may not be able to make it to church each week because they are working, perhaps in two jobs, people who struggle to cope with life let alone organising all the paperwork required etc etc. It is why faith criteria are becoming a means for the middle classes to climb over other parents in order to gain the p[privilege of a school place, it is blatantly unjust.

It is also as I wrote further down the thread frustrating to genuine members of church communities to have their church filled with people who go through the motions without making any long term contribution and commitment and deprive children they know are in genuine need of the support of their community's school of a place. A friend who runs her church's support service for old people is fuming that she struggles to find volunteers whilst there is never any shortage of people to do the nice self limiting jobs like the flowers that will earn them points in the lottery of goodness for the most selective Catholic Schools.

muminlondon Thu 13-Jun-13 19:57:06

I would agree that families who are not sympathetic to the faith ethos of a school should not have to send their children there, but since 2010 church schools are the only 'maintained' schools that councils are allowed to set up.

In areas where there isn't a shortage of places, if parents are sympathetic to the faith ethos of the school but are not practising themselves - perhaps because have different cultural traditions but respect each other and/or have not been settled in a community for long - the school can provide both continuity and an education in the beliefs and traditions of that faith. Ther children are likely to be influenced by their friends as much as their parents, but will come to their own understanding. Assuming there is still choice in some areas, it is in keeping with religious values not to discriminate against those families who show an interest but need support and encouragement.

LittleStorm Thu 13-Jun-13 20:15:00

It's not just that discriminating by faith upon admission is downright immoral - and many faith schools do this not just with children but also with staff -; the whole idea of indoctrinating children in a state-run educational institution is a howler in itself. What children need is to be taught critical thinking skills; not blind faith.

BayJay Thu 13-Jun-13 20:27:45

Little Storm, "the whole idea of indoctrinating children ..." is not something that the Fair Admissions Campaign is dealing with. That's a much wider debate, being led by groups like the BHA and others. The Fair Admissions Campaign is isolating the single issue of admissions, specifically because many people from both religious and non-religious backgrounds agree on it, and can work together in a positive way to bring about change.

Someone else mentioned discrimination against teachers. There are also wider campaigns that deal with that issue.

KatyMusic Thu 13-Jun-13 21:09:10

There is no place for any faith school in our society - religious indoctrination of infants and children is wrong at every level. Most people in this country not not actually believe in a giant fairy in the sky or anywhere else. If people stopped colluding and 'pretending' to be a christian by going to church to get their children into 'faith' schools, things would move much quicker.

Please, please, please stand up for secular education.

BayJay Thu 13-Jun-13 22:16:34

KatyMusic, lots of people might agree with you, but many others wouldn't. That's a debate that won't be resolved for a long time. The Fair Admissions Campaign has a much narrower focus, and is isolating an issue that can be resolved much more quickly.

The fact is that we do have faith schools, and lots of people would like to get their children into them for a whole host of reasons, often simply because they're their closest neighbourhood school. They should be able to access places without having to jump through hoops.

My own children go to a faith school that has 30% open admissions. Rather than being 'indoctrinated' the children are encouraged to discuss their own views in RE. It's healthy for children from the incumbent faith background to hear the views of children from other backgrounds. If parents have had to 'pretend' to be religious to get their children into faith schools, then they may also encourage their children to repress their views when they're at school, but if the children are able to talk openly about having a different perspective then it can be a positive thing for everyone.

whickles Thu 13-Jun-13 22:52:04

Another one who thinks there is no place for religious schools in modern society.
If we are stuck with religious schools then at the very least, access to them should be fair and open to all.

Endofmyfeather Thu 13-Jun-13 23:16:40

KatyMusic Maybe it's attitudes like that that make Catholic parents so against opening up admissions to the wider non-catholic community.

muminlondon Thu 13-Jun-13 23:20:56

'That's a debate that won't be resolved for a long time. '

I think that's true. But with the pace of academy conversion, we may reach a point when voluntary aided schools start to outnumber community schools within the category of maintained schools. These are the only schools to which the national curriculum and rules on qualified teachers and salaries, etc. apply. Academy schools aren't even recognised as legal entities - unlike the trust or chain that controls them. So many parents would still prefer the stability of voluntary aided schools to academies operated by underperforming or overcontrolling chains, perhaps hit by financial problems that may lead to closures, with a curriculum that is experimental or more vocational. As maintained schools VA schools are therefore more similar to community schools in terms of structure, governance, standards, programme of study.

buffyajp Sun 16-Jun-13 15:08:44

KatyMusics post has just demonstrated beautifully that intolerance and bigotry is not exclusive to people of faith but alive and well in atheists too.

BayJay Mon 17-Jun-13 13:18:57

buffy, you're quite right that intolerance isn't confined to any particular group. If KatyMusic made that comment in a room full of people who shared her view then it would go unchallenged, but in a mixed environment like this it doesn't. That is why the best way to keep intolerance of all types to a minimum is to get children from different backgrounds mixing at school.

AbbyR1973 Mon 17-Jun-13 14:26:15

Katymusic actually the 2011 census shows that 75% of people do believe in your words "a giant fairy in the sky" in one form or another. Only 25% of people on that census said they had no religion. Whilst I wouldn't describe myself as having a strong affiliation religion, I believe that people have a right to have a faith (or not) as a personal choice and why shouldn't they therefore teach their children about their faith. Most children grow up developing their own beliefs and making their own choices regarding faith no matter what they are taught at school it elsewhere. You have a perfect right to be an atheist but you don't have a right insult other people's beliefs.

thesecretmusicteacher Mon 17-Jun-13 17:36:27

I support this campaign. I think faith schools with church attendance criteria are a bad thing.

wonderingagain Mon 17-Jun-13 18:43:34

Religion should be left at home.
There is no reason at all for establishing religious schools. They increase segregation and children get nothing beneficial from them.

thegreylady Mon 17-Jun-13 18:53:18

My two dgs go to a CoE primary school. Neither is baptised and this has never been a problem. However anyon who started bleating about prayers in assembly or learning about Jesus in RE would, I am sure, get short shrift and be directed to the large non-faith school down the road.

