Does a'looked after' child always legally get to the top of the admission criteria for primary school?

(93 Posts)
Hellokittycat Mon 21-Apr-14 14:06:00

I understood that they did.
Have seen a faith schools admission policy that puts looked after children of faith, all other children of faith, non faith looked after children and then non faith other children as the order
Just wondering if this sits in with the legal requirements... Does anyone know?

FamiliesShareGerms Mon 21-Apr-14 14:12:08

There's a thread running over in the adoptions board now on a very similar issue.

As far as I'm aware it's right to the top of the list.

HanSolo Mon 21-Apr-14 14:17:28

Faith schools can prioritise LAC of faith over LAC not of faith, however, I do not know whether LAC not of faith get priority over other children of faith. Perhaps ask your LA admissions dept for advice? (However they will be very busy at preset, so unless this applies to this Sept's admissions, I'd leave it a few weeks before enquiring) smile

Kewcumber Mon 21-Apr-14 14:42:09

Our local faith school not only prioritises LAC of that faith over all other LAC but ALSO prioristises children within the faith practising within the parish over practising LAC outside the parish. Saves pesky LAC coming in willy nilly and draggin standards down hmm And they like to claim their results are because they are a religious school rather than because of of the costs of living within the parish providing a handy selection criteria.

I beleive faith schools can set their own admissions criteria - its why its a scandal that they are funded by the state.

Would love to see this policy operated by a hospital!

2468Motorway Mon 21-Apr-14 14:42:34

Faith schools often have

LAC of faith
Sibs of faith
Nearest faith
LAC of no or other faith
Nearest other children

It's not good as most faith schools rarely get past the 3rd one.

They could if they wanted to put all LAC at the top but they often don't.

tiggytape Mon 21-Apr-14 14:48:56

The admissions code says:

Admission authorities for faith schools may give priority to all looked after children and previously looked after children whether or not of the faith, but they must give priority to looked after children and previously looked after children of the faith before other children of the faith. *Where any element of priority is given in relation to children not of the faith they must give priority to looked after children and previously looked after children not of the faith above other children not of the
faith*

Which does seem odd to most because, apart from selective schools where a child does not pass the minimum mark on the 11+, all other schools must give priority to looked after children and those adopted from care. Even grammar schools must give priority if the child meets the pass mark but is still too low scoring to normally get an offer.

In normal admissions, LAC MUST get priority
In fairbanding schools, LAC MUST get priority
In random lottery schools, LAC MUST get priority
In 6th forms, LAC MUST get priority
In state boarding schools, LAC MUST get priority
In faith schools however they can give priority to children of the faith above LAC not of the faith if that is in line with how they admit all children.

tiggytape Mon 21-Apr-14 14:50:55

Sorry messed up quote. This is the relevant law about LAC and faith schools (Admissions Code 2012):

Admission authorities for faith schools may give priority to all looked after children and previously looked after children whether or not of the faith, but they must give priority to looked after children and previously looked after children of the faith before other children of the faith. Where any element of priority is given in relation to children not of the faith they must give priority to looked after children and previously looked after children not of the faith above other children not of the faith

prh47bridge Mon 21-Apr-14 18:10:13

Kewcumber - The admission criteria you describe sound like a clear breach of the Admissions Code to me. LAC children of the faith must always come ahead of all other children of the faith. They cannot prioritise non-LAC children of the faith within the parish over out of parish LAC children of the faith. If the admission criteria are as you describe please refer this school to the Schools Adjudicator. If there is any doubt I would be happy to take a look at the school's criteria and give an opinion if you PM me with the name of the school and the LA.

Just for clarity, it is not the case that all faith schools set their own admission criteria. It depends whether it is a VA school (which can) or a VC school (which cannot). Academies and free schools can also set their own admission criteria. Any school that has the right to set its own admission criteria is still required to comply with the Admissions Code which seriously restricts what they can do.

ReallyTired Mon 21-Apr-14 19:09:58

Invariably its catholic schools which insist on not prioritising faith. Practicing catholic LAC children are non existance. The type of parent who has their kids taken into care is not going to be arsed to attend church each week and manage to get their child baptised before six months of age.

I believe that Jesus would have been disgusted.

tiggytape Mon 21-Apr-14 19:15:53

ReallyTired, a child in foster care would count as a LAC. It is possible they may attend church with their foster family (even if the foster carers are not religious) if the birth family request this and it has been part of the child's upbringing to date.
Foster carers are expected to respect a child's heritage and background and continue religious worship where it is an important part of the child's life previously. In such cases a place at a Catholic school may form the ideal bridge between the child's former home and their current situation.

Children adopted from care also come under the LAC criteria in school admissions and of course Catholic parents, as well as many of other faiths and no faiths, adopt children. Again, these children would be counted as both Catholic and also come under the LAC category for the purposes of school admissions.

tiggytape Mon 21-Apr-14 19:20:02

I would also say that you generalisation about what leads children into care is ill informed at best. Unfortunately any family can fall apart given the right (well wrong) set of circumstances. Up until that point it is perfectly possible that the child has been baptised and attended church their whole life.

allmixedupreally Mon 21-Apr-14 20:26:48

In theory yes as many have suggested, however in practice this is not the case as historically many looked after children attended the worst performing schools. Things are slowly changing but I don't think it as as straightforward as the admissions criteria suggests. Otherwise the majority of looked after children would now mainly be in the top performing schools. Carers, Social Services and foster carers need to work together to ensure that this happens.
However which ever school the child is at there should be a designated teacher in post who is responsible for ensuring that the LAC educational needs are met. webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130401151715/https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/01046-2009BKT-EN.PDF

2468Motorway Mon 21-Apr-14 21:10:26

Tiggy

I agree its best not to generalise and there are many reasons children end up in care. However the faith schools closest to me stipulate practising is defined by baptism before 6 months and 18 months to 2yrs attendance at a particular church (or in another case one of 2 churches). We live in a small town so its likely a LAC would not have been raised here but anywhere across the county.

It makes it a very high bar for a child in care or previously looked after to reach.

