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Church school place fraud ?

(102 Posts)
Whydidnoonetellme Thu 01-May-14 09:08:41

We applied to a church school and were rejected on distance.

Since offers day, I have been astounded by the amount of other mums who have got places despite not meeting the strict criteria (attendance twice a month at any of 3 local churches for 2 years, as signed by the vicar, or by a church outside the local area for the same time as signed by the appropriate vicar).

At least 3 of these mums have told me verbally that while they are of that particular religion, they do not go to church regularly.

It appears that in reality, all you need is a vague interest in the church and a friendly vicar to sign off your lies.

Is this worth reporting to anyone ? Would the LA take an interest? I can not imagine the school itself wants to accuse their church or others or lying? Who could hold them to account ?

The schools admissions policy says it will investigate address fraud but mentions nothing else regarding fraud.

Any ideas ?

efy1234 Tue 20-May-14 21:30:36

So we had the answer...its no good,but we have the second choice and its a better (church)school.many thanks again to you all!!!

efy1234 Tue 20-May-14 21:28:00

So we had the answer...its no good,but we have the second choice and its a better (church)school.many thanks again to you all!!!

teacherwith2kids Sun 04-May-14 17:58:27

"Even in cases where people genuinely couldn't complete the forms, the Head cannot fix things to give them a place."

In the school I used to work in - high parental illiteracy but a small community so most prospective pupils were 'known' - it was entirely normal for school staff to sit down with parents of children coming up to Reception age and to fill in their application form. Equally various staff - teahers, head, secretary, whoever the parent felt comfortable with - used to act as scribes to read and fill in forms for the next stage in pupils' education as they moved on. When the LA moved over to online-only application (with the request fo a paper form being buried 3 pages into the online application process) I spent quite a lot of lunchtimes with parents without computers coming in to use the laptops in my classroom to fill in their applications.

tbh, I'm a bit sad that the staff in the school nursery, knowing that they had parents with less-than-perfect English or less-than-perfect knowledge of the application process, didn't offer practical support. I know it's 'not their job', but it still makes me a bit sad. OK if the parent isn't known to the school at all, but in the case of a school-attached nursery, the parent IS known.

crazymum53 Sun 04-May-14 14:16:21

It is possible though that this may not be fraud OP so you do have to be careful.
Usually the church attendance criteria apply if ONE adult with parental responsibility attends church on a regular basis (with or without the child). It cannot be both parents as that discriminates against single parents.
So children could meet this criteria if the mum doesn't attend church if the other parent does so (even if the parents are divorced or separated). If the parents attend separate churches ore more than one church (e.g. one parent catholic and the other C of E) then forms may be submitted from both churches so it may not be that simple.

efy1234 Sat 03-May-14 22:37:33

Thanks ever so much all of you!! I'll let you know soon,don't think it is going to be good news.xxThanks again

Frikadellen Sat 03-May-14 13:25:19

In response to the question about why people choose a church school. When we moved it was the only school with places for all 3 children we had of school age. Dd3 followed her siblings. The school isonow 7 years along over subscribed and highly sought after. We have been happy enough with the school and hence kept dd3 there though she is mow the only of our four still in primary.

So for us it was a non faith matter.

tiggytape Sat 03-May-14 08:15:20

I agree it is a real problem that, for many reasons, people don't always understand how places are allocated, the date they need to apply, the chances of getting a place etc. It happens to quite a lot of people every year.

The deadline date is much earlier than many expect. A whole year for secondary schools and only a bit less for primary.
Each school can have its own criteria so what gets priority in one doesn't in another
The equal preference system and preferences in general are not always understood. People think they have a choice or that they will definitely get one school they list.
The booklets explaining each point can be huge and pretty daunting so people rely on word of mouth which is often out of date eg they assume being in nursery = automatic reception place

It is definitely not possible for the waiting lists to be tweaked though.
It is simply not allowed.
Even in cases where people genuinely couldn't complete the forms, the Head cannot fix things to give them a place. All that can be done is to be added to the waiting list using the corrected church form to show that the child should actually be a higher priority. Hopefully this will lead eventually to an offer.

If it is a school error not a parent error then something more can be done. The parents can appeal on the basis that an error deprived them of a place (but only if the error wasn't down to the parents i the first place).

icecreamsoup Sat 03-May-14 08:01:53

Efy1234, when my DS transferred from nursery to Reception, one of his peers had a potentially related issue. They were disadvantaged because, as recent migrants, they had very limited English, and they didn't understand the system, never mind the wording on the forms. They just assumed that because they were in nursery they would have a place in the school, and nobody sat them down to explain otherwise.

Thankfully, the school found a place from the waiting list for them, although I don't know if they were treated as a special case (there was no automatic priority for nursery applicants, and they had no faith priority, so they could otherwise only have been ranked by distance).