BayJay Mon 17-Jun-13 21:43:34

thegreylady, I agree it's reasonable for anyone actively choosing a faith school to respect the ethos of the school (provided they do have a choice; some people don't). Most schools these days have a parental agreement, which encourages people to declare their support. However, as you say, that doesn't mean they need to share the same religion as the school, or not talk openly about their own beliefs.

wonderingagain - your views are more inline with the BHA, than the Fair Admissions Campaign. The Fair Admissions Campaign is ecumenical and is supported by religious groups, as well as by humanist groups and others.

justsstartingtothink Mon 17-Jun-13 22:50:32

I'm shocked by the hostility shown in this thread toward faith-based schools? What is wrong with encouraging children to have faith?

wonderingagain Tue 18-Jun-13 00:09:49

Nothing wrong, there is no hostility, but us non religious people think religion should be practised at home. It has no relevance to a modern education system and frequently works against it. Church is church, school is school. The two do not need to come as a package.

Lavenderloves Tue 18-Jun-13 07:53:25

It's discrimination based on faith, the sooner it's illegal the better.

justsstartingtothink Tue 18-Jun-13 08:29:25

Lavender -- is it also discriminatory to have specialist science schools? or specialist arts schools? or specialist technology schools?

wondering - "religious" people who have faith (or who try to have faith!), "practice" it everywhere, not just at home.

It might be helpful to think about why faith-based schools are often considered to be better than non-faith schools. My observation (based on an admittedly small sample) is that many faith schools receive strong "community" support by the members of the church with which they are linked -- support in terms of adults who help with reading and other programs, support in terms of "fetes" and other fundraisers, support in terms of music development opportunities, support in terms of career "role models" to speak at assemblies, etc as well as support for religious instruction, moral discussions, etc. The support comes from many members of the church, not just those who have children who attend the school.

Perhaps if "non-religious" people (to use Wondering's phrase) tried to replicate this sense of community and community support in non-faith schools, there would not be such a gap (or perceived gap) between the quality of "faith" and "non-faith" schools.

The excellent CoE school closest to me (supported by my church and one other) has a majority of Muslim pupils. Spaces are available because many people who live near the school chose to send their children to independent schools. The Muslim parents are very happy for their children to attend a CoE school and embrace the "religious" content of the assemblies and school festivals. They participate actively in church activities (without being "members" of the church) and are very supportive of the vicar, who enjoys a close pastoral relationship with the children. Many have told me they like the moral grounding the children receive at the school, even though the underlying "faith" is different from their own.

Having been educated in a country with secular state schools, I have always been impressed by the positive contributions faith-based schools make to the UK. This country would be morally weaker without them.

Lavenderloves Tue 18-Jun-13 09:45:59

Ok so where i live ALL of the schools are C of E ALL of them. Should i drive over five miles for a none faith school?

All of these schools are paid for by my council tax ( highest band) excluding the paltry ten % which are not day to day running costs.

The schools that have amazing results are in the most affluent pockets. It not the faith element that makes them better it's better gene pool, resources, interested parents.

If you go to the churches you will find a high number of pre school aged children, oddly only a couple of school aged children. Did they loose they faked it. In the three churches in our village the story is the same. This proves it's a sham. Is this the community you speak of?

Community is built around a school, not a faith, your deluded. the only thing religion does is split a community and place children into schools that do not belong. In fact religion is one of the most divisive elements of life. How many billions have died due to wars over religion?

Now just out of interest what would be your thought on means tested schools? By which i mean only parents earning over six figures. Would this be ok?
How about only white children?
Only university educated parents?
Only red hair?
Only an eight bedroom house?
Able bodied?

It's all wrong.

If you wish to practice religion do so at home, feed them whatever crap you believe, that's your perogative. School is a place for education.

Your faith excluding you from a school is a form of discrimination.

BayJay Tue 18-Jun-13 09:51:48

justsstartingtothink - there is a lot of hostility towards faith schools. There's been a little bit (not much) in this thread, but out in the community there's a lot, and its often concentrated in areas where there's a lot of competition for school places. People resent the fact that those able to access faith schools have more opportunities than others. They also resent the hoops that need to be jumped through to access the schools, and feel that they are being bribed to go to church just so they can access their local school.

Many religious people recognise that the exclusivity of faith schools is bad for their image and fuels hostility in their communities. If the schools open up to all who want to access them, then they will become less controversial. That is why some Church of England leaders, as well as other church leaders, teaching unions, political groups etc are calling on faith schools to be more open to their local communities.

People who jump in to the debate to air their views that all faith schools should become community schools have the right to do so, but that's not the intention of the Fair Admissions Campaign. There are other campaigns for that.

BayJay Tue 18-Jun-13 10:01:43

justsstartingtothink - your point about specialist science schools etc gets to the nub of the argument. Specialist science schools don't discriminate in their admissions. Anyone in their local community can go to them, including people of religious faith. Unless, of course, they are faith schools as well as specialist science schools.

Ironically, my children can't access our two nearest specialist science schools. One of them is for girls only. The other is a Catholic school.

My DH worked out that of the 49 science or engineering specialist schools in London, 21 of them were Voluntary Aided, and therefore unlikely (if they are oversubscribed) to be accessible to people who don't go to church.

BayJay Tue 18-Jun-13 10:16:57

Lavenderloves - your points about fair access are strong ones. Shame you had to go and spoil them by being offensive about other people's religious faith. People are much more likely to listen to you don't stick the boot in - you'll just get lots of defensive reactions and your sensible points will be missed.