ReallyTired Mon 21-Apr-14 22:17:58

I imagine it would be next to impossible for a LAC child to produce a baptism certificate even if they have been baptised by their birth family before six months. Even families without any problems often mislay baptism certificates in a well planned move. I expect that its a low priority for a social worker to get hold of a LAC child's baptism certificate.

2468Motorway Even faith schools can be ordered to make a place for a particular child under the fair access protocal. A fairly high proportion of LAC children (by no means all) have a statement so its possible to force a faith school to give a place to a LAC child as a statemented child.

"Otherwise the majority of looked after children would now mainly be in the top performing schools. Carers, Social Services and foster carers need to work together to ensure that this happens"

I believe that in my LEA there is a rule that LAC children must attend a school rated at least "good" by OFSTED.

Why can't faith schools just give all LAC children priority? Surely that would be in line with christian teaching? Otherwise faith schools become exclusive little clubs.

AngelEyes46 Mon 21-Apr-14 22:52:18

My dd's school states the following:

1. Looked After and previously Looked After Baptised Catholic Girls; non-Catholic Looked AfterGirls in the care of practising Catholic families; previously Looked After Baptised Catholic Girls who have been adopted.
2. Baptised Catholic Girls who have made their First Holy Communion and have a sibling who will be in the school in the academic year starting September
3. Baptised Catholic Girls who have made their First Holy Communion
Candidates in this category will then be placed within one of the following sub-categories as shown in
Sub categories broken down by date of baptism and attendance of Mass
4. Other Baptised Catholic Girls
5. Other Looked After and other previously Looked After Girls who have been adopted.
6. Other Girls
So, the LAC are lower down if they or their families are not RC but top if either RC or their families are.

I'm not really sure why a you would want your child to attend a RC school if you do not practice that religion anyway?

ReallyTired Mon 21-Apr-14 23:04:21

"I'm not really sure why a you would want your child to attend a RC school if you do not practice that religion anyway?"

Personally I would only send my children to a catholic school when hell freezes over. (There are strong differences in theology between catholics and protestants. ie, transtantiation, the idea of purgertory, praying to saints would cause me to froth at the mouth)

Other parents want their children to attend an outstandng school. In some towns the catholic school is the only school that is classified as good. Surely its understandable that the coorporate parent wants the LAC child to have the best education possible without travelling to the next town.

A LAC child has often had a bad start and needs an outstanding school more than any other child. A practicing catholic family can easily provide faith education themselves. I am sure that children who do not attend catholic schools are allowed to take first communion. It is not a religious requirement that catholic children go to catholic school.

There are so few LAC children would it really make a difference to admissions if all LAC children were given priority? The number of LAC children is a tiny percentage of all school children. There are plenty of schools that don't have a single LAC child because none have applied.

Devora Mon 21-Apr-14 23:07:32

AngelEyes46, there are many reasons why a LAC may need to attend a particular school, even if they are not of that faith.

They may need to sustain the stability of existing relationships with other children who are attending that school.

They may need to avoid the only other available school - e.g. if other birth family members attend there.

They may need a particular kind of input that is available at that school e.g. expertise with a particular kind of LD, or lots of other children of the LAC's ethnicity.

The only other available school may be failing.

The only other available school may be in a part of town where LAC feels or actually is unsafe, or maybe they just need a school as close as possible to their home.

All of these reasons seem to me more important than sustaining the religious purity of a faith school.

I would love, love, love to hear how the MN defenders of faith schools could justify faith schools acting in such a mean-spirited way.

tethersend Mon 21-Apr-14 23:10:35

I am an advisory teacher for LAC, and part of my remit is to ensure that LAC attend good or outstanding schools. Clearly this does not involve removing children from a school they are settled at simply because it got a bad Ofsted Inspection, but the idea is to recognise the importance of education in a child's life, and challenge the notion of it as an 'add-on' to a good foster placement.

I have come across schools where a baptised Catholic Looked After Child ranks 13th in the priority list.

I have come across another school who interviewed children before offering them a place and declined a LAC a place on the grounds that they didn't think the carer was supportive enough hmm needless to say, another part of my job is to challenge this.

"A fairly high proportion of LAC children (by no means all) have a statement so its possible to force a faith school to give a place to a LAC child as a statemented child."

You would think that this is the case- in practice, a Looked After Child is often at a disadvantage when applying for a school place in any school, as the schools are then able to say they are unable to meet the child's needs (and frequently remain unchallenged by their LEA), whereas LAC are excepted children when it comes to ICS, and a request to go over numbers and admit a LAC of any age will usually produce a place. In the rare case that it does not, we ask the LEA to direct the school to admit the child or, if it is an academy, write to the Secretary of State (have thankfully not yet had to do this). The process for a statemented student is lengthier and rarely yields a place at a school which previously declared themselves unable to meet the child's needs.

Devora Mon 21-Apr-14 23:11:22

And I do have to declare an interest here: my dd2 is previously LAC and her admissions priority is about the first concrete gesture of support we've had from society. I savour it.

ReallyTired Mon 21-Apr-14 23:12:56

I had a look on the web and according to the NSPCC there are 91,000 LAC children in the UK which is frankly a drop in the ocean compared to the total number of children who live in the UK.

Its not going to make a major difference to the ethos of a faith school letting all LAC children have priority. It has to be remembered that the majority of LAC children will not want a place at the catholic school.

I can't see how anyone who claims to be a christian can justify not giving all LAC children priority if their carers choose to apply to a catholic school.

tethersend Mon 21-Apr-14 23:13:35

in practice, a statemented Looked After Child is often at a disadvantage

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 21-Apr-14 23:18:27

"I have come across schools where a baptised Catholic Looked After Child ranks 13th in the priority list."

I didn't know any of this, this is terrible.

tethersend Mon 21-Apr-14 23:20:04

The child was baptised at the age of two, and the school specified that baptism must take place within six months of birth for priority to be given.

2468Motorway Mon 21-Apr-14 23:30:44

In response to AngelEyes

' I'm not really sure why a you would want your child to attend a RC school if you do not practice that religion anyway?'

As I showed they may well still be of the 'correct' faith but unable to fulfill the definition of practising as described by the school. Baptism cert before 6months and a lengthy period of a specific church attendance are 2 that come to mind. Many looked after kids have moved about and will never pass these definitions of practising.