Anyway, my point is that you should talk to the school (preferably the Head or the Inclusion Manager), if you haven't done so already. Even if they can't do anything to prioritise you at this stage, it will perhaps make them more aware of the need to ensure their nursery community all understand the process for transferring to Reception in future.

prh47bridge Sat 03-May-14 01:54:02

If it was your mistake I'm afraid you are unlikely to win your appeal. If it was the school's mistake you should win. If you now submit the correct information to the school you should be at or near the head of the waiting list so may well get a place that way. But the appeal panel can't move you up the waiting list and the school won't until you have completed the forms correctly and supplied the information they need.

efy1234 Sat 03-May-14 00:10:47

Hi, my daughter she in nursery now, but she has been refused reception class (30) for the same church school."We are attending mass and sunday school twice a month,in their school".It is been an error from us in the application form about all these information up the above, we only wrote we were going in the church because we assume they will know and not in their church. so we appeal and we are going soon to the panel with a supporting letter from the Prist.We've heard, there couple of children they're going in another school,but the school filled the spaces from the waiting list.(our house is 249 m distance from the school)So do you think, maybe, we can still have a place in this school after the appeal hearing?please help!!

efy1234 Sat 03-May-14 00:06:58

Hi, my daughter she in nursery now, but she has been refused reception class (30) for the same church school."We are attending mass and sunday school twice a month,in their school".It is been an error from us in the application form about all these information up the above, we only wrote we were going in the church because we assume they will know and not in their church. so we appeal and we are going soon to the panel with a supporting letter from the Prist.We've heard, there couple of children they're going in another school,but the school filled the spaces from the waiting list.So do you think, maybe, we can still have a place in this school after the appeal hearing?please help!!

tricot39 Fri 02-May-14 21:42:24

I haven't read all the comments but as an athiest taxpayer I am annoyed that I am discriminated against when applying to certain schools which happen to have a religious leaning. Now I learn that the whole system is also corrupt. Sigh.....

icecreamsoup Fri 02-May-14 21:40:25

"why on whole faith schools seen to be doing better"

Because they tend to be more socially selective than community schools.

That doesn't mean community schools can't be socially selective too - by house price - but relatively speaking faith schools are even more socially selective. They often select on a combination of both house price and faith criteria.

icecreamsoup Fri 02-May-14 21:34:50

3asAbird said: "all the coe primaries are la controlled"

They may be in your area, but not in others. Many CoE schools are voluntary aided (VA) rather than voluntary controlled (VC).

3asAbird Fri 02-May-14 21:17:58

all the coe primaries are la controlled all the va rc primaries have strct criteria for admissions ie kids living within parish baptised, baptised kids outside the parish, child with 1 baptised catholic parent.

yes at seniors criteria is batism+church attendance and catchment as 2 rc seniors and 1 coe.

Sure a lot will want faith school as they religious but proportion dont want that school o those grounds they want it as its academically good.
Church attendance is falling in uk so see so many oversubscribed faith schools is odd.

catchment no fairer either as will be certain schools i specific areas which be overwhelming afluent or deprived.

so still wondering apart from faith why pick that school

and why on whole faith schools seen to be doing better than community la schools or academys.

icecreamsoup Fri 02-May-14 20:54:59

Just adding to my previous post. Many VA Schools are now converting to academy status, which means they no longer have to even pay 10% of the capital costs - their ongoing costs are fully funded by the state.

In the Richmond example,the school was only created as a VA school, rather than an academy, in order to bypass the 50% admissions rules. It's now converting to academy status and will be allowed to keep its VA admissions policy when it does so.

Whydidnoonetellme Fri 02-May-14 20:54:05

There is no baptism requirement. First is looked after children, next medical needs, siblings, then attending immediately related churches, then living locally within area boundaries but attending any church any location with same sign off by the churches' vicar based on honesty over 2 years. Then distance. No limit on church numbers either.

I'm pretty sure no one in the mums family attends on their behalf, she said as much. She actually criticised people who falsely pretend to believe to get a place. She is a believer without doubt but doesn't feel she should have to prove it by going to church at set times. She felt this was hysterical Englishness! Perhaps she has convinced the admissions team of this too who knows.

If I don't appeal I will always wonder. I will accept their decision gracefully smile

Barbeasty Fri 02-May-14 20:46:06

3asAbird your LA might have only LA controlled Come schools, although that certainly isn't true at secondary if I have your location right, but plenty of CofE schools have religious criteria.

Lots of people choose religious schools because they are religious.

If a Catholic school doesn't teach evolution then you should complain. The Catholic Church preaches evolution so if a school doesn't it isn't teaching to the Catholic faith!

