So we did not get DS1 into any of the Catholic Boys Secondaries, and the reason was the baptism criteria. This will also be the case for ds2

(168 Posts)

The schools did not take into account our explanations for not baptizing ds1 within the first 6 months. (Which was my dads stroke and helping mum coping and getting dad on his road to recovery was more important to me than a baptism at the time - we organized a blessing for ds1, one which is used for a child that will be baptized, so a stop gap thing sort of)

We are ok for schools for now, as ds1 has accepted an offer to an independent.

But what about ds2?

No matter how often we go to Church, and observe holy days of Obligation, he was also not baptized until it was convenient to get the family together, while visiting my home town. It will mean that there is no point even trying, as this is so important.

And do I even want to send my precious children to schools that have no empathy for people who struggle? I seriously thought we had heaps of compassionate grounds, and our priest said so in his reference, that there were compassionate reasons to accept our son. But no.

Maybe this thread should be in Aibu or Religion / Philosopy but it has made me really question our options and life choices, and whether spending 30 k a year for education for both boys is going to be worth it.

edam Sun 17-Mar-13 09:36:05

It's rubbish, isn't it? YY, I get that they probably have lots of applications but that is really mean. Not the first time Catholic authorities have been harsh and unreasonable, though... the church does have a track record here. Although at least you have the ability to pay for private school.

(You'd drag my son to Catholic school over my dead body, but I sympathise with you on the unfairness).

23balloons Sun 17-Mar-13 09:39:01

That is tough. Can you appeal? Not all RC secondaries use baptism date though but obviously distance is taken into account. Near us you have 2schools not using that criteria,one is outstanding & very over subscribed, the other
not so good & you can get in with limited church attendance.

Is there no other state option? If not it looks like you will either need to pay or move house?

I would try appealing if it were me. I remember reading a few Adjudicator decisions about baptism date - it might be worth reading their findings for some ideas?

Rainbowinthesky Sun 17-Mar-13 09:40:40

The trouble is all the other people who didn't get their son baptised within the time criteria will all have their own reasons too. There has to be a measurable criteria to select by. I know several people in your situation who all have equally valid reasons for not baptising in time but they can't all get in.

prh47bridge Sun 17-Mar-13 09:42:16

You could, of course, try appealing for a place at the Catholic schools. Given the backing of your priest you would have a reasonable chance of success, particularly if he is the priest for the parish with which the appeal school is associated.

Rainbowinthesky Sun 17-Mar-13 09:42:23

You do have to also ask yourself if you really want a catholic education. We played the game for ds but aren't for dd as other things have taken over and it's not so important to me now.

I dont think there is a point in appealing. It is the CVMS, which is our top choice and only one bus ride away, it is heavily oversubscribed. Gunnersbury is playing the distance card, as we are 5 miles away, and the furthers child last year was just 3 miles away.

The state option we have been given is 45 minutes away by bus, and for reasons of bullying and assaults not an option.

It is complicated. My son has spent his primary years badly bullied, or excluded by the kids in his class. I cannot send him to a school which is well known for bullying, and where kids are assaulted on the bus stop. My heart would break daily.

I guess if there are limited places then they are going to have to get strict about applying their criteria. Perhaps there were already too many pupils who met the full criteria.

I thought I wanted a Catholic education, at the very least a Christian Ethos, or any good ethos, IYSWIM.

23balloons Sun 17-Mar-13 10:12:19

I still think it would be worth appealing especially if the school you have been offered would cause those problems for him. Are any of his friends going to your preferred Catholic school?
Last year a parent at my son's school made an appeal for her step son, baptised late baptism etc (not CV) due to the fact mother didn't want Catholic school, wanted grammar, boy didn't get grammar so father (recently convert to rc ) & step mother appealed. Long story but they did get the step son in on appeal. If you can stand the stress it might be worth it. Is there a sibling policy for ds2 though?

There is a sibling policy, just not sure I can handle the stress.... sad

23balloons Sun 17-Mar-13 11:40:00

If it was me I would do it. You sound like you have a case. Do you need to register by a certain time? Even if you are not sure you could register an appeal and if you feel you can't do it you can call the school and cancel. At least then you will have the chance,if you don't register you won't have the choice.

Sometimes in life you just have to fight for what you want. Of course I don't know your personal commitments but it would definitely be worth it if you won and it does sound like you have a case. I think there are lots of past threads with great advice about appealing.

Good luck with whatever you decide x

notfluffy Sun 17-Mar-13 11:53:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tiggytape Sun 17-Mar-13 12:02:31

Many popular Catholic schools use baptism by 6 months as an admissions criteria simply because they are swamped with genuine Catholic applicants and have to find a way of choosing between them.
I don't think it is lack of compassion, more that they are genuinely stuck on how to select from all of the Catholic applicants who want a place. Other Catholic schools not requiring early baptism tend to be the ones who have less Catholic applicants than places or at least not so many applicants overall.

As others have said, the appeal process exists so that you can explain why you did not meet this criteria for good reason. There may be others appealing on similar grounds - where ill health or family problems prevented early baptism.

If anything - and not wishing to sound cold hearted here - you are more likely to win an appeal on this basis for DS1 (where provable illness was involved) than for DS2 where it was more logistical issues. DS2 would then be in a better position due to the sibling link.

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 12:41:51

pure You have my sympathy. It might be worth looking into this more closely. A lot of Catholics coming from overseas come from countries where it is not the practise to baptise early, I think Poland is one, and of course Gunnersbury's catchment has a large Polish community. The Diocese argued that the increase in the need for school places amongst the Polish community in Ealing was going to result in Richmond parents no longer being able to access out of borough Catholic Schools to justify the creation of St RR, but that doesn't work if the Polish community can't access the schools because they didn't get baptised in time! If Gunnersbury are being flexible on the rule but Cardinal Vaughan are not might that be grounds for appeal?

Personally though I have no problem with providing schools for people seeking a Catholic education for religious or cultural reasons I do not agree with faith based criteria because it makes hypocrites of parents and unintentionally discriminates against parents who do not have the resources to meet the criteria. I am sorry that you are one of the latter. Ironically we have two DDs baptised before six months to please the grandparents and DH could have taken them along to church to meet the other criteria, and the fathers who taught him claimed they could use their influence to get the DDs into a Catholic School when they were trying to persuade us that we should, but in terms of my morality at least we are definitely far less worthy of a place at a Catholic School than you. We at least went through the trauma of not getting a primary place and experiencing the financial stress of having to opt for a private education rather than compromise our moral values.

prh47bridge Sun 17-Mar-13 13:21:30

Distance and the fact that the school is oversubscribed are irrelevant for appeals. Your argument would be that the school has made a mistake by failing to treat your son as baptised Catholic. Assuming your son would have been admitted if he had been treated as baptised Catholic the only question the panel will have to consider is whether or not the school were wrong.

Timetoask Sun 17-Mar-13 13:21:43

Really? I had no idea of this rule. My dc were baptised at 12 months old because I wanted to go back to my home country...

messybedhead Sun 17-Mar-13 13:24:59

I know somebody who won an appeal for Sacred Heart who had the same circumstances as you. They did have the backing of their priest though, who IIRC attended the appeal with them.

edam Sun 17-Mar-13 13:37:47
AngelEyes46 Sun 17-Mar-13 13:42:56

I feel for you pure. My dd was baptised over a year with mitigating circumstances. She did get into the school she wanted (we applied for 2 RC - one was under 6m bap and the other a year). Like you, I had a letter from the priest and 2 doctors. I don't know if it has been said at all above but make sure that you are on the waiting lists and find out what place you are. Where I live, the waiting lists change daily and you may be able to find out from your LA what number they went down to last year. How old is DS2 - the admissions policy may change (the school that my dd is at - she was in category j when we applied - if we were applying this year - she would be category d).

edam thats a point, but this view is very very outdated, and very wrong as it fails to take the children and the vulnerable into consideration. I hope pope Francis will put the Catholic Church straight.

Copthall, I have asked DH to verify with friends and family back home in Poland when it is customary to baptize children.

In our mitigating circumstances it would be difficult to get doctors letters, as it all related to my dads stroke and not me. And the priest we spoke to at the time has not only left our parish back home he has also left Norway! I emailed the new priest asking if it was possible to verify events that far back and if he could put me in touch with his colleague but had no reply. Will see them at mass for Easter, so could ask again. Might also be able to get something in writing from the matron of the convent where he was baptized. The Church did not actually even have disabled access, so he was baptized in the convent chapel!

I did not even know about St Thomas More!

Everything would have been so much simpler if we had stayed in Britain all along, let ds1 stay at his RC primary, and not cared much about family at all.

Ds1 has not had a Catholic education throughout primary because we were away helping my parents a few years.

I know we have an independent place. But I am not sure how we can achieve the same (or even afford the same) for ds2, who is not that academic. He is doing well, he is y3, and was level 3c for maths before half term, despite this being his second school year as he joined Y2 straight from Nursery in Norway. Not sure what to do if he wont get a Faith place and not secure an independent place. We would need a serious bursary for both.

