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Can someone tell me about catholic schools

(23 Posts)
pepsi Wed 26-May-04 14:33:33

We are non-catholics but our ds has been given a place in a local catholic school which has a wonderful reputation, we visited the school this week and we couldnt fault it. DS is currently at a private nursery and has social problems and poor motor skills and is generally "behind average" whatever that is, it may be because of a hearing problem he had when he was younger, but we will never know I guess. He is due to see a specialist soon to assess whats going on. Anyway we feel private school is not the best thing for him now, but have missed the boat on admisssions for Jan 2005 in reception so are extremely lucky to have been offered a place in such a good school....a pupil is moving abroad so it was just timing really. The two schools closest to me are really poor and I have never heard anything good about them so feel that he really does need a school that can support any needs he may have as he grows up. This schools offers all that but Im just worried about the religious side as we are not religious and he might find it confusing to be praying every morning. I think we will have to go with it as we dont really have any other choice. The private school he is at only takes boys until the are 7 so Im really worried that if he stays there when he gets to 7 we wouldnt get him into a good school/wherever he went he couldnt make friends. Advice please.

serenequeen Wed 26-May-04 14:42:54

sorry, not sure exactly what the issue is? are you worried about the religious element of catholic education?

donnie Wed 26-May-04 14:45:34

there have been some very heated threads about religious schools on this board! my view of your ds's situation is that if it's a good school - great! he'll probably enjoy the new religious side of things and it will offer a new perspective on life which he hasn't yet discovered. Religious schools are almost always quite liberal and tolerant in England so I would not worry that it's going to be extreme or 'fundamentalist'.I hope he enjoys it.

pepsi Wed 26-May-04 14:46:47

Yes I am, not being religious ourselves I cant imagine our children actively praying every day. Im not against them learning about any religion but am just worried that there might be quite a lot of religious studies at such a school. Its probably my own ignorance coming out. We are worried that it might be confusing for our ds to pray at school when he doesnt see antyhing like that at home. I just wondered how up front they are or whether everything is quite low key.

marialuisa Wed 26-May-04 14:50:54

Well, TBH I think your DS will probably take the "praying" in his stride, but you might be a bit disconcerted! I'm RC and so is DD but DH an atehist, he was slightly freaked out when she started singing grace before meals (this phase soon passed) but IME the religious stuff is unlikely to be that "hardcore" in Reception. Yes, there will be prayers, but they won't be expecting him to say his catechism or anything. They tend to limit it to stories from the Bible/about a saint and a picture to colour in.

The school should be able to tell you the proportin of RC:non-RC pupils in the school and it might surprise you. My bro goes to an RC convent primary where 40% are non-RC, for example.

I think non-RCs can find the crucifixes, saints etc. a bit strange but the kids just treat them as part of the furniture.

donnie Wed 26-May-04 14:52:35

they will learn about ALL religions pepsi - the national curriculum dictates that all children will learn about all major world religions.

marialuisa Wed 26-May-04 14:53:44

and most primary kids "pray" at school everyday so I shouldn't worry. The school probably uses the "Here I am" programme further up the school, why don't you ask to see the books so you can get a feel for what's taught? The actual time spent on RE probably isn't that different to other schools, they still have to do all the national curriculum stuff.

serenequeen Wed 26-May-04 15:09:29

agree with comments so far, the religious aspect *probably* won't be too heavy duty in reception anyway... and the school will have to conform to the national curriculum.

BUT if in doubt

- ask the school exactly what the "religious" content of the day is, what format it takes
- do as others suggest and check out the proportion of rc v. non rc - if a high proportion of non rc, you could check to see if there is an opt out
- have another look around the school and see to what degree religious symbols and pictures are displayed. some catholic imagery is violent and you may feel disturbed by it
- are any masses included in the time table e.g. for feast days
- ask what your child will do during preparation for first holy communion - being non-catholic you will not want him to do this, what will he do while the other children are having their preparation
- ask yourself what you will do if confronted by statements picked up at school that you disagree with

if you choose this route for your child, he will inevitably be exposed to catholic teaching, imagery, symbols and beliefs. go in with your eyes open and ask yourself honestly if this is what you want.

hth and good luck.

Sonnet Wed 26-May-04 15:21:17

Agree with what others have said about low key etc.
Agree with Serenequeen re"asking yourself if this is what you want" - and if in doubt choose another school.

Sonnet Wed 26-May-04 15:22:57

"violent catholic imagery" in primary schools - gosh you've had some experience Serenequeen!

serenequeen Wed 26-May-04 15:34:44

crucifixion, anyone? i don't like ds seeing it at mass - we'd never let him watch anything like that on tv... sacred heart?

fluffy liberal catholic dh still splutters about the catholic education i received at the hands of "loony pre-vatican ii nuns" - in the 70s and 80s - well after vatican ii!

Sonnet Wed 26-May-04 15:44:10

I must have had a fluffy liberal catholic education then.

annh Wed 26-May-04 15:52:41

Don't really know what kind of advice you are after but would say that if you leave your son in his private school, surely all his boy friends will also be leaving at 7 and presumably some of them will end up at the same school as him? His school is probably also a feeder for a number of schools and if you don't already know which ones they are, I'm sure theHead would be happy to advise you.

