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Church attendance for faith schools (non-practising parents)

(19 Posts)
lechatnoir Sat 02-May-09 23:46:07

I've started researching schools for my DS next September & am really shock at the high number of faith schools and wondering where that leaves us as non-practising christians grin.

Now I'm more that happy for my son to attend a CofE school - we were both raised & christened Cofe but ironically our already rather sparodic church attendance ground to a halt soon after our DS arrived as we could never face church & baby (or a 10am sunday service blush) but it seems if we want to apply for a place at a CoE school we will need a 'reference' from a minister confirming regular & on-going Church attendance. So what do we do - start going to church to get a reference? And what's the definition of regular and on-going? And if we don't bother with church attendance & therefore can't complete one of their supplementary forms, does that mean we can't apply to their school & will be allocated a non-faith school potentially miles away? angry

To give you an idea of the problem - there are 20 primary schools to cover the town & surrounding villages: 7 are either catholic or diabolical & 10 of the remaining 13 are CofE. Our village & the 2 next village schools are CofE & the nearest non-faith school has an amazing reputation & an intake of only 15 so I gather our chances of entry are slim to none.

Any thoughts/ideas on how best to proceed?
TIA
LCN

PS I am aware this is a potentially dangerous thread but hope I can get some sensible answers without causing an massive bunfight smile

FAQinglovely Sat 02-May-09 23:50:41

Just check the criteria for all of them individually before you panic.

I know that the Catholic Primary school in our town has really strict "rules" for allocation of places. The 3 CoE schools are all allocated in the same way as the rest of the non-faith schools in the area (although one of them has an intake of 6 so competition stiff for that one and usually taken up by siblings and those living practically next door.

thirtypence Sun 03-May-09 00:06:25

Unless you have a massively above average church attendance in your village I would say that some of the schools must be quite flexible with the religious observance.

Ds's school insists that all boys and parents respect the schools religious character and that boys attend school church services. You are never asked about your own beliefs - as long as you get them to church on time in uniform that is enough.

1dilemma Sun 03-May-09 09:48:26

It depends on your schools and your area, in our part of London you have excellent Catholic schools (where regular ongoing church attendence is generally defined as weekly, predating conception and often includes additional contributions to the smooth running of the Church) Catholic schools in neighbouring areas prioritise those Baptised within a certain number of months of birth, and demote those who weren't members of the specific Church 12 months pre-application etc etc. There are excellent (non-religious) schools where houses within the necessary 400 or so metres cost around 1,000,000 so your choice is to be rich or get the first one in and then move to something you can afford and rely on sibling priority. The local CofE is rather less popular (indeed it still has places) and I think church attendence is optional the community schools vary hugely between highly thought of and disasters.
However if it is a village school it may well have less strict criteria.
I suggest checking the schools website to see what it says, check local councils website to see how many of the applications are successful (some will tell you how many in each category-ours does), if you need to ring pupil services at your local council next week and ask themor ring the school the secretary will tell you.
HTH

FAQinglovely Sun 03-May-09 12:09:37

ooooo slightly off topic - 1dilemma - I just had a look on our council website for DS2's infant school (he's already there so no worries about getting in lol) as I didn't realise you could see information on how the places were allocated.

It's a CoE school - but standard LEA admission rules apply. 28 (out of 60) places went to siblings, 20 to children who live closer to the school than any other school and the other 12 out of 61(!) using the distance tiebreaker. Gawd I'm glad the siblings rule for the infant school also extends to the Junior school even thought they'rre not "strictly" linked otherwise DS3 would have no chance in 2yrs time!

ladyjuliafish Sun 03-May-09 12:17:56

Admissions depends on if the school is voluntary controlled or volutary aided. One of them (I think aided) has admissions criteria set by the goveners and will usually prioritise baptised children who attend the attached church and the other has the same criteria as non faith schools. Lots of CofE schools don't have any faith/attendence/baptism criteria at all.

TBCoalman Sun 03-May-09 12:41:11

It varies from school to school/ area to area.

We didn't attend church at all, but we were very involved in many community activities, as were the local CofE church, so we were known to them.

When I went to the school open day the vicar told me to make sure I put his name down as a reference and put my name in a big book at the back of the church.

I suppose they wanted lots of people willing to pitch in with stuff. The school needs to raise lots of funds, so do-gooders like ourselves are welcomed.

I would call the schools you are interested in and ask them about their admission policy. And probably sneakily add my name to the Church's roll.

ajandjjmum Sun 03-May-09 12:45:01

I don't think that just attendance at Church will guarantee you a place - in the school close to us you need to show that you take part in 'Church' life - Brownies etc., and it also seems to help if you can show that your wider family are connected with their Church.

jeanjeannie Sun 03-May-09 13:48:03

Where we are most of the CoE schools demand a minimum of 2yrs continual worship at specified churches and usually there are about 5 named churches and after then they are sort of ranked down a scale of preference.

Most are full before they take non-worshipers sad Ours certainly don't have 'catchements' ...it's calculated within the diocese... that can cover over 20 miles! So, if you chose that school and you worship at one of the 'prefered' churches, even if it's miles away, you will get preference over a non-prefered local church.