ChippyMinton Sun 17-Mar-13 15:25:47

Quint, sorry you missed out on your choices. Are you on waiting list for G?

tiggytape Sun 17-Mar-13 15:59:42

What are the non-faith state alternatives like - or is it more a case that your closest schools geographically are faith schools so you don't qualify for any community schools on distance?

In terms of evidence for appeal, whilst it would be wonderful to have a stack of medical notes and the personal support of the priest from that time, the appeal panel can use their common sense too.
If you tell them the dates of the family illness (with any supporting evidence however small), it would be perfectly logical that, given your son's DOB (which you can also prove), the situation at the time was such that baptism was unavoidably delayed.

The reason I think you should really go for an appeal is that the delay in baptism for DS1 has a more acceptable (as far as admissions are concerned) reason behind it than the delay for DS2. With DS2 it was more a choice and logistics whereas for DS 1 it was beyond your control.
It is possible the school may drop or amend the criteria but, if they don't, it is less likely you'd win an appeal for unfair consideration of baptism dates for DS2 than for DS1.
You have nothing to lose by appealing (except possibly losing a term's fees at the independent if you win the appeal and cancel your place at the last minute) and people do win this type of appeal where they can show that the delay to baptism was due to illness in the family.

No Tiggy, we have some failing (and one up and coming but not very welcoming to children of a Faith background) state comprehensives locally.

I agree that we have greater grounds for appeal with DS1 than with DS2, as it was purely the convenience of having a baptism at Christmas when we were visiting my parents. We could have made a trip especially, but it would have cost extra £500-600 in tickets. And we could have done it in London with no family and no Godparents present. Had we known how important this was for school, we might have done differently. hmm The concept of Faith schools is alien in both Norway and Poland!

tiggytape Sun 17-Mar-13 17:08:21

It is quite unusual here too PQ. Relatively few Catholic schools have a baptism date requirement - only the really popular ones who use it to sort the Catholic applicants into more manageable admission categories.
There is a school near us that used to have a cut-off date for first Holy Communion too - but that was challenged and eventually changed to just having taken First Holy Communion before applying rather than by a set age.

I know one friend had a similar problem to you and had to get a priest's letter from her own country to explain the late baptism (and then pay to have it translated in a way that was acceptable to the admissions people). Her DS got accepted in the first allocations as they were able to convince the admissions authority to treat them as if the baptism had taken place before 6 months on the basis of special circumstances like yours. They would definitely have appealed otherwise so I do think it is worth giving it a try.

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 17:15:10

pure The UK is 1 of only 4 countries out of the 34 countries in the OECD to have faith based selection for schools, the UK, Ireland, Estonia and Israel.

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 17:25:15

On the basis that we should all count our blessings I suppose you could say that you were in, and hopefully still will be, at least in with a chance of having a choice other than the nearest local non Catholic School with places. As you probably know that was the crux of the recent rift in Richmond, that Catholic parents have always had choices local non Catholic parents did not. This year indeed some non Catholic local parents are being given no choice but the new Catholic School because the non Catholic local schools are oversubscribed, and some feel as strongly against that as you are against your local non faith school. I'd be interested to know what choices have been made for your son's peers in Year 6 at the Catholic Schools.

Copthall, some will actually go to the new school, and did put it high up on their preference list! And incidentally some are going to non faith schools such as Orleans Park and Isleworth, and some to Christs! Some want single sex schools, and some go independent. It is a big spread! We are quite far from the new school, 15 minutes walk east of IPS (where ds seems to be going).

I am sort of also stressing prematurely for DS2 who is in Y3, as he may not be as lucky to get into an independent, and we have even less chance of an RC secondary for him! (Unless I start mending linen and join the choir wink )

"This year indeed some non Catholic local parents are being given no choice but the new Catholic School because the non Catholic local schools are oversubscribed, and some feel as strongly against that as you are against your local non faith school."

That is of course not great for them.
But was it not the case that people were against it because it would be selective on RC grounds and people wanted it to accept a rather large percentage of non-Catholics. Was that not the result of the consultation? I thought the reason it went ahead in the first place was because it had to get non catholic pupils on roll?

muminlondon Sun 17-Mar-13 17:54:52

It went ahead because it was easier and legal for the council to set up an exclusively Catholic school than a free school with 50% community places, which would not have pleased the diocese, and would have met competition from other school groups anyway.

I'm sorry you are disappointed. But note that the new St RR does not stipulate a time limit for baptisms and although certain parishes are higher up the list, it still prioritises 'Other baptised Catholic children' over looked after children or other children who are not Catholic. Apparently in its first year they are undersubscribed as they have been offering places to non-Catholics (who cannot even get into the supposedly less popular sponsored academies, which must now be full). Non-Catholics who accept the offer this year will find their siblings pushed to the bottom of the queue when it does become oversubscribed.

edam Sun 17-Mar-13 18:16:16

It prioritises baptised Catholic children over looked-after children? Is that legal? It's certainly shocking. Looked after children are clearly vulnerable through no fault of their own and obviously sometimes have to move schools and homes quickly again through no fault of their own - it's appalling that a supposedly religious school can kick them down the pecking order, below where they would be in an ordinary state school.

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 18:27:00

No. Right from the start Lord True and the diocese went down the VA route to establish the school precisely to ensure that it would be entirely selective on faith grounds, assuming it was oversubscribed. The Catholic Church are refusing to participate in the Free School programme because it limits faith based selection to 50%. It was Vince Cable, and originally, Gove who suggested 50% faith selection would be a fair compromise between the desires of the local Catholic community and the deep concern amongst local parents about the availability of places in local non faith schools. Lord True successfully defended his right in court to set up a Catholic School with 100% faith based selection.

The only reason non Catholic parents are being offered no choice but St RR (actually not strictly speaking correct assuming RPA is not oversubscribed, they could presumably get in there, except that it seems that most of the parents concerned are in Hampton so it would be a hellish journey) is that the school does not seem to have been as desired as The Council and diocese maintained and has not been popular enough with Catholic parents for the oversubscription criteria to have kicked in, and that local parents were right and there is a shortage of places in local non faith schools. At this stage anyway as of course a lot can change between now and September.

That was this year when there was a slight decrease in the number of pupils coming out of primaries, next year there will be 144 more pupils than this year, the size of a whole new secondary and the only hope of additional places in local non faith schools will be if Turing House gets approved as a free school and finds a suitable site and gets planning approval. The Clifden site would of course have been perfect. I have no issue with Catholic Schools as I have said but I do think that setting up the school at that time on that site with exclusive admissions criteria was deeply unfair in terms of the needs of the community as a whole.

edam Sun 17-Mar-13 18:29:30

what a mess.

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 18:29:58

A bit like your experience of the application of baptism criteria it just seems a little bit lacking in empathy.

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 18:39:28

edam It is indeed and add to that this is in a borough which has one of the highest percentages of children in private schools in the country, far out of step with any measures of affluence. If it had the percentage of children going from state primaties to state secondaries of the average of London's ten most affluent boroughs it would need to establish two new secondary's to take the additional pupils, that figure is so high because parents have felt deprived of local school choice, and so many move or bear the financial strain of going private. The result is that communities formed in nurseries and primaries break up and we have a scary tutor culture . Yet the Council in it's wisdom decided to ignore all those parents and all the bulge classes straining our primaries and prioritise a Catholic School ......

PanelChair Sun 17-Mar-13 18:54:18

I'm in slight disagreement with tiggytape about how - if you decide to appeal - you should present your appeal.

There is not much point in arguing that the six month deadline for infant baptism should have been set aside for you. As has already been said, schools/LEAs have to have published admissions criteria against which to consider applications and if schools/LEAs were to set aside some or all of those criteria for some applicants, so that the admissions criteria effectively said one thing but meant another, there would be even more potential for unfairness and perverse results than there is now.

As with any secondary appeal, you need to present your arguments in terms of the prejudice (disadvantage) to your son in not attending the school outweighing the prejudice to the school in having to admit another pupil. As part of that, you can argue that you want a Catholic school, and can show your commitment as churchgoers and so on, and can even explain why your son was baptised at older than six months, but that is not quite the same thing as trying to persuade the appeal panel to treat him as if he had been baptised before six months. You can present supporting letters from your priest. But the benefit of this approach is that you can also go more widely, by bringing other arguments for your son to attend the school, be that curriculum provision or anything else.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Sun 17-Mar-13 20:42:08

Going on your choice of private school on other threads, it is apparent that you live some distance from CVMS. You have closer Catholic schools that you could have chosen. So why do you like this school so much more? Surely it's largely because it has a better quality of pupil intake. And it has that because it is selective.

I personally find faith selection both unfair and immoral. It attempts to rank people in a rather distasteful ladder of virtue.

I'm sure there are young 'Tri's, 'Quad's and 'Sext's out there who didn't meet the criteria and live even closer to the school. Maybe their parents didn't baptise them soon enough either. Perhaps it was because they were too busy shooting up heroin or lying in a gutter somewhere. Are those children less deserving of a solid Catholic schooling if they wanted it? Really?