With regards to the religious aspect of the Catholic school, our ds1 goes to a Catholic state school and we do find it quite religious. This is not a problem for us as we are practising Catholics but apart from the morning prayers, you may find a religious point of view creeping into parts of the day. In ds1's school each class has a class liturgy each year, there are various full-school masses, he seems to have learned a lot of hymns and sometimes he comes out with sentences such as "When God created gravity ....!" I'm not saying that religion is being forced on the children, ds1 may well have decided for himself that God created gravity but there is a definite religious bias.

I also think that if the school is very over-subscribed you will find that many (all?) of the children will be Catholic and at least some will be attending church, doing children's liturgy together at church on Sunday, making First Communion together. This would certainly be the case at ds's school.

marialuisa Wed 26-May-04 15:52:47

yep, me too!

DD thinks the sacred heart is great, she pleaded for one of those truly naff lamps when we were on holiday...Methinks she doesn't quite "get it!.

Sonnet Wed 26-May-04 16:25:50

sorry Ml - But LOL at your DD and the lamps!!

Pepsi, what annh writes describes to a T my own expereinces at a catholic primary school.

frogs Wed 26-May-04 17:11:38

My children's Catholic school is very oversubscribed, so all the children come (at least in theory) from practising Catholic families.

There is quite a lot of religious education, but it's delivered in a fairly low-key sort of way, using the 'Here I Am' programme Marialuisa mentions. The teaching tends to focus on teaching the children things which are religious in a wider sense, and which most people wouldn't object to violently, eg. What makes me happy? What makes me sad? Topics like baptism are approached from the point of view of 'belonging', so the children will look at birthdays and celebrations more generally before tying these experiences into specific aspects of Catholic teaching.

I think (hope) that the days of the loonier excesses of Catholic teaching are over, although I'm prepared to stand corrected...

I remember your earlier thread, pepsi, and it looks as if things are sorting themselves out for your ds. Hopefully you should find that the school is a caring community in which each individual is valued for themselves and encouraged to become the person they were meant to be.

serenequeen Wed 26-May-04 17:25:10

"I think (hope) that the days of the loonier excesses of Catholic teaching are over.."

i hope so too, otherwise we wouldn't be contemplating it for ds. my point below though is related to the fact that even in a "fluffy" catholic school it is a given that the children will see crucifixes, attend mass, learn hymns, be taught catholic doctrine, be prepared for the sacraments, even if it is in a "low key" way.

Thomcat Wed 26-May-04 18:03:03

All I can say in my limited experience is that I have so often heard people talk about the fantastic reputation catholic schools have. The local one to us has been recommended by everyone we see/talk to. Lottie has Down's syndrome and all the medical professionals that see us, our portage worker, everyone, all say this school is great. I overhear peoplke talking about it etc etc.

At the end of the day if you can't fault the school and you can the others in the area, where's the issue iykwim.

My DP and his best mate now both went to catholic schools and neither are religious or anything but both had good educations etc.

pepsi Wed 26-May-04 19:18:47

Thanks all and thanks serenequeen, I think I do need to call and just ask a few questions so I have things clear. I know they do take non-catholics, we were accepted in less than a week and before they even met us so it doesnt look like we were up against another catholic family. As I said before its my own ignorance on the subject that frighens me so I need to do my homework. At the end of the day everyone I have spoken to has said how lucky we are to get a place there and how brilliant it is so on every other level we would be nuts to turn it down. We are just terrified about getting it wrong for ds as the poor little thing as already had enough problems to deal with and we really dont want to move him after this. There are only 15 in his class at the moment, half of them boys, and he only seems to gel with 1 of them at the moment. I know this boy is going to continue down the private route so I dont think when hes 7 he would necessarily be going on to school with people he knows and we will be taking a huge risk as to where we get a place, as I said the two schools right on our doorstep are very very poor, the only other option would be to move, which we are prepared to do if we have to. Perhaps I worry to much and should just let things take their course a bit more.

Kittypickle Wed 26-May-04 19:32:30

I found that when choosing a school, you do really need to go and have a look around and a chat to the head. I decided against our local catholic school despite it's excellent reputation and ofsted as I didn't feel the atmosphere and ethos of the school would suit my DD (DH & I are both baptised Catholics but don't go to Church). I think you really need to go and look at it and see how you feel then.

pepsi Wed 26-May-04 19:35:41

If there is anyone who is non-catholic in a catholic school perhaps I could hear from you.

We went over the school yesterday and we both really liked it, couldnt fault it and all the children were very happy and the staff very pleasant, unfortunately the head couldnt make it and two children showed us around, they were very good. I just found it hard looking at all the religious symbols and seeing a praying table in every class, I got nothing against it, its just a bit alien to what I know I guess.

carriemac Wed 26-May-04 21:36:38

pepsi, just consider yourself lucky to get a place in a good school. The ethos in our Rc school is very 'inclusive' even down to no-one being left out of play etc. I feel they really ni=urture the individual child - and are up there in the league tables too(we are not church goers BTW)

pepsi Thu 27-May-04 13:06:08

Carriemac you are right and I do feel that we are very lucky, but as always I always have to panic about something, when you weigh everything up everything is actually going right for us.

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