LAC are some of the most disadvantaged in the school system, to make them a top priority goes a tiny way to redress that. I think it's shameful that faith schools seek to dodge this for a tiny number of children.

Ps I have no vested interest other than it just strikes me as unfair.

AngelEyes46 Mon 21-Apr-14 23:32:23

Not sure if anyone will agree with what I'm going to say re: non RC LAC (and their families) but RC schools (not sure about CofE) work on partnership between the 3 groups: family/church and the school. A child (either LAC or non-LAC) would not have the same as either a LAC RC child or one that is within a RC family. This isn't about getting the best school because it's outstanding - it may not be right for a non-RC child as they wouldn't have any commitment to the Church and their family wouldn't practice the Catholic faith.

Tether - the LAC that you know of that was baptised at 2 - not fair at all.

AngelEyes46 Mon 21-Apr-14 23:37:31

2468 - x posted. I agree with you in your example - I think my dd's school's admission policy is good. I just don't think that a child (LAC or not) who has no faith connection should be top priority for a faith school. I could be accused of placing 'faith' over 'vulnerability' but the child could actually feel ostracised (as explained about the 3 partnership)

Devora Mon 21-Apr-14 23:41:17

AngelEyes, of course it may not always be the best thing for a non-RC child to attend that school. But it may be. I've given some examples of situations where it may be. So why have a blanket refusal of priority? Who should decide which particular school suits an already disadvantaged and possibly traumatised child: the people who understand that child's needs best, or the school admissions policy?

Seriously, would Jesus have supported this practice for one second?

And actually, what you say about faith schools working in partnership with church and families: I imagine ALL schools see themselves as working in partnership with families. Too bloody bad for those kids without families, eh? Already lacking the most basic building block of healthy functioning, so let's kick away another? It makes my blood boil.

ReallyTired Mon 21-Apr-14 23:42:41

"ot sure if anyone will agree with what I'm going to say re: non RC LAC (and their families) but RC schools (not sure about CofE) work on partnership between the 3 groups: family/church and the school. A child (either LAC or non-LAC) would not have the same as either a LAC RC child or one that is within a RC family."

AngelEyes46
That is utter bullshit. Very few children who go to catholic school attend church every week once they have a place. If its deemed so essential for a child to attend church then surely the catholic school should kick out kids who families have stopped attending church in year 3 when all the children are in the school.

Do you not think that there is an element of protectionism? Surely a school should be capable of educating a child of any creed or colour. A school should be capable of taking on the extra reponsiblity of educating a LAC kid.

Devora Mon 21-Apr-14 23:43:00

I've just read your latest post. Yes, I'm afraid you are placing faith over vulnerability. You are telling yourself that this is in the child's best interests - how very compassionate. You'll have to make your own peace with that.

AngelEyes46 Mon 21-Apr-14 23:43:11

Another thought - you wouldn't want to put a LAC in a grammar school (if they didn't meet the pass mark)!

However, why not have LAC as the top priority for private schools with the bursarys being allocated to them. Would like to hear what mnetters think of that suggestion?

Kewcumber Mon 21-Apr-14 23:47:41

I went to a catholic primary in fact a pretty hard core convent school as a non RC.

I didn't feel one bit excluded or ostracised, even as a very obviously non-RC child. And I can't imagine for one second that if there had been any hint of it that the sisters wouldn't have stamped on it pretty hard.

But then that was in the days when catholic schools (at least the one I went to) felt a responsibility to educate first and foremost not to ring fence catholic children from the pernicious influence of non catholics which seems to be the trend these days around here.

If a school cannot comply with the spirit of the legislation and to prioritise education for those most in need over those with the best religious credentials then they have no business taking tax payers money.

As I said - would love to see the response to a state funded hospital run along the same lines.

2468Motorway Mon 21-Apr-14 23:48:10

A really committed school who really cared about a kid I think can work wonders. It should not be the case that every LAC doesn't get the best school they can for them because they only moved to the area 6 months ago.

It makes me really sad, this could be a no brainer to fix. Back in the 70s and 80s faith schools did teach anyone and everyone because they were not oversubscribed. They coped fine and would still be fine with the less than 2 kids per school they'd probably get if they were genuinely prioritized LAC.

Devora Mon 21-Apr-14 23:49:27

Actually no, I can't let it go. AngelEyes, if a LAC chid had a choice of your dd's school or one attended by other members of their birth family - a birth family responsible for torturing and traumatising that child - would you still close the door to them?

If a LAC desperately wanted to go to your dd's school because it is the one that has the most children who share their ethnicity, and they already feel 'different' in so many ways, then would you still close the door to them?

If everything about the ethos of the school, range of subjects, specialist areas etc suited this particular LAC, would you still close the door to them?

Seriously, would you? Because if you still think that faith purity is more important, then stop kidding yourself that you care about that child.

ReallyTired Mon 21-Apr-14 23:50:27

One of those nasty LAC kids might contaminate those nice RC kids. The nice RC kids might learn a few swear words. Or shock horror the LAC kid might pull down the SATs results of the school.

Surely the most vunerable children in society should have pick of the best schools in the area. The fact that they may not have a supportive family or a church community is more reason for giving them priority at the most popular schools. I believe that the child's social worker is the best person to decide on a school for a child.

Kewcumber Mon 21-Apr-14 23:50:53

You might want to put LAC's in a grammar school - why on earth not?! My brother failed his 11 plus for social reasons and my father managed to persuade our local grammar school to take him anyway. He did fantastically well.

Many LAC's don't have such strong parental involvement so miss out.

You can;t compel privately run organisations to take a specific group - any discussion about that is totally pointless though there are private schools who (for example) prioritise children of single parents.

Devora Mon 21-Apr-14 23:54:15

I think it would be a lovely gesture if private schools offered free places to LAC children - but as they're not run on taxpayers' money it's unlikely to happen.

Faith schools, though - why it is we are using public money to support the social engineering motored by many faith schools is truly beyond me.

tethersend Mon 21-Apr-14 23:56:36

Some LAs do fund private school places for some children- given that they fund expensive (private) specialist residential/educational placements as a matter of course, it can sometimes be a far better use of money to send a child to private boarding school if that is the right option for them.