Lavenderloves Tue 18-Jun-13 13:17:04

Sorry you found me offensive, i said you can believe whetever you believe, feed them whatever crap you believe. That crap could be any manner of religion it could also be your beliefs, views, political ideas, racism etc etc. I should have made that clear.

One mans crap is another mans crumble pie.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 18-Jun-13 13:32:43

I'm not sure anyone has linked to the Fair Admissions Campaign website yet so here it is.

Please note that this is not a campaign hostile to religion; it is supported by a wide range of people and organisations including religious ones. It simply wants all state-funded schools in England and Wales to be open equally to all children, without regard to religion or belief.

Can anyone really disagree with that?

BayJay Tue 18-Jun-13 13:32:46

Lavenderloves, whatever name you want to give it, and whatever your opinion of it, if it is taught at school (and for the forseeable future it probably will be) then it should be equally accessible to everyone in the local area who wants to have access to it.

SandWitch Tue 18-Jun-13 23:24:59

BayJay, I thought you were heavily involved in setting up a science specialist free school for 2014? Hope all is going well with that - wont your children go there?

getoffthecoffeetable Tue 18-Jun-13 23:48:10

I agree with faith schools. I can't see how you can argue that religion should be practised at home only or are you also planning on getting rid of churches as well?
I can't see how it can be argued that you paid your taxes so don't want them to go to a faith school. I also paid my taxes and I do want then to go to a faith school, as would those parents whose children attend schools and also members of that particular faith.
We live in a country where people are free to practise their faith, this goes hand in hand with schooling. If you don't agree with the faith, you don't have to send your children to a faith school, you have that choice.

muminlondon Wed 19-Jun-13 00:56:58

You mention 'want' and 'members'. The question of which religion you 'belong' to and how you prove that is complex - and applied differently.

One thing that strikes me is that Catholic schools always prioritise baptised Catholics over others - even over looked after children - irrespective of whether they go to church. Sometimes there is a higher priority for churchgoers, but not always. Yet more selective Church of England schools often prioritise 'practising' Christians without a category for mere 'baptised Christians'. A practising Catholic may still have priority at a CofE school over baptised children of Anglicans who are not churchgoers.

Elsewhere there are e.g. Muslim schools which prioritise members of certain mosques. Members of other mosques have the same chance of getting in as non-Muslims. It's worth looking more closely at admissions policies and comparing them as they vary so widely. It's already been mentioned on this thread that the Oratory is very selective and has few boys on FSM - so why does it prioritise a boy with one Catholic parent who does flower arranging (let's call him Antonio Clegg) over a boy with two Catholic parents who live closer but sometimes miss Mass because they work nights in a factory?

These are some of the issues that should be scrutinised first. Most appeals to the schools adjudicator are from people sympathetic to or believers in a faith who do not qualify on other grounds.

PointlessPost Wed 19-Jun-13 01:06:05

Nobody has even vaguely suggested getting rid of churches. shock That would be a stupid suggestion.

We pay taxes and we should be able to send our DC's to all state schools. Why exclude children for their parents religion? Nobody has suggesting stopping DCs practising their parents religion.

Maybe we should have atheist schools and ban people who are religious...

Actually, I think I might be on to something grin

It would be fun deciding what the entrance criteria would be. hmm

wonderingagain Wed 19-Jun-13 02:26:39

The thing is, God, Allah, Messiah, whoever, really wouldn't mind if one of his followers went to a school and learned nothing about religion all day. He really wouldn't.

Of course that's an educated guess...

muminlondon Wed 19-Jun-13 07:52:46

Stephen Twigg's latest speech, as reported is interesting. He said that:

'All state schools should give priority in admissions to disadvantaged children who qualify for pupil premium payments, as part of an overhaul of the admissions code for maintained schools'.

That would be a really good way of making sure faith schools are not socially selective - faith schools would either have to prioritise any child on FSM who wants a place, or have a quota of community places open to all but prioritised on distance. Either, way, it would be fairer. Church schools were originally set up for the poor - not to be some sort of alternative grammar school for the middle classes.

wonderingagain Wed 19-Jun-13 09:05:15

Yes that might work, is Steven Twigg still in government, I thought he left politics when he lost his seat, sulking? Glad he's back if he has good ideas like this.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 19-Jun-13 09:45:03

>you don't have to send your children to a faith school, you have that choice.
Not necessarily. Certainly not if you want one even vaguely local if you live in many rural areas. I have no idea how kids in my village would get to a non-faith primary school if their parents didn't have a car.

BayJay Wed 19-Jun-13 09:47:59

SandWitch - yes, I'm one of a group involved in setting up a new community free school with a science specialism in our local area. It's something that's developed out of discussions like this one, and will help to relieve some pressure in our local area, but certainly doesn't change any of the arguments for schools having open admissions. There will still be people on the edge of the new school's catchment area who won't be able to access a science specialism because their local school only admits children of one religion.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 19-Jun-13 09:48:47

>Maybe we should have atheist schools and ban people who are religious...
>Actually, I think I might be on to something

not really, because what 'atheist' organisations exist tend to be in favour of secularism which means no privilege, no discrimination in any direction. They tend to be in favour of inclusivity and not labelling children. I would never have sent my child to an 'atheist' school!

justsstartingtothink Wed 19-Jun-13 09:58:10

Pointless -- "atheist" schools already exist. All non-faith schools are "atheist".

