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School Catchment and Religon

(19 Posts)
itsonlysubterfuge Sat 05-Dec-15 08:34:05

I'm from America and not really familiar with how catchment works. We are not a religious family and don't want our DD going to a school where religion is a theme. If there are a few schools we are in the catchment area for, but one is Catholic, one is CofE, one is non-religious, would we automatically be accepted into the non-religious school or is there a chance she would be forced to go to one of the religious schools because she wasn't accepted to the other?

Thank you for your help.

SugarPlumTree Sat 05-Dec-15 08:38:52

I think it depends where you live but our catchment school is a voluntary aided C of E. We applied to the non religious one a couple of miles way but no spaces so no alternative but to go to the C of E one as no alternative spaces.

There's also a catholic school round the corner but that operates by itself outside the local schools pyramid and has separate admissions criteria, so that wasn't ever in the equation.

We went on the waiting list for the non religious school but weren't offered a place,

spanieleyes Sat 05-Dec-15 08:40:36

Yes there is, you would need to look at the criteria for application to each school but, in theory if you do not meet the criteria for the non-denominational school you could be assigned to the religious one ( even though usually faith schools are oversubscribed with people who DO want to be there!).

You also need to be aware that there is no such thing as a secular school ( except for perhaps a few free schools maybe!) as all schools have to teach religion and have a "daily act of worship of a mainly Christian nature".

BertrandRussell Sat 05-Dec-15 08:48:20

Depends on whether the schools are oversubscribed or not. If they are you won't get in to them even if you apply. Bear in mind also that even non faith schools in the UK have a certain element of religion- how much depends on the individual school.

Potterwolfie Sat 05-Dec-15 08:50:34

Unlike in America children aren't guaranteed a place at a school near to them, there aren't defined catchment areas as such. You could apply to any school within your local authority's boundaries, depending how far you're willing to travel.

When you apply, you will list your preferred schools and then will be allocated a place according to whether you meet the school's admissions criteria, usually based around cared for children, children with additional needs, whether there are siblings currently in school, distance from school and so on. The LA has to find every child a school place, although due to some schools being more popular than others, you may not get your preferred schools.

All schools have to teach some element of religious education, but having lived in both the UK and a southern US state, I can assure you that religious education over here is much more relaxed than in US private church schools; its more along the lines of multi culturalism and exploring different faiths in a modern context than full on religious indoctrination.

itsonlysubterfuge Sat 05-Dec-15 09:07:57

Yes, I'm happy for her to learn about religions and we plan to teach her about multiple religions when she is a bit older, she is only 3. I just don't want her to go to a school where they teach her how Christianity is true and expects her to pray, etc. I'd much rather tell her about different religions and let her make up her mind about whether she wants to believe, rather than growing up thinking 1 religion is the "right" religion.

Thank you for letting me know, that makes sense. Is there a way to tell if a school is over subscribed? We are trying to find a place to move to and one of the important criteria is a school for DD. We just don't want to move to an area with only 1 great school nearby and her not to get into that one and be stuck in a bad school. Although the more I learn about schools the more I want to home school her.

BondJayneBond Sat 05-Dec-15 09:15:00

When you apply for school places, you list the schools you prefer in order of preference. We get to list 3 schools in my area.

All children applying are ranked according to selection criteria.

For non-denominational schools these are typically (1) children in care; (2) children who have a sibling at the school (3) all other children in order of distance they live from the school. If you live in an area with formal catchment areas, children in catchment will typically rank above children out of catchment .

For religious schools, children of the "right" faith usually rank higher than children of a different faith. E.g. our nearest religious school (Catholic) ranks children in order of (1) Catholic children; (2) Children from other recognised Christian faiths, (3) Children from other faiths; (4) Children of no faith. Children within each group are ranked in order of children in care -> siblings -> all others by distance. So if you don't list a faith on your application form, you're likely to be pretty far down the list for getting in a religious school.

Once all the school applications have been looked at, if your DD is within the number cut-offs for any of your preferred schools, she'll get offered a place. E.g. if she'd be eligible for preferred school 1, preferred school 2 and preferred school 3, she'd get offered a place at preferred school 1. If she'd be eligible for preferred school 2 and preferred school 3, she'd get offered a place at preferred school 2.

If all your preferred schools are oversubscribed to the point where your DD doesn't make the class number cut-off for any of them, then she'll get offered a place at the nearest school with places remaining. If this nearest school is a religious school, then they'll offer her a place there, regardless of her religion.

BondJayneBond Sat 05-Dec-15 09:20:29

Is there a way to tell if a school is over subscribed?

Check the website of your local council.

Our council has a handbook for primary school admissions that you can download, and tables in the back that list all schools in the LA, how many children had the school listed as a preference, how many children the school accepted, and, where the school was oversubscribed, what the criteria was for the last child accepted. So that says stuff like "distance of 0.5 miles" or whatever. Obviously things can change a lot year to year depending on how many children there are, but it should give you some idea.

prh47bridge Sat 05-Dec-15 09:41:34

Don't write off faith schools. Some are less religious than some non-faith schools. Take a look before deciding. Also remember that you have the right to withdraw your child from assembly (which should be broadly Christian in nature even at non-faith schools according to the law, although many schools ignore that) and RE if you wish. There should be little or no religious content outside those periods.