The real issue you have is not the selective school that cherry picks its pupils. (If it didn't cherry pick it wouldn't have even made your list as you are so far away.) The problem is with those local comprehensives that are not inspiring any confidence in you.

prh47bridge Sun 17-Mar-13 20:48:53

edam - A faith school must, as a minimum, prioritise looked after children of the faith ahead of all other faith-based criteria. Similarly looked after children who are not of the faith must be prioritised over other children who do not meet the faith criteria. They are allowed to prioritise children meeting faith-based criteria over looked after children who do not meet the faith criteria.

PureQuintessence - I am going to disagree a little with PanelChair for once! CVMS say in their admissions policy:

The Governors will take account of factors which delayed your son’s baptism ONLY if this was as a result of events which were entirely beyond your control and NOT a matter of parental choice. Examples of circumstances beyond parental control include the death/serious illness of a boy’s parent/sibling, serious illness of boy, adoption, delay caused by the parish, (civil) wars, domestic abuse, care proceedings, reception into the Church after the boy’s birth. When you make your application, you must explain what these events were AND you must provide written evidence from a priest or other person acting in a professional capacity which fully corroborates the reasons for delayed baptism.

On that basis there is, in my view, an argument that CVMS should have taken account of your situation. There are clearly some circumstances in which they do set aside the 6 months requirement. The question is whether they should have done so for you.

You should also, as PanelChair says, argue that your son will be disadvantaged by not attending the school.

PanelChair Sun 17-Mar-13 21:07:31

Hmm. I admit I was thinking in general terms about appeals where the child does not fufil the published criteria (whether about baptism or anything else) and hadn't seen this school's admissions criteria. Again, in general terms, there are potentially two aspects of any appeal - were the published criteria correctly and appropriately and, beyond that, will the prejudice to the child outweigh the prejudice to the school? Here, I can see that there is scope for arguing that the governors should have used their discretion.

Floggingmolly Sun 17-Mar-13 21:16:08

CVMS is fiendishly difficult to get a place at; are you sure if you got past the baptism timing you'd have a chance? I think the first criteria is distance; they've effectively filtered out anyone living outside Holland Park.

edam Sun 17-Mar-13 21:18:03

prh47 - that sucks. Looked after children and those with a medical or social need (eg disability) should come top of any list.

BarryShitpeas Sun 17-Mar-13 21:22:57

I am really not sure that the "bullying" culture does exist at the local state secondaries. But I wish you well in your appeal.

PanelChair Sun 17-Mar-13 21:25:48

correctly and appropriately applied ...

Guinevere, I would be keen to know which closer RC secondaries you refer to!
John Bosco is moving in the next year or two. Wimbledon College might be closer in distance, but my neighbours son needs an hour to get there in the morning!

You are absolutely right that the local comprehensive dont inspire confidence. Choosing a school that appears right for your dc is a complex matter is it not, and not only based on Ofsted rating. Ashcroft is rated Outstanding, but my ds would probably end up in the naughty wing and get stuck there! He has experienced some pretty severe bullying, and sometimes act out. I want a school that can show him empathy and see beyond what at first sight could be classified as bad behaviour. He is socially clumsy. Despite not being entirely accepted, he is very happy in his small rc primary. The teachers have tackled his issues with a basis in a Christian Ethos, and do to others as you want them to behave towards you, attitude, trying to show him love and understanding. Great pastoral care is my key feature in a school.

This is why my key questions to teachers and existing pupils alike have been related to bullying, bullying policies and pastoral care, not A level results.

This is what we liked about CVMS and G.

Based on all your great advice, if I do go ahead with an appeal (and no, I dont know if he would have stood a chance if had been baptized in time) I will not just focus on the baptism but the pastoral care and how I believe he will thrive in these schools, and have a lot to give.

admission Sun 17-Mar-13 21:56:11

There appears to be a little used mechanism which is called the certificate of reception into the catholic church. This is I am told is the correct way that a priest can confirm that they accept that a child was not baptised quickly after birth but is considered to be a practicing catholic.
I only know about it because it came up at an admission appeal. If parents are looking to get into a catholic school then can I suggest that they look into getting this certificate organised in plenty of time and that having got they formally ask the schools concerned to confirm that they will accept this as evidence equivalent to on time baptism. If the school does not accept it, even when you have got it, I personally would at an appeal be very minded to say that the governing body as the admission authority have not carried out their correct admission process under such situations,

tiggytape Sun 17-Mar-13 22:11:39

I would definitely follow Panel Chair, prh and admission's suggestions as they are the MN experts on this.
I think the reason my friend went to so much trouble to get a priest's letter from her home country and then get it translated was there was provision in the admission criteria at her school to say 'before 6 months unless there was a compelling reason why this was not possible' or something to that effect.
She proved the compelling reason so got treated as if baptism was before 6 months even though it was later due to illness. If admissions had ignored her proof (they didn't - she got a place on March 1st), she intended to appeal that decision.

Appeals however do still rely on also proving the benefits to the child of attending the school outweigh the prejudice (harm) to the school of accepting one more pupil so you would still need to outline the need for good pastoral care, the curriculum suitability, clubs and extras and of course the faith elements that are important to you and that would benefit your child.

Ironbluemayfly Sun 17-Mar-13 22:20:40

This is all really shocking. All stuff that isn't the child's fault. I hope Pope Francis sorts out the church.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Sun 17-Mar-13 22:36:47

I was thinking of St John Bosco's current location tbh. Although surely when it moves it won't be much further in distance (if at all) than CVMS? Is St RR much different?

I think your reasons for wanting the schools you want is completely understandable. But their advantages are still linked to them being selective. It's much easier and feasible to provide strong pastoral care when all the pupils are all from supportive families.

FWIW, I have a choice of approximately one(1) secondary school unless we go private. Thankfully, it's reasonably well regarded but I've no idea if it's going to be the ideal school for my dc. I do occasionally hear tales of bullying etc, and I'm afraid I just have to stick my fingers in my ears and sing "lalala", whilst praying that it isn't the fate of my own offspring. Fact is, even at the supposedly happiest schools, there'll still be some children who are unhappy.

Guinevere - St John Bosco would be relatively good for us in its current location. But when it moves it will be a long journey involving more than one bus and walks either end. 15 minutes just to get to the nearest bus stop (my walking speed) and then a long bus journey (compared to a short bus journey where it is now). We are sort of R H L way, half way up! St RR an hour by bus and train. I know lots of people put up with very long journeys to and from school, but it would be a lot easier if the child did not have to. Funnily then, because it is only one bus to CVMS it is easier to get there from here than both John Bosco (when it moves) st RR and Wimbledon! Sounds insane!

The thing is, you can never predict! You may THINK you have a clear idea. And nobody wants bullying. At least for us there are lots of choices though neither sound ideal. I am glad we have the independent place, it is a great school, it is a question of how to afford it though. We will just have to, and then when it is ds2s turn, I hope his situation will be different.

tubsywubsy Mon 18-Mar-13 00:18:11

Admission the Rite of Reception, as it is called, is a process by which children, or adults, who have previously been baptised into a Christian church recognised by the Catholic church, may subsequently be received ( or admitted, if you like) into the Catholic Church. It is not a substitute for Christian Baptism.
As Admissions Officer for a Catholic school in a Diocese whose only requirement is for children to be baptised Catholics, or to have been received into the church through this Rite; no mass attendance, priests reference, flower arranging etc, I do find all these criteria dispiriting. The view taken by the Diocese here is that Catholic children have a right to a Catholic education, regardless of whether or not their parents have been able, or willing, to bring them to mass or to take part in parish life.

sashh Mon 18-Mar-13 05:14:31

Many popular Catholic schools use baptism by 6 months as an admissions criteria simply because they are swamped with genuine Catholic applicants and have to find a way of choosing between them.

To put it another way.

Many eastern Europeans do not baptize their child before their first birthday and this keeps those nasty ESOL children out.

OP

It is actually a form of racism, indirect, but probably still illegal, you could try that.

tiggytape Mon 18-Mar-13 07:46:43

There have been some cases referred over this issue but mainly the complaints have been about the schools that give points for flower arranging etc

The school's justification (and I am not defending it either way) is that there are so many Catholics applying to some schools that most will be turned away. The school has to decide which Catholics won't be getting a Catholic education and they do that by choosing those who demonstrate faith best. The alternative is to use distance as the tie breaker which in many parts of London (and many areas elsewhere) basically means parental wealth.

There's an article here about one.