Also, children who attended a private school before being taken into care should continue to attend.

ReallyTired Mon 21-Apr-14 23:56:45

In our county the few grammar schools left do give priority to LAC kids. In practice few social workers want to put a LAC child in a school where they wouldn't cope academically. Social workers aren't silly.

I feel that schools that recieve state funding should be required to have LAC children as top priority.

ReallyTired Tue 22-Apr-14 00:03:51

Devora
There are private schools that do offer 100% burseries to children who have lost one or both parents. My brother had a friend who lost both parents at the age 11 and he attended a private boarding school where previously he was a day boy.

For example Reeds. Another school is Christ Hospital. The problem is that these schools cannot fund many places. The money has to come from somewhere.

tethersend Tue 22-Apr-14 00:04:40

"In practice few social workers want to put a LAC child in a school where they wouldn't cope academically. Social workers aren't silly."

Unfortunately ReallyTired, this can sometimes be a problem- some SWs see academic rigour as a demand to be placed on a child and wrongly decide that they will not cope. This thinking can contribute to a culture of low educational expectations, and may not take account of a child's prior educational achievement or predicted targets.

"I feel that schools that recieve state funding should be required to have LAC children as top priority."

Wholeheartedly agree.

Devora Tue 22-Apr-14 00:06:42

Thanks, ReallyTired. Your post has reminded me that I did once know a bright child from a very troubled family who attended one of the schools you mention. As the family was on benefits the social workers must have identified the opportunity and a free place organised. It was a wonderful opportunity for him, but sadly he struggled with being apart from his younger siblings, feeling that he had to be with them to protect them sad.

ReallyTired Tue 22-Apr-14 00:11:39

"Unfortunately ReallyTired, this can sometimes be a problem- some SWs see academic rigour as a demand to be placed on a child and wrongly decide that they will not cope. This thinking can contribute to a culture of low educational expectations, and may not take account of a child's prior educational achievement or predicted targets."

That is awful. Prehaps we need to think how a school is selected for LAC kid. Prehaps LAC should be assessed by an educational pychologists to ensure that gifted LAC children are nutured appriopiately.

I imagine that being sent to a non selective school is a bigger problems somewhere like Kent than a county where there are virtually no grammar schools. I suppose it shows how vital it is for a LAC child to attend the best school possible. An outstanding comprehensive school will bring out the best in a LAC kid.

AngelEyes46 Tue 22-Apr-14 00:52:26

I agree with a lot of what posters have said but criteria is set:
grammar - meeting passmark (your dad devora - i'm assuming won on appeal?)
faith - for children of that school's faith
private - for families that can pay.

If it's about making sure that the LAC has the 'right' school for him/her, then there should be some type of clause written into the admission policies, for example:
grammar - even though an LAC does not meet the passmark, can still gain a place if (see examples given by Devora)
faith - even though not practicing of that faith/family not practicing of that faith, can gain a place if (examples given by Devora)
private - even though has no funds, school can apply for state funding and will be accepted.

By the way VA schools get 90% funding from state (not that it's particularly relevant as we are in agreement that it's finding the right school and not about who's paying for it.

Madrigals Tue 22-Apr-14 07:26:08

I think LAC should get priority in every school.

More generally, I don't think faith schools should receive state funding to only educate dc of that faith. The schools should be required to admit at least 30% of dc not of the specified faith.

Devora Tue 22-Apr-14 07:26:17

Angel, what is the practical difference between your exemption clause and just giving LAC children priority?

And you are wrong that the criteria are set. There is nothing stopping a faith school giving LAC priority except their own unwillingness to do so.

It was kew's dad who went to grammar school, though incidentally I too went to a selective school despite having failed my 11 plus.

Kewcumber Tue 22-Apr-14 08:16:06

They didn't do formal appeals in those days Angel - if you persuaded the head you were in.

Yes I know faith schools have to find 10% of their budget - maybe I'd concede that faith schools can admit on a selective basis the same percentage of children as the funds they find privately. So 10% of children can be selected on a faith basis and the balance should be the same as every other state funded school.

I see absolutely no reason why the state should pay for a specific religious schooling requirement. You don't need to go to a catholic school to be a catholic and atheists do perfectly well in catholic schools in the right circumstances (which tends to be about attitude of school and parents)

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 22-Apr-14 08:56:40

"Yes I know faith schools have to find 10% of their budget - maybe I'd concede that faith schools can admit on a selective basis the same percentage of children as the funds they find privately. So 10% of children can be selected on a faith basis and the balance should be the same as every other state funded school."

I like this idea. It would almost certainly end up being more than 10% too because siblings could get in on sibling not faith, some non-churchgoers would prefer non-faith so would self-select out of applying etc.

tiggytape Tue 22-Apr-14 09:14:18

It is not a religious requirement that catholic children go to catholic school.

It is for Catholic people. Canon Law requires them to seek out a Catholic education for their children and explore any means of achieving that. They are required to send their children to a Catholic school if at all possible.

I have come across another school who interviewed children before offering them a place and declined a LAC a place on the grounds that they didn't think the carer was supportive enough hmm needless to say, another part of my job is to challenge this.

Interviews are not allowed for state schools. For 6th form places they can be used to discuss the subject options and requirements but must not inform the decision making process. That isn't an LAC issue - if any school are cherry picking pupils via interview they are in gross breach of the law.

One of those nasty LAC kids might contaminate those nice RC kids. The nice RC kids might learn a few swear words. Or shock horror the LAC kid might pull down the SATs results of the school.

I still think there is a lot of stereotyping here. LAC deserve extra consideration because they have had a traumatic start in life and have more things to cope with on a daily basis in general. It does not however mean they are difficult children. They are equally likely to be quiet, reserved and (as far as any school is concerned) pose no behavioural problems at all. Not all LAC experience an 'undesirable' home life. Many subsequent and sibling children will have been with foster carers since birth and have have had a stable and 'normal' home life in many key respects.

The general objection to faith (and sometimes selective) schooling is something that has been around for years. Moreso now that places are short and parents either have no choice but to attend a faith school or not choice over other schools because of faith ones nearby that they cannot access.