Lavender -- my observation about "community" is not with regard to the parents of children at the school; it's with regard to the support (some) faith schools receive from the community of the church with which the school is affiliated. Not all -- in fact not most -- of the members or attendees of the churches I know that have affiliated schools are parents or would-be parents of school children. They are individuals who have faith -- or wish to have faith -- and/or who enjoy the music, ritual and support found in church services. (As an aside, I do find your language unnecessarily hostile and offensive. I'm sure no one on this thread "feeds their children crap".)

My question was -- and still is -- what is it about "faith schools" (in particular CoE schools) that makes them so "good"? My hypothesis was -- and still is -- that perhaps the schools are good because they benefit from the support they receive from the local church -- church members (not parents) who devote time to help at assemblies, to read with children, to help with school fairs and celebrations, etc. Perhaps if that level of community support were replicated in non-faith schools (as it undoubtedly is in many cases!), there would not be such a divide, or perception of divide, in the quality of faith and non-faith schools. It could also be that faith-schools put a stronger emphasis on moral education and discipline, both of which are conducive to good education. It is important to think carefully about what distinguishes faith schools from non-faith schools because if you seek to eliminate them without first identifying and replicating what makes them "good", the overall quality of education in this country is likely to suffer. (The Muslim families who I mentioned above as parents of children at my local CoE school, chose the school because it is good and actively encourage and support their children's participation in the "C" aspects of the school because they appreciate the moral teachings, the discipline and, yes, the emphasis on faith).

To the broader question of whether state schools that are also "faith" schools should be required to have an open admissions policy: If faith schools were "open", would it be on the understanding that parents who send their children to the school, regardless of their own faith, are happy for the children to receive a faith-based education? Or would the movement seek effectively to terminate faith schools altogether? If the latter, then there would, of course, be cost implications for the state -- presumably the state would need to acquire the church-owned buildings or pay rent for them and would have to absorb the costs of the financial contributions currently made by the church (whatever that is) and somehow absorb the pastoral care roles currently provided by the church --- none of which is impossible, but those who advocate the termination of faith schools should think carefully about all the implications.

BayJay Wed 19-Jun-13 10:16:45

Juststartingtothink: " If faith schools were "open", would it be on the understanding that parents who send their children to the school, regardless of their own faith"

Yes, as I said in an earlier post, most schools these days have Home-School agreements, which encourage parents to declare their support for the school's ethos. If people are actively choosing faith schools, for whatever reason, then of course they should support the ethos of the school. (If they have no choice, then it's a bit different, as they may not wish to sign the agreement, but that's still no excuse for not letting them in).

"what is it about "faith schools" (in particular CoE schools) that makes them so "good"?"

There are many good faith schools and many good community schools. Each one is good for a different combination of reasons - to do with the calibre of the Headteacher, staff, and support from the parent and wider community (in some cases the church community).

If something is 'good', then it should be shared. That's why many religious people are supporting the Fair Admissions Campaign.

justsstartingtothink Wed 19-Jun-13 10:22:39

Interesting observations, BayJay. Thank you!

BayJay Wed 19-Jun-13 10:52:52

"Juststartingtothink: "All non-faith schools are "atheist""

That's not true. Community schools are for the whole community, including people of faith. It's wrong to call them "non-faith schools". They are schools where people of all faiths and none are respected and encouraged to get along with each other.

justsstartingtothink Wed 19-Jun-13 11:41:54

BayJay -- If some schools are "faith" schools, then the others must be "non-faith", mustn't they? It doesn't mean that "non-faith" schools don't respect and encourage people of faith (just like "faith" schools should respect and encourage people who don't have faith). Perhaps the correct terms are "faith-based" and "non-faith-based" as the point of CoE and other faith schools is, I think, that their ethos-es (or "ethoi", as I've just learned is the correct plural of ethos!) are based on a particular faith. I do think it's correct to say "non-faith-based" schools are "atheist" because, by definition, they do not include faith in God in the ethos of the school. I don't mean the term pejoratively.

PointlessPost Wed 19-Jun-13 11:58:59

I think it was clear that I meant atheist schools EXCLUSIVELY for athiests. Ones where all the religeous students would be excluded. I did not mean community schools.

Yes it is a ridiculous idea but no more ridiculous, in my eyes, as religeous schools that exclude children because of their parents views.

All schools should be secular.

BayJay Wed 19-Jun-13 11:59:06

"If some schools are "faith" schools, then the others must be "non-faith", mustn't they?"

No. Schools are either for the whole community (the "community schools") or for a sub-section of the community (the "faith schools").

All community schools in this country are required to hold a daily act of worship broadly in the Christian tradition - there's a whole separate debate about the rights and wrongs of that, and the extent to which it is ignored (basically it depends on the Headteacher's views). Many community schools also have prayer rooms, or multi-faith rooms, where students who want to practice their faith during school time can do so. Their ethos is one of community tolerance and respect, not "non-faith". RE lessons in community schools teach children about different faiths and encourage them to discuss their own beliefs. The same is true of RE lessons in many faith schools. The difference is that in a community school the voices contributing to those discussions are more varied.

PointlessPost Wed 19-Jun-13 12:02:08

I don't like grammar schools either.

(And before anyone asks, YES my DCs have been given spots at grammar schools so it is not about me being bitter)

justsstartingtothink Wed 19-Jun-13 12:19:56

Thank you, yet again, BayJay, for a helpful and informative post.
(Clearly, I still have a lot to learn about this country, though I've lived here for a very long time!)

wonderingagain Wed 19-Jun-13 12:21:31

There's a difference between being a
"non-faith" school
and a
non "faith school"

a non faith school is just a school.