Copthallresident Mon 18-Mar-13 08:19:44

sashh One of the schools OP is applying/appealing to serves a large Polish community and the diocese have used their increasing need for places to assert that people who live in OPs vicinity will no longer be able to get places at that school and so a new school will be needed, though not for some years (so the new school was not needed just desired and therefore they didn't have to go through the Free School process hmm. So clearly they are planning for Eastern Europeans to continue to be able to access the school in increasing numbers in spite of the admissions criteria pure www.richmond.gov.uk/home/council_government_and_democracy/democratic_processes_and_events/browse_committee_documents.htm?mgl=ieListDocuments.aspx&CId=163&MId=2758&Ver=4 these are the minutes in which the Bishop and Paul Barber the diocesan education officer make the assertion about rising birth rates in West London. It doesn't specifically mention Ealings Polish community in the minutes but I am pretty sure Paul Barber was explicit about it at the meeting. There is a link to the webcam of the meeting so you can see exactly what he says. I have no idea if you could use it in an appeal but it certainly suggests that G may be relaxing the criteria. I don't know if you could follow it up with any Polish community organisations in Ealing, especially if your DH has Polish connections, there may be a community awareness of what you need to do to get around this?

prh47bridge Mon 18-Mar-13 10:00:20

sashh - It is highly unlikely a challenge to the admission criteria on the grounds you suggest would succeed. The school is required to have an objective method of determining whether or not a child qualifies under faith based criteria and has certain exemptions from equalities legislation to allow them to do this. Since the Catholic church requires infants to be baptised "within the first few weeks", a requirement that a child be baptised within the first 6 months to gain priority is perfectly acceptable.

prh47bridge Mon 18-Mar-13 10:04:49

edam - Just for clarity, there is no requirement for any schools to give priority to children on social/medical grounds. Many do but it is by no means universal. With regard to looked after children, many faith schools do give top priority to all such children. I have a lot of sympathy for the view that all should do so.

anniesw Mon 18-Mar-13 10:49:10

Why are you not interested in going for the new Catholic school - they must have plenty of space because non Catholics have been offered it, I hear. Isn't that the purpose of this new school - to provide capacity for families like yours? It can't be too far away, given the other schools you mention

This is all food for thought.

In the event that ds2 should secure a place at either G or CVMS (or Thomas More know that we know it exist!), how likely is it that DS1 could get in on the sibling policy? If Ds2 (who is now begging for piano lessons) keeps up with piano maybe he can get a musical place. DS1 is in the school choir and is starting vocal training soon.

I am not sure I totally agree with all the politics surrounding a the whole Faith School issue. But if the schools are so oversubscribed, clearly there is a need for more?

In my sons class, there were only 2 children (including my ds) who did not get into their top choice RC Secondary. This other child has also accepted an independent place, and turned down the state comprehensive.

Startail Mon 18-Mar-13 10:56:10

Be happy that your DSs are getting a far more balanced, rounded and less bigoted education by not going to a RC school.

anniesw, I am not in Richmond, I am across the borough border. It would mean 1 hour and 15 minutes journey by two buses, leaving home 7 am to be in school for 8.30.

prh47bridge Mon 18-Mar-13 11:32:30

I think it is unlikely you will get DS2 into CVMS. He was not baptised within 6 months of birth and your reasons in his case don't seem to justify making an exception. Sibling priority will not override that. You have a better chance with Gunnersbury who do not appear to require baptism within 6 months. If that is correct DS2 should get in on sibling priority.

Unfortunately anti-Catholic bigotry gets trotted out on many threads relating to Catholic schools. Ignore it.

Farewelltoarms Mon 18-Mar-13 11:36:46

Hello Pure, I think it's a shocker that you didn't get in because your boy didn't get baptised in time.
But then it's even more of a shocker that a looked-after child won't be given priority unless he or she is a Catholic looked-after child.
And, frankly, if I'm going to object to those criteria then why not to any criteria that refers to the religious beliefs/commitment/sussed-ness of the parents.
That's the thing, you can't object to one rather petty rule (e.g. baptism) and not object to them all. Having any faith based admissions is utterly illogical. I'm really sorry (genuinely) that you haven't got the school you want, but I think it's unfair that you had far more options than those of us without faith in the first place.
And I really despair of this business in Richmond. I mean god forbid that a Catholic school should have to give half its places to heathens in an area with a desperate shortage of school places...

Farewelltoarms Mon 18-Mar-13 11:39:01

And that's not 'anti-Catholic bigotry' by the way. I'm very equal in my dislike of all faith based admissions (and actually brought up a Catholic myself). Sometimes it can seem as if people are anti-Catholic in these discussions, but I think it's actually because the most egregious criteria do tend to be in Catholic schools such as Cardinal Vaughan (which has a truly shocking percentage of low attainers entering y7).

seeker Mon 18-Mar-13 11:39:30

"Unfortunately anti-Catholic bigotry gets trotted out on many threads relating to Catholic schools. Ignore it."

Such a stupid thing to say!

Farewell "which has a truly shocking percentage of low attainers entering y7"

The children sit an exam. They are selecting 30 children from ability band 1, 60 from ability band 2 and 30 from ability band 3. So, only 25% are "high attainers". Yet all the children seem to do equally well at the end, so I guess the school must be doing something right.

Maybe this is all sort of convincing me that we are better off at the lovely independent "around the corner". Maybe we can apply for a bursary next year.

seeker Mon 18-Mar-13 11:50:21

Has Cardinal Vaughn changed then? It appeared to have 71% high attainers last year......

seeker Mon 18-Mar-13 11:51:06

.... and 2% low attainers........

bamboostalks Mon 18-Mar-13 11:51:45

Vatican II does make it very clear that babies should be baptised within six months of birth. Vatican II does apply to all Catholics and overides local cultural traditions. Our church newsletter frequently reminds parents of this fact.
It is unfortunate when parents delay for all sorts of reasons as a small service within a mass would initiate the baby and avoid this upset. I think part of the problem is that baptisms are now expected to be these huge occasions for which there is no need.

The rejection letter explained the ability bands and distribution of pupils. As my son was in band 1 he was competing for one out of 30 places!
Maybe they regards band 1 and 2 as high attainers?

bamboo, I think you are right, people tend to want to celebrate with family and make an occasion of it. But truly, it is just a thing between the child and God.

Back home, in the church community I grew up (Læstadian, within the Lutheran Church), many opt to get their children baptized by the hospital priest before leaving the hospital. I think this is a great idea.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 18-Mar-13 11:59:12

Seeker - not stupid at all. Factual.

Farewelltoarms Mon 18-Mar-13 11:59:30

Yes but the number of low attainers (i.e. children who didn't get level 4 in their ks2 sats) is 3% i.e. far far below average. Their ability bands are very skewed and not reflective of the general population at all.
Eg low = 3%, Middle = 26%, and high = 71% going by ks2 sats. That is nothing like the general population which has far higher numbers of low and middle.
Mossbourne for example (and analysed rather brilliantly by a poster called KateShrub here www.mumsnet.com/Talk/education/1706501-Confused-by-Schools-results-how-do-I-understand-better) has 18% low, 58% middle and 23% high, which is a much more reflective spread.
Like I say I think it's rubbish that you were penalised but was not part of the appeal of the school that it is so selective (as is reflected in these stats)?

Farewelltoarms Mon 18-Mar-13 12:00:37

sorry crossed posts - Seeker I got 3% low attainers. So that's alright then.

seeker Mon 18-Mar-13 12:04:39

Russian- I have seen no anti catholic bigotry on this thread. Anti faith school sentiment, certainly. And frustration with the way school places are allocated. And frustration with the way schools like Cardinal Vaughn manipulate the banding system. But no bigotry. It is not bigotry to believe that a particular faith group should not have special treatment from a publicly funded education system.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 18-Mar-13 12:09:17

Seeker - how about Startail's post at 10:56:10 in which she charmingly says:

Be happy that your DSs are getting a far more balanced, rounded and less bigoted education by not going to a RC school.

That is bigotry pure and simple. But of course you missed that. (Or gave it a pass......)

I have not seen any anti catholic bigotry either.

Did not take that seriously.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 18-Mar-13 12:11:24

And that's how the bigots get away with it. Why wouldn't you take a nasty little post like that seriously? It was obviously meant seriously.

seeker Mon 18-Mar-13 12:13:57

Ah. I didn't realize that by "anti catholic bigotry being trotted out" you meant any criticism of the catholic faith. My mistake.

Russians, This is not a thread about anti Catholic bigotry, but about secondary education. And taking that point seriously and try to discuss it would derail the thread.

Farewelltoarms Mon 18-Mar-13 12:16:34

Well to be fair some people are not entirely in agreement with the church's teachings on homosexuality and contraception. I'm not sure that it's bigotry to not want your child to follow those particular teachings.
But I agree that it's not helpful to this particular debate and the vast majority of discussion has been very reasonable.
The great appeal of the Catholic church is, in my opinion, that it is so unbending and inflexible in a world where many of us are craving guidance. However, the flip side of this is that it can be, er, unbending and inflexible as is case of the OP.

JakeBullet Mon 18-Mar-13 12:18:09

Pure, I think this is appalling quite honestly and as would be in exactly the same scenario as you because my DS was not baptised until he was 9... and only then because he wanted it to be done. Thankfully our local catholic secondary (which his primary feeds into) has about 40% non catholic intake too.

Can you appeal?

Or do you even want to given their lack of understanding.