Devora Tue 22-Apr-14 09:29:03

Church schools started in order to reach out to and help the poor, at a time when there was no state provision and only the rich could access learning. How on earth have we allowed them to start excluding the poor and disadvantaged? (And national evidence shows that that is exactly what they do.) Why aren't Christians furious about this happening in their name.

btw, arguing that excluding minorities is justified because they won't fit in has a long and dishonourable history. If faith schools feel they can't offer a supportive environment for the most disadvantaged children in our society they should be taking a bloody long look at themselves.

Kewcumber Tue 22-Apr-14 09:35:27

Canon Law requires them to seek out a Catholic education for their children and explore any means of achieving that.

I have no problem with that - knock yourself out and go catholic - just don't expect the state to pay and then be surprised when people get antsy when children given priority at every other state funded school are denired a place at a catholic school on religious grounds.

Kewcumber Tue 22-Apr-14 09:41:52

My objection to state funded religious schools is nothing to do with shortness of places but entirely one of principle.

I beleive in principle that the state has no business funding religious education. There are countries with way more fundamental Catholicism who have entirely secular state schooling and they seem to manage to be good catholics just fine.

Kewcumber Tue 22-Apr-14 09:44:44

thats any faith schools rather than religious education - I don't have a huge problem with children being taught about religion and the differences. I do have a problem with the state paying a school to tell children that there is a God and this is precisely how you have to worship him - whether thats CofE, Catholic, Muslim or Jewish etc.

ReallyTired Tue 22-Apr-14 09:47:38

tiggytape
I was being sarcastic. I know know several LAC kids and many of them are lovely children.

"It is for Catholic people. Canon Law requires them to seek out a Catholic education for their children and explore any means of achieving that. They are required to send their children to a Catholic school if at all possible."

Prehaps canon law seperates Catholics from Jesus. Prehaps canon law is wrong. Canon law is similar to the Jews who felt it was wrong to heal the sick on the sabath.

Show me evidence that the catholic church mandates that catholic parents are required to send their children to catholic school. There is nothing is Jesus' teachings that say that catholic school is essential. Infact there is plenty in both the old and the new testament about aiding the orphan or the fatherless. (Aka the LAC child)

I can give you loads of bible quotes that instruct both christians and jews to look after orphans if you want me to. It could be argued that looking after the orphan is a christian obligation. If catholics are christian then surely catholic schools are required to give LAC kids priority.

I feel that if a school recieves a single penny from the tax payer then they should be prepared to give priority to LAC kids. If you want religous exclusivity then the parents should pay for it.

tiggytape Tue 22-Apr-14 10:19:15

Show me evidence that the catholic church mandates that catholic parents are required to send their children to catholic school. There is nothing is Jesus' teachings that say that catholic school is essential.

ReallyTired - Catholics believe they must follow Canon Law and Canon Law dictates that they must seek a Catholic education for their children.
The bible doesn't say that at all. A lot of religions operate this way. Many Muslims believe that wearing the hijab is important to their faith. The Quran doesn't specifically tell them to do this - it just mentions being modest and unadorned. However Islamic scholars call that passage the verses of hijab and they say that the hijab must be worn.

Most religions are the same - a holy book that followers believe they must live their lives by and then "extra" teachings and beliefs that aren't set out in the holy book they follow but are still very much part of their faith and very much followed by members of that faith.

Kewcumber Tue 22-Apr-14 10:25:08

If you're going to rely on Canon Law about what the rights and obligations of Catholics re education:

Can. 794 §1 The Church has in a special way the duty and the right of educating, for it has a divine mission of helping all to arrive at the fullness of Christian life.

My bold.

tiggytape Tue 22-Apr-14 10:33:47

I'm not "relying" on Canon Law at all. I was just pointing out that, unlike many other faiths, the Catholic religion specifically instructs members of that faith to seek out a certain type of education for their child.

Catholic parents have no choice if they are to follow Canon Law - they are obliged to send their children to Catholic schools and that of course extends to sending them to very poorly performing Catholic schools above better performing community school (such situations exist certainly in London - I don't know about elsewhere. The left-over schools that people with no place get allocated are Catholic schools in some parts of London and have been for several years now).

If there are 1000 applicants I suppose there will then be a conflict between wishing to bring the Catholic faith to non religious people and meeting the obligations placed upon Catholic parents to secure a Catholic school place for their child. That's the problem generally with a shortage of places. When only the children in the top 3 admissions criteria get into any school, it means that more people are excluded from good schools, faith schools, local schools, popular schools etc than can ever get in. Which isn't fair no matter which way you decide who should miss out.

I agree though that LAC children should be above all others in all schools including selective and faith schools.

ReallyTired Tue 22-Apr-14 10:40:41

The bible says plenty.

Old testatment

Exodus 22:22-24 "You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict then in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless."

Psalm 82:3
"Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed."

Deuteronomy 14:28-29
"At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands."

New testament
Acts 20:35
"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "

Prehaps some of things said by Jesus were more powerful
Matthew 25:36-38

36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?

Or prehaps the most important verses in the bible which appears in all four gospels.

Mark 12
"28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.e 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’f 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’g There is no commandment greater than these.”

Canon law does not pretend to superceed the gospels. Catholics are commanded to love LAC kids as they are our neighbours. The catholic church may require parents to seek a catholic school, but they will not damn a child who is unable to attend a catholic school. There are plenty of catholics who attend secular schools all over the world.

I wonder what Pope Francis' opinon would be on not giving priority to LAC children in catholic schools. (unlike the rest of UK state schools)

Kewcumber Tue 22-Apr-14 10:44:54

Interestingly when the local jointly run Catholic/CofE secondary was failing, they couldn't get enough people who called themselves Catholic to fill the spaces and the catholic church walked away from the school, leaving the CofE to turn the school around (which it did).

10 years later apparently the lack of a Catholic secondary in the borough is apparently an injustice which can only to righted by using the only available space to start up a catholic secondary with 100% catholic admissions despite there being a stated need for an all inclusive secondary urgently.

I am more than a little jaundiced about the desperate need for the state to pay for a catholic education because of Canon Law which seems to be pretty liberally interpreted by so many parents around here.

tiggytape Tue 22-Apr-14 10:50:58

ReallyTired - I do agree with you.
I have said that I think LAC should be above faith criteria at faith schools.