Phineyj Wed 19-Jun-13 12:45:26

Here are our choices in our part of outer London:

1. Take a chance that DD will get into our nearest school, which is a community school. The school is at the end of our road, but I put her chances at about 50% given the massively increasing birthrate and the volume of construction of new housing.
2. Pretend that we have religious faith over an extended period of time, to increase DD's chances of getting into the next nearest schools, which are CofE. That would mean going to church without DH, as he wouldn't be prepared to pretend. We would also (presumably) have to have a christening, at which we would have to lie about our lack of belief and ask two friends to similarly lie about their lack of belief. What a great example we would be setting DD!
3. Pay for a private primary. Even if used as a back up option that means being prepared to pay one term's fees.
4. Move house (ironically we live in an area to which people move because the schools are good).

A significant number of children locally are not getting a reception place at all, or not until after the term has started. As a teacher myself potentially I could have to leave my job if DD is allocated a place on the opposite side of the borough or not allocated one at all.

I will be supporting the campaign and also joining the BHA one, but unfortunately as others have said the more pressing problem is the lack of school places. I don't know why LAs can't require developers to make provision for schools -- didn't Section 64 cover that back in the day? When did that change?

GrimmaTheNome Wed 19-Jun-13 17:55:02

> "atheist" schools already exist. All non-faith schools are "atheist".
Completely untrue. There aren't even many properly secular ones (please do not conflate 'atheist' and 'secular') though a few headteachers manage to come reasonably close to this ideal. Most 'non-faith' state primaries still persist in the subtle indoctrination of there being a creator god. And (LEA controlled ones anyway) follow the SACRE for balance religious education - which is generally a good thing but most curricula miss out much mention of non-theistic worldviews. So, even in the 'non-faith' schools its still largely weighted in favour of the theists.

One battle at a time!

wonderingagain Wed 19-Jun-13 21:41:14

Phiney I think the government has ripped up the planning rules and are now making it up as they are going along. Get Boris onto it. Issues to do with London schools tend to be better dealt with by the GLA - they set up the pan london admissions system helped co-ordinate things across councils. Also, Boris won't be afraid of upsetting the God Squad where others might be more deferential.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Wed 19-Jun-13 22:11:51

I'd be interested in getting Boris to do some work, but how?

Whilst not the most pressing issue wrt faith schools, we live in a rural area with about 50% of village schools being CofE. I want DD to go to her local school, but as we do not follow a faith, I do not want her to go to a CofE school. I do not agree with the inclusion of faith representatives on the governing body of such schools and if she went to the village CofE school I think it would be difficult to object to significant faith based activities as I would have "chosen" to send her there. Therefore we had to rule out those villages when choosing where to live.

If there isn't really a choice about school, the school should not be a faith school.

wonderingagain Wed 19-Jun-13 23:20:06

Contact your London Assembly member, make them do some work!

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Thu 20-Jun-13 10:41:44

cheers wondering

Pyrrah Thu 20-Jun-13 15:25:51

Drives me crazy when people think that morals = religious. I certainly don't need the idea of Big Brother watching to make me behaved in a civilised manner. IIRC, atheists are the smallest category in prisons, and certainly in the USA, born-again Xtians have the highest divorce rates.

Where I live in Central London, there are 6 schools that are reasonably close. Two are CofE, two are RC and two are community schools. There is no chance of getting a place at the CofE or RC schools unless you are baptised and practising - they take children from outside the local area and there are no distance allocated places left. With the two community schools, one we are 250m outside the 'last distance offered' and we scrapped into the other by 20 metres (and it's not even a school I would actively choose to send DD to).

They're currently building a new development of 120 units - most of which are designated 'family homes' - next door to the school we got a place at. As of next year, no-one in my street will get a local school unless they are religious, and I have no idea how far they will have to travel as all the schools in this area are oversubscribed.

Given that this is an area of central London with a shortage of spaces, there isn't much hope of getting another school nearby either as they are also over-subscribed. We're on the waiting list for one of them - number 52 as of last week.

I'm sure that councils could carry out some form of compulsory rental of church school properties. I very much doubt the churches will want to taken on 100% of costs for a lot of empty buildings and so I imagine they would settle for very little.

In many areas it's not a case of wanting a place at the faith school because of the yummy mummies and amazing Ofsted, it's a case of not wanting your child to spend an hour every day travelling to a school that no-one wants, thus excluding the child from their local area, local friends and making family life much more complicated.

If the churches wish to run their schools on a discriminatory basis then they should contribute financially accordingly - a school that takes 50% of children based on faith should pay 50% of the costs, a school that takes 90% should pay 90% and so on. If that is unaffordable then they should open their doors to all.

mam29 Fri 21-Jun-13 01:05:31

My daughter started at local rc school, approx 50/50 maybe even 40%rc takes kids from wide area.

For some reason daughters year 2006 born was undersubscribed by 3 had good ofsted at time.

We coe but the 3nearest coe schools were too far away for us to get in and controlled by council lea.

Worked on distance and they were oversubscribed so we realised we stood no chance of coe school.

so eldest went catholic had to submit baptism certificate,

The nearby really welly performing infant/junior 10mins from house less than 1/2mile we stood no chance getting in.

So rc seemedonly optionas nearest community primary was dreadful.

Eventually we did get place year 2 at nearby coe school.

but as im far away i have no sibling link for younger 2 and we cant afford to move.

so we bit stuck.

Im fully aware my church attendance needs to improve as want to sed mine to faith seniors which requires 3years regular church attendance so 3times per month hubby works retail so works weekends and controlling 2 toddlers is difficuly one nativity middle child ran of with baby jesus!

All 3 are baptised but no help with getting them all place at sae primary.

Poor people can go church they cant afford to live in affleunt area near best performing comunity school so think faith as to be more fair than wealth.