OP it might also be worth contacting the diocese. They could provide a second prong of pushing, especially if cheating means that "proper" followers of the faith are missing out.

icecreamsoup Fri 02-May-14 20:45:18

prh47bridge said: "provided you are willing to pay the taxes needed to buy the land and buildings of all the church schools, and replace those funds currently provided by the church that [churches stopped from being a factor in who does or doesn't get places in schools paid for by tax payers money] is a perfectly respectable position."

The land ownership argument is compelling for legacy church schools, but not for new ones. New Faith Academies created under the Free School programme, and even new VA schools (such as the ones recently established in Richmond), are being given land/buildings owned by the state.

In general, funds provided by the church for VA schools are very minimal these days (10% of capital costs), and in any case tend to be covered by parental contributions.

icecreamsoup Fri 02-May-14 20:15:07

It will have big implications for schools/churches if people start appealing in situations like this, and winning. The church attached to my local CE school has an attendance register, but it has a vested interest because it is prioritised in the admissions criteria. I can't imagine other local churches, that don't have schools attached, wanting the hassle of a register. In fact I know of at least one local vicar who has deliberately signed people's forms, knowing that they haven't fulfilled the criteria, because he resents the fact that members of his congregation have been "poached" by the church attached to the school.

If appeals on these grounds are successful (and I think they should be), I can see one of two things happening; either church attendance will become a bureaucratic nightmare across the board, or non-attached churches will rebel and say they won't sign any more forms, effectively forcing schools to change their admissions criteria.

MumTryingHerBest Fri 02-May-14 20:12:07

tiggytape fully agree :-)

shebird Fri 02-May-14 19:40:37

What are the other criteria? Church attendance is one of criteria for our faith school but it is not very top of the list. Above church attendance is that children have to be baptised catholic and priority is given to those baptised earlier i.e not the week before the form needs to be signed by the priest. Our priest will not sign forms for just anyone and he makes this very clear. Is it possible the DC of person the OP is suspicious of attends church with another family member?

tiggytape Fri 02-May-14 19:14:09

kawlinger - The photography post was meant tongue in cheek I think.
What actually happened in one case here though is that a mother got her child a place at a church school then TOLD other parents that she didn't really attend church. Ever.

That is not sneaking around or being suspicious of fellow parents. It is being told up front that the admissions criteria which denied one person a place aren't even being properly implemented. Of course parents should challenge that!

It isn't about fighting for a school at any cost.

It is about accepting you may not get the school you want if other people qualify for it more than you do but feeling a bit pissed off if it turns out that they didn't qualify but still got a place.

If a school is popular they MUST ensure that the people who get turned down are genuinely the people who qualified least for the places.

kawliga Fri 02-May-14 18:56:16

Appealing doesn't make you a bad person, but it's not about whether you're a bad person or not. Scrambling about, being suspicious of other parents, accusing priests of fraud and saying they are telling lies, stalking your neighbour to take photos and prove that she's not where she said she would be on Sunday morning...this does not make you a bad person but you really have to think about what it says about your character. Sure, there are people in this world who lie and cheat and steal, even priests can be evil, but unless you are a private detective or some kind of guardian of public morality then I don't think it's up to you to go around trying to expose them.

Bear in mind most people are not fighting just for a 'school place', they are just fighting to get their child into a specific school which is said to be the 'best' school where they will have advantages that children at 'lesser' schools don't have. So it's just about being competitive and going to any lengths to ensure your dc do better than other dc.

3asAbird Fri 02-May-14 18:05:05

Can I ask some important questions?

why do people pick church schools in 1st place?

what makes them better?

or is it london its just nearest school?

I know london is skewed.

here outside london city and nearby villages.

All coe schools are la controlled so goes on distance this means no faith places and daughters school is mix of quite a few religions, the school is rated good , gets goo sats, is small. non religious people says its christian light once term they go church next door, only say one prayer day at lunch, vicar sometimes comes assembly and think some can opt out of assembly.

dd1 used go roman catholic primary which required baptism certificate which we had but coe one, church attendance sporadic, we attend christia toddler group once week, easter, xmas sometimes messy church as controlling 3kids by myself on sunday problematic at best.

Rc school had smaller intake than community primaries, went on faith fisrt then remaining distance so was 50%roman catholic, prayed lots more, dident teach evolution, had specialised sex ed prgram from dicocis.It laso had high esl as lots eastern european kids..

I agree on whole the top schools locally are coe but wondered why?

I looked round large mixed deprived counity academy and teacher said they had to ask paretal permission just to do nativity put me off,

But now dd2s been denied entry despite being baptised coe and our faith means nothing as just works on distance.

Not sure what solution is.

people too aceppting of shit schools.

is it worth filing comlian with either local coe or rc diosis office?

senior schools here faith is huge crietria and very few non faith get into coe or rc seniors which are highest performing seniors in city-whats their secret?

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