I also understand however why, after LAC, Catholic parents are keen to preserve their priority for Catholic schools in general and why it is particularly important to them and their faith to be able to access these schools.

The school place shortage has made things very problematic though. Parents living close to 2 faith schools may suddenly find they qualify for no school at all. Years ago, they would have the choice of either of the 2 faith schools or an alternative 1200m from home. No school got so many applicants that it filled up after the first couple of criteria. Now that is the norm. Places are short so the faith schools are full with children meeting faith criteria and community schools are full of siblings and children living 400m away. It causes a lot of understandable disappointment and frustration for people who cannot find any local school to attend whether that is because of faith criteria, sibling criteria or pre deteremined catchment areas causing them to not qualify for anything.

ReallyTired Tue 22-Apr-14 10:57:12

tiggytape I think we are in total agreement.

I am not happy with parents going through ridiculous hoops to get their child into a particular school. It becomes stupid when parents become competitive over piousness. I feel that the faith requirement should be made easily achievable. (Ie. attendence 12 times a year rather than every single week. Baptism should be valid at any age. Converts to a religion should be treated equally to those born into a faith)

The schools admissions crisis is something different. Prehaps the difference between a LAC child and normal family is the freedom to move if they are in an admissions blackspot. There are threads where children have been allocated a primary school 14 miles away.

Kewcumber Tue 22-Apr-14 10:58:36

I understand why Catholic parents are keen to preserve priority. I just don;t think they should be allowed to if they take state money. The local CofE secondary has (a minority) foundation places reserved for practising Christians and the majority allocated in the same way as for all other state schools.

I think thats fair - parents know that the school has a Christian ethos/message so parents like me would not necessarily choose it but I'm happy that the option is available for those who want their children to go to a school they are afterall paying for.

If you want a ring-fenced school of your own religion than you and/or your faith should raise the money to pay for it.

Which is a slightly differnt issue to LAC but IMO it all comes down to the same thing - the catholic church in particular doesn't want non-catholic children at their schools - fine then pay for it yourself. Not giving priority to LAC's is outrageous - how many non catholic LAC's who actually want to go to a catholic school? Very few I'd bet but the catholic schools are (mostly) too scared to admit them - whether its the non-catholic contamination thats the problem or the LAC status would be interesting to know.

prh47bridge Tue 22-Apr-14 14:04:12

If you want a ring-fenced school of your own religion than you and/or your faith should raise the money to pay for it.

VA schools (i.e. faith schools that set their own admission criteria) generally use land and buildings that belong to the church, albeit indirectly. Prior to 1944 they funded 100% of all capital costs and a proportion of running costs. From 1944 running costs have been paid by the state but the church is still required to fund a proportion of capital costs (currently 10%). In practice some schools still have a proportion of their running costs met by the church.

I understand the view that state-funded schools should not be allowed to select on faith grounds. New faith schools are only allowed to select up to 50% of their intake on faith grounds. Many existing faith schools also restrict the proportion selected on faith. However I understand the Roman Catholic church is against any restriction.

By the way I am not arguing for or against any particular policy.

Devora Tue 22-Apr-14 14:46:17

But surely even die-hard adherents of faith selection couldn't defend refusing priority to LAC. We are talking about a tiny number, nowhere near enough to alter the character or ethos of the school.

prh47bridge Tue 22-Apr-14 15:18:02

Some adherents of faith selection would indeed defend putting children of the faith ahead of all children who are not of the faith, LAC or not. OF course, LAC children of the faith always get the highest priority.

The one thing missing from this discussion is any statistics on the number of LAC children who miss out on places at faith schools because they are not of the faith. I'm afraid I am not aware of any figures so I have no idea if this is a genuine, widespread issue or not an issue at all.

Devora Tue 22-Apr-14 15:38:53

I wonder if adoptionuk and Community Care could be persuaded to ask their members.

ouryve Tue 22-Apr-14 15:52:57

AngelEyes - 95% of the day in a RC school is pretty much identical to that 95% of the day in a CofE or non-denominational school. Many of the staff aren't RC. The prayers in assembly are a bit different and there's the odd picture of someone with a halo on the walls, but there's nothing going on in the school day that will put a child who is not in a practising RC family at a disadvantage. And, if there is, there shouldn't be.

tiggytape Tue 22-Apr-14 15:56:00

The other limit would be a practical issue more than an exclusion issue.
Most children in foster care join that family as the youngest child. This is seen as preferable for a variety of reasons and is increasingly the norm. The same is generally true of adoption now too where again it is seen as desirable (and sometimes essential) that a child in care or adopted from care is the youngest child in a family.

Older siblings of adopted or foster children get no priority for schools so usually attend the one their address dictates. The foster family is unlikely to want 2 or 3 children all in different schools by choice and therefore may not actively apply to faith schools or more distant schools that their other children cannot attend even if this is an option.

TeenAndTween Tue 22-Apr-14 16:04:45

tiggy not sure you are right there wrt adopted children at least, or at least not entirely.

An older sibling of an adopted child wouldn't get priority for a school, just because their younger not yet at school sibling was adopted.

However, once the adopted child was at school, then any sibling would be positioned on the waiting list as a sibling link, so could in theory move schools to be with younger sibling if there was a space (if that makes sense?). Whether a parent would want to move their older child is another matter altogether of course.

I know of at least one adopted child who this year has missed out on a place at a CofE school due to positioning of children of faith above non-faith LAC/Adopted.

tiggytape Tue 22-Apr-14 16:10:07

Yes Teen that is true.
I am thinking more of families that have school age children of their own who also foster younger children.
They have to apply for their older child's school place with no priority at all so like a lot of people they might not get a good school.
Then their foster child applies a few years later. Theoretically they could ask that the foster child to go to any good school but they might not want to. They might not want to do 2 separate school runs or pull their older child out of the school where they are already settled.

Kewcumber Tue 22-Apr-14 16:23:28

The local catholic secondary had land "donated" by the council on a 100 year lease at a peppercorn rent. The buildings needed very little adaptation as it was a preexisting adult education college.