Farewelltoarms Mon 18-Mar-13 12:18:27

ps OP friend in very similar situation has daughter who's just got into Sacred Heart with support of lots of documentation. However, a friend of hers second child (i.e. sibling to child already in school) was not admitted on the same grounds.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 18-Mar-13 12:21:53

Seeker it wasn't me who raised the issue. It was another poster. Who you then criticised, unfairly. The bigotry displayed in Startail's post (and also the posts implying a racist motivation behind the baptism rules) is real, and all over MN.

You clearly need to do some diversity training (or perhaps a refresher course in reading comprehension?) since your grasp of what constitutes bigotry and what constitutes un-bigotted criticism of the catholic faith is obviously sadly lacking.

Pure - you're right about the derailing issue but on the other hand, this is how the bigots operate. Pretending that knee-jerk generalising across the entire population of RC schools is anything other than bigotry might be acceptable to you but it isn't to me.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 18-Mar-13 12:27:29

Farewell Well to be fair some people are not entirely in agreement with the church's teachings on homosexuality and contraception. I'm not sure that it's bigotry to not want your child to follow those particular teachings.

Absolutely. I'm one of those people. Well - not on contraception so much (I think the pill is iniquitous and is another one of the Bad Things men have done to women, but this has got little to do with my religious perspective and everything to do with my feminist one) but regarding homosexuality, definitely. I'm not just 'not entirely in agreement', I'm in disagreement. But that wasn't even slightly what startail said, was it. Nope. She was just kneejerk offensive about all RC schools. Not even about the faith, as such - she just dismissed every single RC school in the world. That is textbook bigotry.

seeker Mon 18-Mar-13 12:40:09

Faith schools generally have a somewhat murky record in relation to admissions criteria. And unless there is something very particular about the Cardinal Vaughn catchment area, there is something murky going on there. Which is, if I read the thread properly, relevant to the OP.

Floggingmolly Mon 18-Mar-13 12:51:21

They are completely transparent regarding their admissions criteria, Seeker, the content may be offensive to you, but I don't get where murkiness comes in?

seeker Mon 18-Mar-13 12:59:34

Well, Purequnintessence outlined the school's published banding %ages- and they bear absolutely no resemblance to the make up of the school. Which in itself bears absolutely no resemblance to the population at large. So either I am missing something...............

tiggytape Mon 18-Mar-13 13:01:55

It doesn't really matter why OP wants a faith school - the fact is she does and she qualifies for some but not others. She can appeal but, as prh rightly says, this might still not generate a sibling place because of the 6 month rule (it depends how many categories get in before they run out of places - I don't know the school so wouldn't know. It sounds like it fills up very quickly!).

Some faith schools are very desirable schools, and like all desirable schools (including non-faith ones) their admissions arrangements are highly debated and considered unfair by many people. It is not true to say faith schools = murky admissions because unpopular faith schools have no complaints about their admission arrangements at all!

Popular = open to criticism. There are academies near me that have dropped the social and medical criteria for example and their SEN levels have fallen to way below the national average whereas the community schools still priorotise medical and additional needs so their numbers have gone up. Many parents feel that is discrimation but it is perfectly allowed.
There are grammars in parts of London where parents are at war with the governors or the council over the fact that they have an open door policy and reject children living 20metres away who've passed the test in favour of children living 20 miles away who scored 1 point more on a maths test!

At popular schools there is controversy because the admissions policy isn't about deciding who will get a place, it is mainly about deciding how to fairly reject the vast majority of people who want a place and may even qualify quite highly for one.

They clearly need to fund and build more schools!

But, the question is though, how many secondary children are totally WITHOUT a school place come September? I suspect not many. So I guess it is a question of a very large number of people applying to a small number of popular schools.

This would perhaps not be such a problem if people had more trust in their local and nearest school. In a perfect world, all children would go to their local school and be happy and thrive.

noUggscuse Mon 18-Mar-13 13:09:55

St RR is a short walk from Twickenham station. It would be less than half an hour from Putney or Barnes rail.

£11 train fare daily is less than independent schools fees, thats for sure.

BarryShitpeas Mon 18-Mar-13 13:14:25

He can catch the bus there with his free Oyster card.

Yes, he can, 1 hour and 15 minutes. Two buses from where we live. I think it is a bit far.

He was not offered ST RR either so its a moot point.

BarryShitpeas Mon 18-Mar-13 13:18:38

Sorry that sounded snipey. The whole admissions system, as is discussed here at great length, is a massive, headachey lottery, and if you don't get the result you want it seems very unfair. But you already have a much greater choice than most people due to ability and desire to go private, and eligability for Faith schools. There are many, many schools which will take your son.

BarryShitpeas Mon 18-Mar-13 13:21:49

Also, the 33 goes all the way to Twickenham station, as noUggscuse points out. Surely you are not too far from catching that, as you talk about being close to IPS? And that would make it one bus (I know it's a moot point).

noUggscuse Mon 18-Mar-13 13:22:50

He may not have been offered a place but perhaps the waiting list will be fast moving. Given that it is a new school, the environment might be ideal for a child who has experienced bullying. No older students to intimidate the younger ones. Best of luck whatever school he goes to!

JakeBullet Mon 18-Mar-13 13:23:44

There is always unfairness....

My DS is autistic and I have now lost count of the secondary SENCO's who have told me that they will "struggle to meet" DS's needs. Loosely translated this means "his presence will affect our results"....even though I know they HAVE to give him a place and his needs CAN be met in any mainstream setting with the right support. This negativity included our local popular and oversubscribed non faith secondary school who are in competition with another school locally....neither want DS....because "unless he is pushing Level 4 he won't cope" And tbh I will not send my son to any school who are only taking him because they HAVE to.

Thankfully the local catholic secondary was not off putting and stressed they could be inclusive and care for DS while meeting his needs for an education, now clearly DS is also a Catholic but this is not the criteria under which he will be admitted to secondary school.

It seems if there is a particular issue...be it faith or any other need then there is unfairness.

confused

Many many schools? Choice? Eligible for Faith schools? Negligible for Faith schools you mean. grin

Well, I am not denying that I am lucky to be able to scrape together the fees for an independent. For now. Not sure what we can do about ds2s secondary education as without a sibling in an RC secondary, he will be even less likely in 3 years to be offered a Faith school place. And I do not know that we will be able to pay 2 sets of school fees.

Here is to hoping that DS2 will turn out to be either musically, athletically or academically gifted so he can receive a Scholarship or a full bursary!

Cheers. wine

Barry I am high up the hill! Need to catch a bus down, and take 33 from the Junction.

It is the 18th today, and I think deadline for responding was 15th so the waiting lists should start moving.

Copthallresident Mon 18-Mar-13 13:27:59

pure to get things back on track wink are you aware that the schools adjudicator have ruled Oratory's service criteria discriminatory? www.education.gov.uk/schoolsadjudicator/decisions/database/a00218628/ada2387and2389los They ruled that it was against the admissions code which states 1.9e proscribes criteria which “give priority to children on the basis of any practical or financial support parents may give to the school or any associated organisation, including any religious authority”. It isn't legally binding and I do not know whether someone got another shot at admissions as a result of taking the matter to the adjudicator. However if Oratory respond it doesn't look as though you could start ironing the linen to get DS2 in (and before you start to pounce Russiansonaspree OP and I share this "irony" blush)

It sounds though as you could not invoke an implicit cultural / ethnic bias, rather than social bias, because the church is exempt from the equality discrimination, and can invoke canon law? but there certainly seems to be an issue here which is leading to an unintentional bias in the admissions process.

Fillyjonk75 Mon 18-Mar-13 13:31:41

That's bonkers. Not only do you have to be regular churchgoers but they had to be baptised by 6 months? I had no idea church schools were so strict. I mean yes, obviously they want to discourage people getting their child baptaised just as you come to choose schools but 6 months seems very tight.

tiggytape Mon 18-Mar-13 13:37:49

It is the 18th today, and I think deadline for responding was 15th so the waiting lists should start moving.

No QC - far too early yet. All of the people who have not yet replied aren't assumed to be a 'no' - they are written to again and given more time to reply. The ones who haven't replied can take several more weeks to get an answer from (and they don't lose their place by not responding unless it goes on for a while yet).

And all the people who have replied and said no to a place now have to be entered into the system and processed and the waiting list examined and letters typed up (some areas do letters in batches rather than a 'one decline in one new offer sent' system). The end of March is the earliest really for much movement and in many cases you are looking at way after Easter even if you are high on the lists. It is just a slow process.

seeker Mon 18-Mar-13 13:41:55

My understanding is that Catholic parents have an obligation to baptise their babies as soon after birth as possible, it certainly always used to be the case- but I know things have changed, and this may be one of thm. But it certainly used to be very unusual to have reached 6 months unbqptized.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Mon 18-Mar-13 13:48:15

Quint, you have been offered a faith school, albeit not a Catholic one. I don't know how far out its non-faith catchment stretches but as its oversubscribed I'm guessing you got one of the faith places. You would also have got StRR if you'd put it higher up your list (and probably still could if you go on its waiting list now.)