You may be offered a faith school even if you don't want it. If there are no places available at any of your preferred schools the LA will offer you the nearest school with places available. That may be a faith school.

You should accept whatever school the LA offers you. By offering you a place the LA has fulfilled its legal responsibilities. It does not have to come up with an alternative place for your daughter.

A school being oversubscribed isn't necessarily a problem. Parents are allowed to apply for at least 3 schools - some LAs allow more. A school is classed as oversubscribed if the total number of applications naming it as a preference exceeds the number of places available, regardless of whether the parents concerned named the school as their first choice or their last choice. It is quite possible for all schools in the area to be thoroughly oversubscribed but all parents still end up with their first choice.

catslife Sat 05-Dec-15 14:02:09

Agree with prhbridge that I wouldn't write off "religious" schools either.
Many C of E schools aren't particularly religious at all. In fact there's one near us where the Head is an atheist!
All schools in the UK are required to have collective worship that is mostly Christian in character. Learning about different faiths is part of the National curriculum so there is no such thing as a totally non-religious state school. How this is interpreted by different schools varies widely and the best way to find out is by visiting the schools.

talkiinpeace Sat 05-Dec-15 16:21:48

Another atheist speaking up in favour of CofE schools
Catholic schools will be pretty God
but CofE schools, especially outside London are just schools
they cater for all of the kids in the area

and as compulsory RE in British schools has created the most secular nation on the planet its a system I support grin

BertrandRussell Sat 05-Dec-15 16:32:57

"but CofE schools, especially outside London are just schools
they cater for all of the kids in the area"

Well, so long as they are undersubscribed, they do.

Millymollymama Sun 06-Dec-15 00:24:50

What area are you moving to op? Some people will have detailed knowledge of schools if you say where you are thinking of going. Very many schools are excellent so I am surprised you feel that no school will be suitable before you even look. Don't go on newspaper articles or tales of how bad schools are! The majority are just fine. However, doing research on an area and the schools before you move pays dividends.

SugarPlumTree Sun 06-Dec-15 08:27:17

I think it probably depends on the area as to how it works. I don't think DS's school works very differently on admissions to the other two schools in the area like it. Vaguely remember something about entrance due to religion but that was under children who live in catchment . So it fills up from catchment first and then if there are spaces the religious bit comes into play.

We've had major problems with bullying with both DC and therefore I have big issues with it though hope events of this week have been a turning point for the better . But with new Head I will acknowledge he is more aware that a lot of children in the school don't come from religious households and does take that more into account during assemblies according to my very atheist DC.

Mehitabel6 Sun 06-Dec-15 08:32:19

There are no secular schools. They are all Christian- it is just that some are non denominational. A non faith school can be more religious than a faith school.

itsonlysubterfuge Sun 06-Dec-15 08:55:39

Thank you everyone, the only people I have information from are DH, who went to a CofE that did focus on religion heavily and my MiL who went to a Catholic school with Nuns as teachers.

We live in Oldham right now and are thinking of moving somewhere in the Rossendale Valley. I've also been looking at Ashton-in-Makerfield. We need to have a visit around the areas first, see what they are like.

I'm sure we would be able to find a good school, that would be suitable for DD, I'm just very good at worrying and selfishly want to keep my wonderful DD all to myself grin.

Mehitabel6 Sun 06-Dec-15 09:21:01

You will find that lots of villages have one school a Cof E one and that is because the church started one. In 1870 the education act provided a school where there were gaps and no schools. Therefore a lot of new towns got board schools. They were still Christian.

Millymollymama Sun 06-Dec-15 17:17:00

Can you find out which local authority administers the school admissions process for the areas you mention? They will have details of the schools on their web site and should have details of how admission works for each one. Often local authorities run a centralised admissions service but sometimes Voluntary Aided (religious schools that run their own affairs) and academies might be running their own admissions. In my LA these are clearly flagged on the web site. As described above, it should be published as to what distance the school admitted pupils from the neighbouring area. The worst competition for places is in cities or areas where one school is good and the others less so. Living in a pleasant town or village and being happy with the local school will be a real bonus for you and your DD.

The main bit of advice though is to make sure you are a resident in the catchment area of the school you like (this should also be described on the LA website) before the cut off date for applications to the school. Also schools may not recruit directly from their own nursery if other children are higher up the admissions criteria, so check the admissions criteria before you move. Where I live there are no problems with getting into village schools.

prh47bridge Mon 07-Dec-15 00:04:45

Often local authorities run a centralised admissions service but sometimes Voluntary Aided (religious schools that run their own affairs) and academies might be running their own admissions

If you are applying in the normal admissions round you apply to the LA where you live regardless of the type of school involved. The only exception is new free schools where you apply direct to the school for their first year of operation. If you are applying outside the normal admissions round you need to check the LA's website. Some LAs will still handle your application, others tell you to apply direct to the schools involved.

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