My advice would be to check with each school individually as they're all very different here. Places without continual worship over 2 yrs are virtually unheard of, except for one and that's going on our list. Our DDs are getting Christened Serbian Orthodox...not sure they cater anywhere for those!!

lechatnoir Mon 04-May-09 09:55:05

Thanks so much for the repies.

After a few hours online research you certainly weren't wrong about the policy varying from school to school shock. For a couple of small local village schools (sadly not ours sad nearess does take priority over faith, but in the main, it seems we've missed the boat as they require evidence of at least 1, usually 2 years continual (2 x per month) worship at time of application.

Like yours Jeanjeannie (kent perchance?) looking at the past admission vs application numbers I'd be amazed if the good faith schools weren't all snapped up by parents who did their homework a little earlier than us (or putting the cynic in me aside, were regular worshippers pre-children!)

Thanks again for the replies.
LCN

jeanjeannie Mon 04-May-09 12:55:02

Not Kent lechatnoir but Bucks. Faith schools are very competitive in grammar areas as the 11+ pass rate is almost comparable to independents. We're hoping to move out of the grammar system before our DC get to that point - as if they don't pass, then our secondary schools are literally impoverished and dire - so we'll hopefully cross-over to Berkshire and get a half decent comprehensive.

My MIL is a regular worshipper and she says you can see the middle class, pushy parents who suddenly turn up to church - get really involved in all the recreational stuff and then once they've got the form signed, you don't see them for dust grin

EldonAve Mon 04-May-09 13:12:01

I assume you are researching for Sept 2010?

lechatnoir Mon 04-May-09 20:39:37

yup 2010. TBH, the reason I started looking at schools now is because we are planning to move (same general area but unlikely to find what we want in the same village) and quite a few people have questioned why I'd want to move from a village that has such a good primary school just at the point it becomes relevant for us. Well as we clearly aren't 'christian enough' for the school I think moving pre-application time might be the best thing & at least we know to avoid moving close to any of the top faith school that require long-term attendance.

I'd always assumed it was only those parents considering private primary that started thinking about education from birth & had always assumed we'd just apply along with everyone else a year before they start & you get 1 of your top 3 hmm blush grin
LCN

jeanjeannie Mon 04-May-09 20:46:59

Hahaha lechatnoir at your last sentence...that's what I thought! Then again, I thought your catchment school was supposed to be your closest. We have a school literally at the end of our road but after FOUR catchment changes since 2001 our only catchment primary is now the failing one ....a mile away sad angry grin

lechatnoir Mon 04-May-09 21:09:08

Me thinks the joke's on us eh jeanjeanie wink

KathrynAustin Thu 14-May-09 18:13:10

Where we are in SW London faith schools are massively oversubscribed and you will not be considered unless you go to church at least twice a month for 2 years before you apply, you also need to be actively involved in the church and have a letter of support from your priest.

We did fulfill the criteria but did not get offered a place in either of our local CofE schools (0.4 & 0.8 miles from our house).

We have a place in a local state primary which I'm really happy with, but I just wonder who did get those faith places!!

We will continue to go to church as it's important to us, but maybe we'll see a drop off with families who've got the faith places jeanjeannie! That would be annoying....

Flibbertyjibbet Thu 14-May-09 18:40:23

The churches are laughing all the way I think.
They tell you that you need to go for at least twice a month for two years.
So schools-only-parents will do just that thinking they just have to do the minimum. The places will have gone to all the people who go more often than twice a month and for longer than two years.
People near me moan about the attendance being 50 weeks a year and child christened within 6 months of birth. Because thats what the actual practising believing parents do. They don't count how many times they went for how many years, they just get up on a sunday and go, because if you practise any branch of christianity, thats what sundays are for.

<<I'm a very lapsed catholic ex convent girl who has moved house so that my boys can go to a good NON church school>>

I think the fault lies with the education system and not the individual schools.

If all schools were decent then no need for all this stampede to church.

If you are a church school then you give priority to the people who've been going most often and for longest, not the ones who meet some 'minimum critera' because surely by attending for only the minimum is letting them know that you are not actually practising?

Builde Mon 08-Jun-09 13:36:10

Don't rule out schools that 'are awful' in the opinion of middle-class parents who only look at league tables. All league tables really do is tell you the kind of families at the school

They often have the best and most talented teachers. My oldest goes to a very unpopular school but the teaching and atmosphere are excellent and it was highly recommended by all our teacher friends.

Ok, the parents aren't smart and we are probably the wealthiest parents (and we're very middle income) but her teacher is wonderful and the head is a man of great integrity. Their work is differentiated and there are some incredibly bright children in the class.

The more 'with-it' parents are also terribly committed.

On the other hand, if you feel a bit uncomfortable if you are the only parent without a tattoo, you may feel happier in the playground of a selective church school. But your child's academic success is nothing really to do with the school but their innate intelligence and who you are!

NormalMum Mon 08-Jun-09 20:38:39

I would agree with Builde, we are practising catholics and when we moved, our DSs went to the local catholic school- a year later the school was put into special measures! Despite this, both our DSs did really well there, - DS2 scored the highest KS2 SATS in the county. This was a testament to the great teaching he received!
BTW the school is now rated as good, thanks to a new and fantastic head teacher

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