I have to say, if I was as concerned as you sound like you are that I couldn't afford two sets of school fees then I'd be looking a bit closer at those state schools. I'd concur with noUggscuse that being in a brand new school with no older children could be a great option in your position. Also, a train season ticket from Putney/Barnes to Twickenham would be less than £40/month. That is MASSIVELY cheaper than school fees!

DialsMavis Mon 18-Mar-13 13:49:09

I don't know if is will make you feel better Quint, but I regularly catch a bus that is full of boys from Gunnersbury school, and they are not a good advertisement for the ethos of discipline of the school! I observe all the kids from all of the Ealing Secondary schools when they are out so can make direct comparisons IYSWIM? A lot of the boys from Gunnersbury seem rowdy and aggressive and they are not all polite to bus drivers or passengers. Based on bus behaviour alone they are worse than some of the supposedly rough (by Ealing Standards) comps.

Copthallresident Mon 18-Mar-13 13:55:08

fillyjonk I don't think that many people in the rest of the country can have any idea of the strange world of admissions to certain popular faith schools in London. I can see from the church's point of view that they are trying to find criteria to distinguish between all the many Catholics who apply, and especially to make it hard to become a "strategic" Catholic, and they obviously seek to admit 100% on those criteria.

However the result is that those with the knowledge and resources jump through whatever hoops are raised whilst those who do not find themselves in OPs position. I do not think that invoking canon law is helpful when it is practise to baptise before six months in this country even for a family like mine who did it essentially to please the grandparents and great grandparents, whereas in other countries and cultures different practises prevail, and a family may have no idea that not baptising within six months could have any implications down the line if they find themselves moving to the UK. Faith selection is after all rare in the OECD (only the UK, Estonia, Ireland and Israel) so most families coming from Catholic countries have no experience or knowledge of faith selection.

Those with the resources tend to be white and middle class so the Catholic schools around here do very poorly on measures of social deprivation and ethnicity compared with neighbouring community schools. As I said upthread we could have played it strategically and exempted ourselves from experiencing the consequences of living in a borough where there was a shortage of place in good non faith schools (as in not OFSTED failing) and now a shortage of places altogether.

I find it all very bemusing because where I come from Catholic Schools are very inclusive of a largely immigrant community.

prh47bridge Mon 18-Mar-13 13:55:47

The banding used by CVMS is designed to ensure the intake matches the cohort applying, not the population as a whole. If the applicants are skewed towards high attainers the intake will be similarly skewed. KS2 results in Kensington and Chelsea are significantly better than the national average, although not be enough on its own to explain the CVMS intake. If low performers think they won't get in and therefore don't apply that would skew things further.

The bottom band at CVMS covers the bottom 25% of applicants. If those getting priority on faith grounds happen to be towards the top of the band (e.g. because those are the more motivated parents who attend church regularly to make sure their child gets in) that will again skew the intake.

I don't know if CVMS is fiddling the banding results. Without knowing a lot more about last year's applicants it is impossible to tell.

Floggingmolly Mon 18-Mar-13 13:58:09

Are you in Ealing, Mavis? I'm guessing you never encounter any of the maraudering hordes from Acton High School, or the Gunnersbury boys wouldn't have entered your consciousness...

prh47bridge Mon 18-Mar-13 14:00:58

Fillyjonk75 - My understanding (as a non-Catholic) is that any practising Catholic would be aware of the fact they are supposed to get their child baptised within 6 months of birth. It is a requirement of the church, not just part of school admission criteria. CofE schools do not have a similar requirement.

DialsMavis Mon 18-Mar-13 14:02:03

I am smile

DialsMavis Mon 18-Mar-13 14:04:02

And I have only lived here a year, so only just getting to know the local reputations of the schools.

Floggingmolly Mon 18-Mar-13 14:06:40

Well, Gunnersbury = (very) good. Acton High = (stupendously) bad.

Floggingmolly Mon 18-Mar-13 14:07:39

Not that that's op's problem, of course.

tiggytape Mon 18-Mar-13 14:09:20

That is correct prh. The relevant Canon is 867 which says:
Parents are obliged to see that their infants are baptised within the first few weeks. As soon as possible after the birth, indeed even before it, they are to approach the parish priest to ask for the sacrament for their candidate, and to be themselves duly prepared for it.
If the infant is in danger of death, it is to be baptised without any delay.

Some schools allow exceptions and say something like:
The governing body will presume that the requirements of the relevant canons have been fulfilled when the baptism takes place within six months of birth.
Where baptism takes place after a longer period, but no later than one year, applicants will need to produce evidence to demonstrate that they complied with those requirements, that those requirements did not apply to them or that they were prevented from complying with them by a legitimate cause.

They then give examples like illness, immigration problems etc.

DialsMavis Mon 18-Mar-13 14:12:49

Maybe they just let off a bit of steam on the bus then.
But if I caught DS behaving like that i would be most displeased! I think he will end up somewhere in the middle: Drayton Manor or Elthorne Park High school (Drayton is supposedly quite academic and ofsted !outstanding, but they come in as second worst in my observational behaviour study!)

DialsMavis Mon 18-Mar-13 14:13:45

Please excuse random !

Copthallresident Mon 18-Mar-13 14:28:33

prh47bridge The issue is that whilst it is custom in this country even for non practising Catholics who are pleasing the family, making sure the baby fits the traditional tiny family Christening gown etc it is not the custom in other countries, particularly Eastern European countries and that some of the schools seem to be more flexible about exemptions than others.

MothershipG Mon 18-Mar-13 14:36:54

CVMS is well known for making the rules up as it goes along, even to the extent of fighting with it's own diocese about it's bending of criteria.

My next door neighbour's oldest son goes there, his younger brother didn't get in because of the new 6 month rule, they took it as far as the Ombudsman with no joy. Give up on CV - you have no chance!

Also the pastoral care in faith schools is not necessarily better, a friend of mine had to move her AS son from his 'christian' primary where he was bullied and got no support from staff to the community school my kids go to where he was happy and had no problems at all for the rest of time in primary.

However I confess I struggle to sympathise with those of you that don't get the faith school you want when lots of non denominational children get a lot less choice!

MothershipG Mon 18-Mar-13 14:38:23

Dials My eldest is at Elthorne - sorry for going OT smile

prh47bridge Mon 18-Mar-13 14:48:19

Copthallresident - As Tiggytape points out, this is Catholic canon law. It is not something peculiar to the UK. A practising Catholic in any country should know that they are required to get their child baptised within weeks.

Is there any evidence that Catholics in Eastern European countries are ignoring canon law regarding baptism? Or is this just an assumption? Genuine question - I haven't been able to find any data one way or the other.

To be honest, I would have thought that Catholic parents in Eastern European countries were more likely to get children baptised quickly as they are, on the whole, more religious than the UK. But I may be completely wrong on that.

Copthallresident Mon 18-Mar-13 15:34:06

prh47bridge Only anecdotally, I do have some connections to the Polish community in Ealing and had heard of this as an issue, but not really one I tuned into TBH. I do remember attending baptisms of older children from Eastern Europe in the community I grew up in, but obviously didn't know the circumstances. There have been other posts from people in similar positions on other threads about schools admissions arrangements. Since OP is applying for a school that serves that community in Ealing, and the diocese are open about the need for that school to serve the needs of that community then clearly it might be useful to investigate under what circumstances they relax the requirement. Certainly locally here we have two Catholic Primary Schools one of which serves a Parish whose priest who will not relax the baptism criteria but will give references following two years of church going whilst in a neighbouring Parish the priest will not provide a reference unless parents have a more solid record of churchgoing throughout their lives unless there is evidence of deprivation or they are from a Catholic country (and for them he is willing to recommend relaxation of the baptism criteria)

I honestly dont know what to think. confused

I feel that my belief that a Catholic school was the best option for our boys. But it just seems to be hard and strict and lacking in empathy, which is understandable given the need to seek out the most Catholic of Catholics. I guess following canon law in every aspects of life is a good benchmark.

DH is the Catholic. I am brought up Christian. My dad is favoring Chinese philosophy, my mum follows the teachings of Lars Levi Lestadius, a Swedish reformation preacher who has a large following in North Scandinavia, and has mixed deeply with Sami belief. My sister converted to Catholicism when she was 18. My paternal grandma was of a more Pentecostal flavour. I learnt to never really question why people think what they do, and just read the Bible and make up my own mind. confused

If my dh had told me when ds1 was born that we had to hurry up and baptize him according to Catholic Canon law, when my dad was still in hospital and a wreck of his former self, and my mum in pieces, I think I would have lost it!

Well, we will just see what the waiting list situation will be like!

seeker Mon 18-Mar-13 18:42:38

The most important thing to a child is aware, loving, involved and supportive parents. The school is secondary to that. And it sounds as if your children have that in spades. So I would just go for the most convenient school - and possibly review the situation after the first year.

southnorwoodmum Mon 18-Mar-13 22:57:35

I am from an Eastern European country (not Poland though). Why we do not baptize children early? It is hard to say, but looking at the history we suffered from Soviet occupation and faith was prohibited. You could not freely admit that you are religious, or you could suffer consequences. So we were deprived of religious customs for a long time and had recreate them after Soviet Union collapsed.