New faith schools are only allowed to select up to 50% of their intake on faith grounds this isn't true and I know its not true because Richmond council/catholic church decision to open a new catholic secondary with 100% catholic intake was taken to a judicial review last year by the Richmond inclusive schools group who lost. Apparently there is a loophole whereby religious schools can set up with 100% selective intake and then subsequently convert to an academy keeping their selection criteria whilst getting the benefits and funding of an academy.

I wasn't involved in the group but I followed it closely at time. The decision made a mockery of the 50% selection as now it seems any religious school has carte blanche to do it this way and have a 100% religious selection.

Kewcumber Tue 22-Apr-14 16:28:50

I'm not sure what your point is Tiggy.

YEs of course school choices have to be made on a practical basis as well considering where other children go, but what has that got to do with whether the school should be offering LAC places as the highest priority?

Parents and carers chose a school for any number of reasons

Kewcumber Tue 22-Apr-14 16:34:56

Judicial review here including the point that the council paid for the site - so the church didn;t exactly have deep pockets in this case.

https://humanism.org.uk/2012/12/14/full-judgement-published-in-richmond-catholic-schools-judicial-review/

To add insult to injury the (approved) new free school can't open in Sept 2014 because there is no permanent site available because the council gave away the only available site to the catholic church! Lots of parents who accepted places at the new free school are now scrabbling around to find (non-existant) places.

tiggytape Tue 22-Apr-14 16:38:01

I was responding (perhaps a bit late) to the question about how statistically it would be possible to prove if LAC are often denied a church school place and whether this is an actual issue that affects lots of children.

My point was that not all LAC would necessarily have missed out due to admissions policy but due to the fact that there are practical considerations about where they apply.

The premise for the admissions rules is that LAC should go to 'better' schools because they would benfit most from this. However having other children in a foster family to consider may mean they do not end up going to 'better' schools at all or the hard to get into faith schools. Any statistics may not show the real reasons behind potentally lower numbers of LAC children is lower in faith and other schools.

I have already said I think the LAC category should always trump any faith criteria in any school but that doesn't mean people would choose those schools for their foster children if their older children wouldn't get in.

tiggytape Tue 22-Apr-14 16:40:06

Lots of parents who accepted places at the new free school are now scrabbling around to find (non-existant) places.

As an aside, I understood that Free School allocations in such circumstances were in addition to council allocations. Therefore every child with a Free School offer should not have been left without a place because they will still have their council allocation? Has that not happened?

tiggytape Tue 22-Apr-14 16:43:35

Sorry - that was all very muddled.
My point was about stats.
Stats might show few LAC in some faith schools.
This may prove that they are denied places in favour of faith applicants.
But equally may prove that their foster families won't apply to hard-to-get-into schools (faith or non faith) for a foster child when the older children of the family cannot attend that same school and don't want to leave the one they already attend or do 2 school runs daily.

2468Motorway Tue 22-Apr-14 16:45:08

In answer to prh47bridge.

LAC have a lot stacked against them. I wouldn't care if it only affects one child. LAC may not have a pushy advocate or had many house moves (not including the trauma of being in care as well). It should be about sending the right message. That message is 'you've had a tough start, let's see if we can do something to ensure the best outcome for you'.

The rules should be made to change and I would also in grammar schools make LAC a priority if their primary teacher or an ed psych recommends them regardless of 11+ scores.

ReallyTired Tue 22-Apr-14 16:53:17

2468Motorway

100% agree with your post. In my county the few grammar schools left do give priority to LAC kids.

Giving LAC carte blanche choice of mainstream state school is essential.

Devora Tue 22-Apr-14 17:12:39

Tiggy, you asked kew about why children are left without places after the free school had to delay opening. My understanding (I also live locally) is that parents were told the school would not open several days AFTER school places had been offered. So many had already turned down their other school place.

tiggytape Tue 22-Apr-14 17:17:29

Oh I see Devora. That is awful. Were the council able to reinstate the original allocations to the children who'd opted for the Free School during that time?

Devora Tue 22-Apr-14 17:24:00

I don't know, Tiggy. I guess it depends on whether places had been reoffered - do you know, kew?

prh47bridge Tue 22-Apr-14 17:49:24

Kewcumber - I am aware of the Richmond case. I was keeping it simple. I very much doubt we are going to see a rush of new VA schools opening across the country. It requires the co-operation of the LA and most will not do it. And, for the sake of accuracy, the school can give priority to Catholic applicants but it cannot exclude non-Catholics. If there are fewer Catholic applicants than places they must admit non-Catholics. Of course, it may be that there will always be more Catholic applicants than places but, given that they only prioritise baptised Catholic children, there is a reasonable chance that this won't be the case.

Whilst there are exceptions such as the one you highlight I stand by my comment that the vast majority of VA schools use land and buildings belonging to the church.

Kewcumber Tue 22-Apr-14 17:49:37

"Richmond Council said all families who applied to the council have received another secondary school place.

But one parent said her daughter was left with her fourth choice of school, forcing her to get two buses to get there each day.

A council spokesman said: “We recognise that for the many families that backed the school, this will be a disappointment. The council is very keen to offer whatever help it can to assist the school, so it can open in 2015.”

Pretty much the 150 places that had been offered were offered whatever was left over after everyone in the whole borough accepted their offers.

The coucil has been widely criticised for allowing Turing House to make offers without a permanent site available but frankly having shouted very loudly that it was essential that the catholic school had the only credible site available they had painted themselves into a corner.

The truth is that the catholic school didn;t free up as many spaces as teh council were claiming it would as many catholic children went to secondary catholics out of the borough (bearing in mind this is a very small london borough that generally wasn;t too far away!).

The conservatives have lost a LOT of votes on this matter in a marginal seat... added to which the head of the conservatives sits on a catholic charity which wasn't initially declared when the "negotiations" for the property were announced.

Its all very unsavory in my opinion - religious education of a minority has trumped the rights of the majority of children in this borough to go to a decent fairly local secondary school.

I know thats rather off topic but theres a lot more bitterness about this locally than the tory party realise.

Kewcumber Tue 22-Apr-14 17:51:15

I can only case my opinions on what I know.

Perhaps the religious education in other parts of country is fair, I judge by what I've seen and it doesn't look good to me.