Both the rc and coe school had kids of other faiths
learnt about other faiths.

have frends at neary community school anti fath annoyed the school doing so much christian stuff.

at rc school it had high esl due to polish intake.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 21-Jun-13 09:10:20

>Poor people can go church
often not so easily as rich people though, and not if they're the 'wrong' faith or none. The original church schools were meant to serve the children of the poor in the parish - it might be good if they could come up with some way of really doing that instead of by church attendance which is self-serving. Discriminating against the children whose parents can't for whatever reason play the game seems pretty unchristian to me.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Fri 21-Jun-13 10:19:54

We have had single parents turn up to church with very ill children with chicken pox. The parents had to attend or their child would be unlikely to get a school place anywhere local. They had no one to leave the children with.

We have nurses who could attend when church criteria was one sunday in four, but not now it's one in two. They work.

BayJay Fri 21-Jun-13 12:45:29

"Both the rc and coe school had kids of other faiths"

Mam29, that is good, but its only the case because they were either under-subscribed by Catholics (in the case of the RC one) or had a percentage of open admissions (in the case of the oversubscribed CE one).

Many Church of England schools already have a proportion of open admissions, and they're moving in the direction of more open admissions. All new faith academies must have no more than 50% of places allocated on the basis of religious practice, and some are 100% open. The Diocese of London has said it is encouraging its existing schools to move in that direction too. The Fair Admissions Campaign is therefore pushing at a partially open door as far as the Church of England is concerned.

The Catholic Education Service takes a different view, and will always prioritise places for Catholic children above others (even when that means excluding siblings of non-Catholic children). However, even they are obliged by law to offer surplus places to non-Catholics, so if they're under-subscribed by Catholics then others will be able to access places. Latest figures from the Catholic Education Service show "almost 20% of [RC] schools had more than half non-Catholic pupils". Of course it's not clear how many of those non-catholic families would have preferred a community school if they'd been given the option.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 21-Jun-13 13:58:14

Its really good news that the Diocese of London is moving towards fairer admissions. smile

wonderingagain Sat 22-Jun-13 11:31:41

Rules must change in London in particular. Interesting that c of e base their admissions points on how long a family has been on the electoral roll. Great solution for excluding all those recently annexed Eastern Euro countries.

I do wish someone had the balls to tackle the segregation by stealth that currently exists. The government has all the powers to do this by setting rules based on social inclusion and aking all admissions rules focus on that. Until we do this we are actively encouraging segregation and inequality. How is that defensible in 2013?

wonderingagain Sat 22-Jun-13 11:32:58

And it's the last thing Jesus would have wanted.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Sat 22-Jun-13 18:23:32

Ah but wonderingagain "suffer the little children to come unto me once their parents have attended church for 40 weeks a year, for not less than two years before the date of application"

wonderingagain Sun 23-Jun-13 00:33:15

grin Lol Greeneggs!

It seems to have gone quiet since I mentioned Jesus.

BayJay Sun 23-Jun-13 08:44:29

Wonderingagain, the Fair Admissions Campaign is supported by religious people as well as non-religious people, for exactly that reason. Here is what the Christian think-tank Ekklesia have to say on the subject:

gruffalocake Sun 23-Jun-13 08:59:04

Few thoughts...

1) the problem people have with faith schools is that they are often better than the other options available. Wouldn't it be better to improve secular school options instead of all this vitriol? I don't think this conversation would be happening if faith schools were primarily sink schools.

2) I like how pps have said 'we are a multi faith society therefore we should abolish all faith schools' do you see the irony? Secular schools are not a neutral thing they are a different option. People of faith should have as much access to schooling appropriate for them as anybody else.

3) it might be worth thinking about why faith schools often do better than non faith schools to the extent that atheists want to send their children there. Might the ethos have something to do with it?

BayJay Sun 23-Jun-13 11:00:43

Gruffalocake, others have made the same point, so suggest you look back at the answers.

There are many good community schools too, and in some areas an undersupply of community places, so the reasons why people want to open up faith school admissions are many and varied.

As I said previously, if something is 'good' then it should be shared. If it is fundamentally good (rather than simply 'exclusive') then its ethos won't be undermined by sharing it with people who go to church less often. You'll probably find many atheists won't be interested in the places if they have a choice. It will be the agnostics and non-church-going believers who will benefit most if admissions are opened up.

flatmum Sun 23-Jun-13 11:05:55

Completly agree with this, its disgusting. why is a child, who may grow up to be a priest or a vicar or the bloody pope be discriminated against just because his mother happens to be an atheist. If I opened a free school and disallowed anyone with parents who go to church from applying there would be an outcry. And quite rightly so. The sooner this discriminatory and archaic practice is outlawed the better (in a country with less that 10 per cent church attendance, how is it justifiable!)

CecilyP Sun 23-Jun-13 12:36:59

gruffalocake, have you read this thread? Your points have been pretty much dealt with already. The proposal is not about abolishing all faith schools but making admissions fairer. People of faith currently have far more access to schools than others in that they can opt for a faith school if that is their preferred option, but if there is another better non-faith option, there is nothing to stop them from going for that instead. I doubt if atheists particularly want to send their children to faith schools; I think BayJay has really hit the nail on the head with, 'it will be the agnostics and non-church-going believers who will benefit most if admissions are opened up.

Pyrrah Sun 23-Jun-13 13:04:12

As an atheist, I do not wish to send my child to a faith school - and if I was forced to by dint of it being the only school the council gave me a place at, I would be having a fit at the slightest attempt of indoctrination.

What I do want is to have a real choice of 6 local schools, not find that my child is automatically excluded for applying for 4 schools that my taxes go towards funding, thus leaving me with a very real chance that she could be sent to a sink school miles away.

The idea that religious ethos = good morals is frankly a joke looking at all the poor children who have been beaten and buggered at faith schools. Not that it doesn't happen in non faith schools, but claiming the moral high ground is a bit rich.

It is the covert selection which leads to some faith schools having better results and being more desireable, not the praying.