Baptism age is never mentioned or rushed by priests in my country. I wasn't aware of the early baptism clause until I have settled in the UK and became aware of this school admission thing. (admittedly I have never fully read the bible).

Another reason may be that we have a long cold season (autumn/winter) with like -10 or -20 degrees of Celsius and no one wants to "torture" a tiny baby in a cold church.. (and churches are not so well heated as in the UK!) so we rather wait for summer, warm weather, family gathering etc.

Basically, I screwed my DS1's future because I did not know of the early baptism requirement even though I was attending the church. DS1 was baptized when he was 17 months - that was the best timing for many reasons. Had I known, I would have been first in a line to baptize. In a way it is funny - I know few British/Irish parents who rushed to baptize their children at 3 months and never went to church until their child was around 3yo.

StarsAtNight Tue 19-Mar-13 13:30:22

At the catholic church service I was at on Sunday the reading was about Jesus intervening to stop a woman being stoned to death for adultery. The priest then discussed the im

StarsAtNight Tue 19-Mar-13 13:45:18

At the catholic church service I was at on Sunday the reading was about Jesus intervening to stop a woman being stoned to death for adultery. The priest then discussed the importance of forgiveness and how god and the church forgive sinners who repent.

Clearly however if you break canon law by not getting your child baptised early you will be judged on this transgression 10 years later, no matter how sorry or whether supported by your parish priest.

To me it seems inconsistent. That said there are lots of things about admissions to catholic schools that upset me more like putting in bulge classes at primary level, granting admission to non catholics and then not allowing the siblings in at a later date.

My advice to the op is to get on the waiting lists for catholic schools that dont use this criteria. She may prefer the ethos of these schools in any case.

Haberdashery Tue 19-Mar-13 14:43:59

>> The most important thing to a child is aware, loving, involved and supportive parents. The school is secondary to that.

Hear hear.

But in fact, as I understand it, the OP has a place at a Christian ethos school which is extremely popular among parents in the local area and which gets very decent results. So I don't really understand why you are so upset, OP. I have never heard anything negative relating to either bullying or assaults about this school in recent years. It was a very different school ten or fifteen years ago, but that's a long time ago in school terms. It was rated good with quite a lot of outstanding features (including achievement and behaviour) not that long ago. I don't have a child there, but I know a lot of people who do. It wouldn't be an option for me when I get to that stage as I prefer non-faith schools but I am in no doubt that it is now doing its job well. Most people would be delighted to be offered a school like this!

starsatnight, sorry, but that is rubbish, its like saying children who live too far away from the school are being punished for not getting a place because they dont live close enough. when a school is oversubscribed, it is oversubscribed and criteria have to be applied strictly. The alternatives are to either bump another child off the list or to create a place which can cause issues with classroom over crowding and limits of resources.

seeker Tue 19-Mar-13 16:09:52

And I hardly think not getting into a catholic
school could be described as "screwing your child's future"!

Floggingmolly Tue 19-Mar-13 16:14:38

For those of us without the grammar school options, seeker, it can seem a little bit like that, you know?

MothershipG Tue 19-Mar-13 16:24:05

Well Flogging maybe you'll have a little bit of sympathy for those of us without the grammer school options who can't play the religious card either!

I don't blame any parent for doing whatever they can to access the best education for their children but the current system is ridiculous, unfair and unethical.

AryaUnderfoot Tue 19-Mar-13 17:05:40

And MothershipG, completely against the original intention of setting up church schools in the first place. Most were originally founded for the education of the poor, who couldn't afford education otherwise.

In our area, there is a very large and very well attended evangelical church. It, without any shadow of a doubt, is largely associated with much of the 'charitable' work that goes on in the town in serving the local area. It runs the food bank, toddler groups exclusively for SEN children and loads of other local support groups.

Ironically, none of its members have any access to the local 'Outstanding' C of E comprehensive which is largely populated by the children of well-informed, white, middle class parents who diligently scour the admission arrangements yearly to ensure they 'tick the boxes' and get themselves onto the electoral roll of the local Anglican Church in order to prove their 'Christianity'.

I'm not sure why the tax paying population should be paying for this.

A couple of years ago the head of the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education suggested that church schools should get back to their original purpose of 'serving the local community' by stopping reserving places for Christian families. His words were quietly ignored by most of the governing bodies of the local VA schools (made up, in large part, by clergy). These schools would claim they 'reserve' no places for church families whilst, on the other hand, using oversubscription criteria that ensure only church families get into such a popular school.

seeker Tue 19-Mar-13 17:39:20

Those of you without grammar school options, floggingmolly, have the option of a comprehensive school.

seeker Tue 19-Mar-13 17:41:29

Sorry, I meant to bold you not strike you out!

MothershipG Tue 19-Mar-13 17:50:53

YY! Arya You are preaching to the choir with me - I'm so frustrated by this, but I've had this argument on here so many times (and quietly supported Seeker having it a million more times) and some people just don't get it and nothing is going to change...argh!

MY DC are fortunate enough to scrape into the local good enough high school by the skin of their teeth, the next street over and if you don't do god your only option is one of the worse performing schools in the UK. But if you're religious there is plenty of choice. hmm

AryaUnderfoot Tue 19-Mar-13 18:09:55

MothershipG we are on the 'other side of the street' as it were. We are in catchment to one of the worst performing comps in the country. I've always said that it's not raw results but progress that is the important measure of a schools success. Unfortunately, it falls down by no small amount on both fronts (hence being on Notice to Improve).

If the situation hasn't improved within the next few years we will exercise our democratic right to move house. We are fortunate that we have the means to do so.

It is all such a lottery isnt it. In ideal world, all schools should be equally good. Then there would not be any ill feelings against Faith schools, and there would be no "playing the game and ticking the boxes". I think the system is totally unfair.

I must say I am a little amused (and annoyed) at the posts that go along the lines of "OP has an offer of a place at a school that I think is good and many people I know would be happy with." We are all different, and we are all judging schools by different criteria. I dont think I should have to defend or explain why a certain school that many other people covet does not tick all our boxes for various reasons. It is a bit beside the point.
Haberdashery and Guenevievre That school was originally my third choice. It would not have been on the list at all had I known that a child that has been very nasty to my son, mocked him, cyber-bullied him, generally been part of making life just a little harder for my son, would be a few years above my son in school.

I know some of you may just turn around and say "well bully for you, you should just get over it, there are nasty kids every where" . My son is a very sensitive and gentle soul, and I want the best for him.

MothershipG Tue 19-Mar-13 18:51:32

Quint we all want the best for our DC so I'm trying to sympathise wink and of course you are right, in a perfect world all schools would be equally good, but you have to understand why some people are peeved that you are railing about your DS getting a place at a school they would be more than happy for their children to have a chance of.

Incidentally if your son is sensitive and delicate I don't think CV would have suited him from what my neighbour tells me about it, although her DS has done well there.

Haberdashery Tue 19-Mar-13 18:56:18

To be fair, that's not what you said. You said there was a problem with bullying and assaults at the school, which is not the case according to anything I've heard. The school was readily identifiable from what you have posted in various places so I was correcting your misinformation as there may be many people reading this who do not have the benefit of other perspectives on which to base their judgments.

BarryShitpeas Tue 19-Mar-13 19:01:15

I'm sorry he has been bullied, and obviously you feel very protective of him (quite rightly). There is no more a culture of bullying at Christ's than there is at CV, or at IPS. In any large school there may be bullying, the test of excellent pastoral care is how swiftly and seriously this is dealt with.

Mind you, pay no attention to me as I am just about to send dd to sinky mcsink school wink.

Lets not get into an argument Haberdashery. I seriously doubt many people would follow me across the board and guess what school we have been offered. I have my reasons for not wanting that school, some personal which I dont want to elaborate on any further, and some based on what other people have said. The only people who has eluded to what school it is, and could give anything away, is in fact you and G!

Haberdashery Tue 19-Mar-13 19:09:05

Actually, I don't think I've said anything about which school it is. But I don't want to argue either. I hope you find the right solution for your son. However, I read a couple of threads related to things I find interesting and it was immediately obvious which schools you are talking about.

Thanks to all of you who have given advice, it is very welcome. I shall not name you all, but this thread has been food for thought!

I especially value the advice from the knowledgeable Education bods. smile (You know who you are)

Haberdashery Tue 19-Mar-13 19:09:50

Just pointing out that I wasn't following you around!

I honestly tried to avoid talking about the school we had been offered, preferring to deal with the school we had not been allocated, which are RC secondaries.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Tue 19-Mar-13 19:38:18

Quint, I'm local(ish) to you, and follow all threads that pop up about local schools. It's because I'm interested, and it's because they're relevant to me and my choices. It was incredibly easy to identify which school you had been allocated as you said in a previous thread (about LOCAL schools) that the head was leaving to go to StRR. I don't imagine that I'm the only local person that made the connection!

It sounds like you have very good personal reasons for not wanting to choose the school, but I do think it was a bit misleading to try to give the impression that you'd been offered some sort of sink comprehensive.