Kewcumber Tue 22-Apr-14 17:55:02

prh perhaps you also know then that the big issue with applying to said catholic school is that its already been stated that whilst you might get your non-catholic child into the school in the early years when its undersubscribed (there were even as you know cases of people being offer SRR when they hadn;t applied and aren't catholic!) that in future the criteria will continue to be catholics first everyone else second - even siblings. So if you oldest child is forced to go because of a lack of alternatives in 2/3/4 years you could be refused a place for a sibling on the basis that they aren;t catholic.

Sorry but the whole think is nonsense in my very humble opinion.

tiggytape Tue 22-Apr-14 18:01:11

Kewcumber - that isn't unique to faith schools

At primary for example an older child might not get any local school allocated and be forced to attend one 2 miles away in special measures. That school could have a priority catchment area and low sibling priority as its admissions criteria - not that it matters because everyone who applies to it gets an offer and not many apply!

Fast forward 3 years and the same school gets a new Head, outstanding Ofsted and is "the" school everyone wants. People forced to attend it when it was in special measures will now be unable to get their younger children a place because the priority catchment area will fill up all the places long before it gets to siblings.

In places like Devon where location trumps siblings, this is not uncommon at all.

FamiliesShareGerms Tue 22-Apr-14 19:20:23

All new schools now have to be free schools, which are limited to max 50% prioritisation by faith criteria (though of course in practice other criteria such as distance or parental preference may make a school near 100% of one faith).

Independent schools may apply to convert to free schools (ie to gone into the state sector) but are also bound by these rules re max 50%. Existing VA / VC schools can also apply to become academies, and they are currently allowed tk convert "as is" wrt admissions criteria. (Designated schools are also allowed to discriminate in the appointment of staff of their faith within certain parameters).

But they should all, IMHO, give LAC priority in their admissions for all the very good reasons set out above.

Kewcumber Tue 22-Apr-14 20:26:26

our new catholic school got around this 50% by claiming (with the councils support) that it only applied to schools who had chosen to set up, as it was apparently "necessary" to hav a catholic school they didn't have to comply.

Very odd.

tethersend Tue 22-Apr-14 20:56:26

"Interviews are not allowed for state schools. For 6th form places they can be used to discuss the subject options and requirements but must not inform the decision making process. That isn't an LAC issue - if any school are cherry picking pupils via interview they are in gross breach of the law."

Indeed, tiggy- but as I work exclusively with LAC, I need to challenge breaches of the law when they affect the LAC children I work with. This school has been mentioned a few times on MN for other breaches of the law, and I am still agog that they have not been reigned in.

"The foster family is unlikely to want 2 or 3 children all in different schools by choice and therefore may not actively apply to faith schools or more distant schools that their other children cannot attend even if this is an option."

The choice of school is not the Foster Carer's to make, as they are not the corporate parent- the SW or Virtual Head is ultimately responsible for the choice of school (the parent will share this if the child is accommodated under Section 20 and they retain shared PR). Unfortunately, many SWs are not knowledgeable enough about schools to challenge a Foster Carer's preference, and make decisions in fear of disrupting the placement. As I stated earlier, LAs are under considerable pressure to ensure that LAC are placed in good or outstanding schools; unfortunately, this does not always filter down to SWs. With the Virtual Head role now mandatory, this should hopefully change.

tiggytape Tue 22-Apr-14 21:15:34

tether - I appreciate some schools do not always comply with admission rules and agree this needs to be challenged. However that does not mean the admissions process is flawed - in the grand scheme of things, schools who break the rules so blatantly as to actually interview pupils are very rare indeed.

A foster carer does not have parental responsibility for a foster child so it is perfectly true that in theory they do not make decisions about the child's education. However, in practice it would often be seen as potentially more damaging to force a foster family into a position where they felt unable to care for that child anymore (multiple school runs that disrupted work and homelife for everybody) than it would to agree to send the foster child to the same school as any older children. That won't apply in all cases of course but is one practical consideration that sometimes is a factor.

tethersend Tue 22-Apr-14 22:12:36

Fair point, tiggy- that particular school is a law unto itself. It was perhaps not the best example to use to illustrate my feelings about faith schools' approaches to LAC. Put simply, I feel that LAC should have the highest priority in all schools.

"However, in practice it would often be seen as potentially more damaging to force a foster family into a position where they felt unable to care for that child anymore (multiple school runs that disrupted work and homelife for everybody) than it would to agree to send the foster child to the same school as any older children."

Historically, this has been the case- but it should be challenged, as it is not on its own an acceptable reason for choosing a school for a Looked After Child. LAC should access the highest quality education available to them, hence the admissions criteria.

Consistency in education is key- Virtual Heads are working to reduce the number of school moves experienced by LAC; school can often be the only constant in their lives.

Children who have been placed in the same school as foster siblings can find themselves in a very difficult position if the placement breaks down and they face either seeing the previous foster carer at school or dealing with another school move.

A school needs to be chosen which will best meet the needs of the Looked After Child, regardless of the needs of the foster carer. If a school is found which is suitable for both, that is excellent, but the child's needs take priority over the foster carer's. The expectation is that the foster carer will prioritise the education of the child in their care; after all, many LAC will already be attending a school, and the foster carers are expected to accommodate this unless the distance is too far for the child to travel.

Any LAC placed at a school which is rated by OFSTED as a 3 or 4 in order to minimise the impact on foster carers will result in serious questions by OFSTED when they inspect Children's Services.

tiggytape Tue 22-Apr-14 22:52:42

It is good to hear that LAC have provision now for a much better overview of their needs tethersend and that the mood is towards increasing this further. Multiple school moves would be equally disruptive.

I feel as you do that LAC should always be the priority for all admissions. It is quite shocking really that legally ensured priority has only existed since the 2012 Admissions Code changes so is still very new. It doesn't go far enough if there are concessions where children can still miss out - although how routinely they do in those types of schools, I don't know.

prh47bridge Wed 23-Apr-14 00:03:49

It is quite shocking really that legally ensured priority has only existed since the 2012 Admissions Code changes so is still very new

Pardon?

Priority for LAC has existed in every version of the Admissions Code. All the most recent version did was extend that to former LAC who have been adopted.

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