BayJay Sun 23-Jun-13 14:57:11

Pyrrah, as you said, abuse can happen at any type of school. In the past most schools for the poor and vulnerable were church schools so its tragic, but possibly not surprising if those types of school hid a lot of horror stories.

GrimmaTheNome Sun 23-Jun-13 16:55:35

Gruffalo, if you live in an area like mine (rural) there's basically a choice of good faith schools and not so good faith schools, or having to travel quite a distance. So people have to play the game simply in order to not end up with their child at a poor faith school or a school way away from their local community.

>Secular schools are not a neutral thing
yes they are - that's exactly what they are (or would be, if they actually existed!). Secularism is not anti-religious. It is merely 'no privilege, no discrimination' - and no indoctrination in any direction.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Sun 23-Jun-13 21:42:28

grimma I could have written your first paragraph only replaced central London with the rural. The problem must be very wide spread.

LizzyDay Sun 23-Jun-13 22:53:11

Gruffalo - "3) it might be worth thinking about why faith schools often do better than non faith schools to the extent that atheists want to send their children there. Might the ethos have something to do with it?"

Probably not - as others have said it's much more likely to be something to do with middle-class selection by stealth in areas where school places are at a premium.

As a matter of interest though, would you be in favour of state-funded faith schools of all flavours opening up in your local area? For it to be fair, major faiths would have to be represented in each area of course - maybe Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Catholic, C of E, Sikh, Evangelicals, Jehovah's Witnesses? And if they did, would you not feel a leetle bit pissed off if all your nearest ones were not of 'your' religion and rejected your children because you didn't subscribe to their beliefs and attend their places of worship, leaving you to travel miles to a school which deigned to let your child in despite their being a 'child of a heathen / person of the wrong religion'?

whickles Mon 24-Jun-13 09:35:05

Totally agree that, if we are stuck with faith schools, then access should be much, much fairer.

Farewelltoarms Mon 24-Jun-13 10:13:04

Yes Whickles, I think that's what is genius about this campaign. It's not asking to get rid of faith schools (although obviously there's an argument for this), it's asking them to open up their admissions. I think it's much harder for anyone to argue against this in a convincing way. Certainly nothing on this thread has done so.

There are plenty of faith schools that don't perform as highly as community schools, so the argument that somehow their 'ethos' promotes achievement is a nonsense. If you eliminate some of the harder to reach pupils (recent refugees, those from chaotic families etc) then it's not surprising that the academic achievement is higher. If the admissions were opened up fully (or at least 50% open places would be a start), then the results might prove this to be true.

muminlondon Mon 24-Jun-13 20:08:59

It's unfair that community schools are under such pressure to take on more classes and more children in each class:

I was thinking that there should be a financial incentive - where church schools open up admissions and/or expand the number of community places the government could waive the VAT they are meant to pay on building costs which can also be expensive for LAs. But many voluntary aided schools have converted to academy status (248 primary schools and 169 secondary schools) which means they get 100% of capital costs funded by the state. So no more VAT problem yet no equal access or advantage for the wider community.

Yet they are NOT subject to the 50% cap on faith admissions and many have the most selective admissions of all (Cardinal Vaughan, the Oratory, etc). And because they are not maintained schools the LA cannot even ask them to expand. This is a real scandal and the next government must close that loophole as quickly as possible.

HappyHugs Mon 24-Jun-13 21:49:29

My children attend a Catholic school in Northrtn Ireland. We loosely practice, attend mass infrequently. The school criteria does not mention religion at any point. Criteria ia roughly 1, siblings, 2, first borns, 3 identufied radius x, identified radius y. In case of over-subscription randomised alphabetical surname e.g j, k, a...which is provided to prospective parents pre-application. The school is outstanding, massively over-subscribed and attracts non catholics because of this. Everyone accepts the Catholic ethos and in return get a first class school.

My point is that if i, or my neighbours, choose this faith school for reasons other than faith (geography, quality, whatever) then we are accepting that ethos but are not obliged to follow it ( or even pretend to, there's practising muslim children in this school) I wonder would this approach be more acceptable in the rest of the UK?

BayJay Mon 24-Jun-13 22:28:17

Sounds good HappyHugs. Very different to here! Which Diocese is it? (if you're able to say without identifying the school)

HappyHugs Mon 24-Jun-13 22:35:47

Down and Connor Bayjay.

BayJay Mon 24-Jun-13 23:08:23

An admissions policy like that wouldn't be allowed here in England or Wales. This is the national policy of the Catholic Education Service (see pg 14):

"To ensure that Catholic children are given priority in the allocation of school places and benefit from this provision, the admission criteria of Catholic schools should be formulated in such a way that Catholic children and young people are always given priority in the allocation of school places over and above all other applicants: “A Catholic school is never simply a school for those who choose it. A Catholic school is always, first of all, a school for Catholics. Of course, others who seek a place at the school are most welcome as long as space permits. They are fully part of the school community and greatly treasured."

HappyHugs Mon 24-Jun-13 23:27:04

But if legislative changes required it then thry would surely have to change their policy. Isn't it peculiar that the only part of the uk where evidence of religious persuasion is not required is NI?

BayJay Tue 25-Jun-13 06:49:26

"But if legislative changes required it ..."

Yes, I think it demonstrates why the current Coalition policy to "facilitate inclusive admissions in as many of these schools as possible" isn't enough. If its not going to happen voluntarily then it will need legislation changes. They won't be easy, but if politicians start to realise that popular opinion is behind groups like the Fair Admissions Campaign, it's a step in the right direction.

All the militant ant-faith language that sometimes surfaces when the subject is discussed, and the defensive reaction to that, doesn't help because it muddies the waters and scares the politicians away from what is otherwise a popular and worthy cause. If change is going to happen it needs to be handled sensitively and respectfully.