I think a lot of the problem, in London, at least - is with these absolutely amazing selective schools. Schools like the Oratory, CVMS and Tiffins have such fantastic results that they leave ordinary good comprehensives looking rather lack lustre. They're like private schools for free. But they're so exquisitely hard to get into that people close to getting in feel short changed when they don't. (Of course if they weren't so hard to get into they wouldn't have the fantastic results...)

I was not trying to make out I was given a sink comprehensive, I did not want to discuss the school we were allocated because it is a good school and I did not want to upset people who were happy with that school. Just not perhaps as suitable to my ds. I did not expect people to start alluding to it. I wanted to talk about the issue of not being allocated our first RC choices, and what to do in regards to our ds2 who then wont get in on a sibling policy and who might not be able to get into an independent which we wont be able to afford anyway.

MothershipG Tue 19-Mar-13 20:19:24

So to get back to original point of this thread, you will not get DS into CV, it just won't happen, they are a law unto themselves, which means DS2 isn't an issue. So bearing that in mind you need to consider your other options, however unfair that may feel to you.

prh47bridge Tue 19-Mar-13 20:38:20

CVMS may be a law unto themselves but the appeal panel must be independent and must decide the case on its merits. If they decide that the school's failure to exercise its discretion over the late baptism is unreasonable and tell CVMS to admit the school has no choice but to comply. If the appeal panel isn't properly independent either the LGO or, if they take no notice of them, judicial review can be used to put things right.

MothershipG Tue 19-Mar-13 21:27:59

Judicial review it is then - trouble is would you want your son to go to a school you'd had that much of a fight with?

Bottom line, they have decided to include baptism pre-six months as part of their entry requirement and they are sticking to this, including it trumping sibs. As I mentioned up thread my neighbour took this mess as far as the Ombudsman and got no where. They also change the entry requirements on a regular basis, just to confuse matters even more.

seeker Tue 19-Mar-13 21:43:10

"Schools like the Oratory, CVMS and Tiffins have such fantastic results that they leave ordinary good comprehensives looking rather lack lustre"

But that's only because they only have fantastic results kids!!!!!!

Haberdashery Tue 19-Mar-13 21:58:56

I think you're being a bit disingenuous to say you didn't expect people to discuss the place you have been offered when you say things like 'I cannot send him to a school which is well known for bullying, and where kids are assaulted on the bus stop', don't you?!

I don't know about other Catholic schools, but I do know that St RR will prioritise Catholics above non-Catholic siblings of children already attending the school so I imagine that others will be similar? In that case, it doesn't much seem worth winning the fight as your second son won't get in anyway on the basis that he doesn't fulfil the Catholic baptism criterion. So you'd have to have the fight again only without the mitigating factor of your family illness to bring into it. Since your second son is unlikely to get in on sibling policy and you think he might not get into an independent, you either need to think about state options for him or tutor him intensively to make sure he gets into an independent (but that might not work).

I think what this thread (and and you all) are helping me realize is that those schools are just not for us.

1. Not sure I want my children in such rigid atmospheres
2. Even though baptism was mentioned in the rejection I am sure they would be able to come up with more reasons:
a) distance to school
b) no siblings or past siblings on roll
c) no flower arranging wink
d) no taking part in reading and liturgy
d) traveled so much that we have not really managed to have any three consequtive years in one parish, etc.

In no particular order.

So, we wont appeal, but will stay on the waiting lists and see!

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Tue 19-Mar-13 22:10:49

seeker - quite!

And ditto the SW London private schools. They're also stuffed full of those kids of ambitious parents.

It can be very hard to be positive about the comps when all your friends are sending their children to these fabulous faith schools/grammars/independents, though. Most children at my dc's school go to the local comp and are delighted with it, but at the local Catholic school the parents scramble for anything but!

seeker Tue 19-Mar-13 22:14:20

It's wierd- it's one of those moments when I think I must be living in an alternative universe. School A is selective and gets fantastic results- well, no shit Sherlock! School B isn't selective and gets less good results- ditto. Why is that so hard for people to understand?

Millais Tue 19-Mar-13 22:19:16

Useful to look at Value Added though in tandem with results.

seeker Tue 19-Mar-13 22:21:57

Selective schools often have not brilliant value added.

SizzleSazz Tue 19-Mar-13 22:33:30

We used to stuff Tiffins at netball grin <local comp>

singersgirl Tue 19-Mar-13 22:36:37

Yes, the reason these schools appear to be so good is not necessarily because the teaching is any better - but because the raw material is more academically inclined. Some of them may genuinely have better teaching, but you need to look in detail at the value add/progress to see whether they really are doing a better job with the children they take in.

It's a virtuous circle: faith schools select children, selected children get good results, school has reputation for being good, people try even harder to get their children selected, school becomes even more selective...

I also recognise the school your son was offered from what you have said on other threads (which, like other posters, I notice, as I know children at most of the schools you mention) and I don't think your perception of it would chime with most parents' perception. But I accept that this thread is not about your reasons for not wanting that school.

teacherwith2kids Tue 19-Mar-13 22:37:30

To be fair, though, seeker (and as you know I am often with you on these threads), selective schools' value add is affected by ceiling effects (both positively and negatively) and thus is quite hard to compare with that of other schools..

As my DS said the other day (apropos of our localish super super selective, and how he could get the same results as someone there: 'Well, they take GCSEs and I will take GCSEs. The best they can get is an A*, and the best I can get is an A*." It isn't possible to tell from the stats whether the selective school child with an A* got 100% and could have walzed it 2 years early - which is what I mean by ceiling effects.

On the other hand, until recently virtually all superselective entrants will have been reported as L5s, despite the majority probably being higher, so the schools appear to add value whereas in fact it is simply that the levels on entry were under-estimated ...again adding to the unreliability of the results.

prh47bridge Tue 19-Mar-13 23:11:47

PureQuintessence - For clarity, the school cannot use those reasons at appeal.

If the appeal panel decide the governors were wrong to reject your reasons for your son's late baptism they will have to decide if he would have been admitted had he been treated as baptised. This decision will be made using the school's published admission criteria. The school will not be allowed to come up with alternative reasons to refuse admission. If your would have been admitted the appeal panel must decide the appeal in your favour and the school must admit your son.

On the other hand, if the panel decide the governors were right they will then have to consider whether the prejudice to your son through not being admitted outweighs the prejudice to the school through having an additional pupil. Any reasons the school might invent for refusing to admit your son will play no part in this decision. They are completely irrelevant. Again, if the appeal panel come down in your favour the school must admit your son.

If you do appeal the school's case will be that the admission arrangements have been administered correctly in accordance with their admission criteria and your son was rejected as he was not in a high enough category. They will go on to argue that admitting him will cause problems. I would expect them to include stuff about crowding in the corridors, not enough computer equipment and the like. They will not start to invent additional reasons for rejecting your son and they certainly won't include reasons that are not in their admission criteria. If a school behaved like that the appeal panel would be against them from the start.

And although I mentioned judicial review it is highly unlikely you would have to go there. A small number of VA schools refuse to accept rulings by the LGO. According to the statistics I have available CVMS is not one of them.

AryaUnderfoot Wed 20-Mar-13 08:10:20

It's a virtuous circle: faith schools select children, selected children get good results, school has reputation for being good, people try even harder to get their children selected, school becomes even more selective...

Couldn't agree more. I have spent some time teaching in such a school (as well as several others) and this is definitely the case. In addition, such 'good' schools are able to attract better teachers whereas a 'poor' school in certain parts of the country may have precisely zero applicants for teaching jobs in maths or physics.

Unfortunately, this culture can breed a sense of 'entitlement' in both pupils and parents which can ultimately damage the pupils' development. The schools are treated like private schools - we have prayed/paid for this don't you know - and as if they have the resources of a top private school when, in fact, they are still state (under)funded.

High levels of teacher input, parental over-involvement and exam preparation spoon-feeding can create sixth formers with very few independent study skills. The best sixth form group I ever taught was at the local sink comp. The worst was at the highly oversubscribed faith school.

not all faith schools select children. In fact dds is far more ethnically diverse than the local comps. No academic selection at all goes into it but it is a top performing school (high discipline, strong work ethic and perhaps parents do self selection because of that?)

Copthallresident Wed 20-Mar-13 15:28:06

Kitten No academic selection at all goes into it but it is a top performing school (high discipline, strong work ethic and perhaps parents do self selection because of that?) If you read the thread it is not about faith schools selecting academically, it is about the criteria they use to select on faith unintentionally discriminating socially and culturally, because some children do not have parents who had the knowledge and resources to meet them. Op for instance, delayed baptism, though the child was blessed, for reasons of family illness. For some other cultures early baptism is not the norm. Some parents facing the demands of deprivation simply do not have the time to attend.

Your post rather makes the point that faith schools do select....... and as I and other posters feel, that is contrary to a Christian ethos.

<stepping out of thread as feeling way oversensitive today>

<pats kitten on head>

there there. Easy to be sensitive. wink

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