BayJay Tue 25-Jun-13 06:55:22

By the way, research conducted for the OECD looked at 32 countries and found only 4 that apply religious selection in schools: England (& Wales), Estonia, Ireland and Israel.

ithaka Tue 25-Jun-13 07:01:14

What Would Jesus Do? I suspect he would want all children to have access to brilliant education & wouldn't give a toot about their faith. But obviously the catholic church knows better...

BayJay Tue 25-Jun-13 10:19:12

Ithaka, I think its fair to say the main motivation of the Catholic Education Service in having that policy is to ensure that there are enough places in Catholic Schools for all the Catholic children that want them. However, it does represent a privileged position over everyone else. There's no equivalent means of making sure that there are enough schools with a Science specialism / Outstanding Drama department / Fantastic sports facilities / [substitute your own preference here] for all who want them, and it would be chaos if such a mechanism was introduced. The Free School policy does go some way in that direction, but has been very controversial and certainly can't satisfy everyone.

I think if the Catholic Education Service used the Free School policy to create new schools in fair competition with other groups then that would be fair enough, but they've rejected the idea on the grounds that it would tie them to 50:50 admissions.

flatmum Tue 25-Jun-13 11:44:33

Ithaka: quite. And at what age do we determine the faith of young children below the age of voting. Surely Jesus would want to encourage young children into the fold rather than writing them off at age 5 before they are mature enough to decide what they believe in just because their parents ended up not bel

flatmum Tue 25-Jun-13 11:46:04

onging to an organised religion

BayJay Tue 25-Jun-13 12:30:10

Just adding to my last post to say that there are parent and teacher groups that are setting up Catholic free schools, with 50:50 admissions, so it can be done, but when its the Catholic Church authorities that are setting up new schools they insist on the traditional Voluntary Aided model that gives them up to 100% Catholic admissions.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 25-Jun-13 16:11:27

> for all the Catholic children that want them
(or rather, for all the children of Catholic parents who want them <nitpick>)

lalalonglegs Tue 25-Jun-13 16:16:39

To be honest, BayJay, I feel even 50-50 admissions are unfair, particularly in a free school which will be completely funded by the taxpayer - ie, the Church will not be able to say that i donated the land/has maintenance costs etc. Clearly, basing school admissions on faith is pretty insidious and I can't understand for a moment why this government - or any other - is allowing more schools to open on this basis.

LizzyDay Tue 25-Jun-13 16:26:08

It's not just unfair, it's downright discriminatory and should be illegal. No other publicly funded service would be run in this way.

But it seems that because of the monolith that is the religious establishment currently in place, the 50:50 'concession' is all they are likely to make anytime soon.

it's bad enough that the 'old' system worked this way, but it is a scandal that new schools are being opened up and allowed to follow suit - it's blatantly obvious that the faith groups are motivated by the desire for political power and influence and not an interest in children or teaching.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 25-Jun-13 18:05:17

As someone mentioned schools in Northern Ireland, I thought people might be interested to see wha t Barack Obama had to say about them on his recent visit. This particular section of his speech doesn't seem to have been widely reported in the media (at least in GB, maybe has been in NI?).

This is of course one of the reasons for wanting fair admissions. There are schools in mainland GB which are also hugely racially segregated because of the religious selection, with predictable results for community cohesion.

HappyHugs Tue 25-Jun-13 19:27:10

Actually Obama's statement was widely reported in NI and raised some controversy. However he didn't actually pin his colours to the mast and go all out for integrated education (because, I imagine, that's not what the Stormont Assembly is saying either and he didn't want to go against their position). In NI the choice is State school (Protestant by default), Catholic or Integrated. I have 2 integrated schools within reach, I'd happily have chosen either were I convinced of the quality. I would probably not have shosen a 'state' school even if quality was better because the ethos, in my experience from friends' children (and pre school for one of my own), is british rather than irish. I want my children to have a sense of their Irishness, play gaelic sports, learn irish/Irish history/culture. A lot of people choose a Catholic school not because they identify themselves as particularly devoted Catholics, but because they identify themselves as Irish and these are the schools that do this best.

However, and here's the rub - if the catholic church removes academic selection for secondary level (currently splitting kids to secondary or grammar at 11+) which it is already starting to do, I can forsee droves of catholic families happily leaving the faith schools for the 'state' grammars. Quality will override 'faith' (or national identity) I am sure. Principles only stretch so far ;)

GrimmaTheNome Tue 25-Jun-13 19:52:46

Its certainly a pity if the NI state schools are 'british' to the exclusion of being irish and celebrating Irish culture. Maybe a good aim would be integrated schools which could be Irish as you describe (but without excluding wider UK culture too)? Interesting diversion smile

HappyHugs Tue 25-Jun-13 20:55:01

To be fair Grimma I think that's exactly what the integrated schools offer. Anyway, that was, as you say, a diversion. Hijacking thread no longer, let the faith debate resume!

wonderingagain Wed 26-Jun-13 17:04:06

Happyhugs your post brilliantly explains the reasons why inclusive education is a goal we must all strive for.

We have moved forwards leaps and bounds to get disabled children in schools - the vast majority of them were in segregated education only 20 years ago. This has completely changed because the disability movement FORCED government to change policy so that it is now illegal to discriminate and that social, racial and disabled people are all included.

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

Happyhugs - ALL schools should do gaelic sports, learn about Irish history etc. It is outrageous that parents won't send their children to schools because they are too British, too Irish, too White, to Black, too Special, too neurotypical. All schools should be all things to all children. They do it everywhere else, why can't they do it in this country?

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.

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?"

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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."

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 22:52:20

"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?

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.

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 23:19:07

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.

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.

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.)

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.)

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.

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.

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?

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.


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.

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.

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