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School Admissions: Certificate of Catholic Practice?

(21 Posts)
paternoster Fri 29-Apr-16 15:55:07

Our local Catholic primary prioritises admissions for baptised Catholics who have a Certificate of Catholic Practice signed declaration by the parish priest, but the policy doesn't say how often we would need to go to church in order to get one, or for how long before we apply. I'm guessing that's the decision of the priest, based on his interpretation of Canon Law about mass attendance, and his benevolence towards transgressions. Does anyone have any experience of this type of policy? How long the practice has to be maintained generally speaking if there's no information about it in the policy?

Marthacliffscumbag Fri 29-Apr-16 15:59:51

I think it's at the discretion of the priest. Some friends of mine had their child baptised in the Catholic church to ensure entry into the local catholic primary school. Straight after the service the priest informed them he wouldn't be giving them the certificate for another 12 months, in which time they had to go to church 3 Sunday's a month! Crafty old goat.

PatriciaHolm Fri 29-Apr-16 17:43:45

According to the admissions code;

"In drawing up their admission arrangements, admission authorities must ensure that the practices and the criteria used to decide the allocation of school places are fair, clear and objective. Parents should be able to look at a set of arrangements and understand easily how places for that school will be allocated."


"Admission authorities must ensure that parents can easily understand how any faith-based criteria will be reasonably satisfied."

I would go back to them and ask them to make it explicitly clear what you need to do. If they won't, then refer them to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator.

Mamabear12 Fri 29-Apr-16 19:38:06

In my experience they have said 3 years, but if you just moved to an area you need to let the priest know this. If you travel, and will miss mass, you must let the priest know. The priest must also know it is good to try and talk to the priest after every mass, volunteer to read or do the creche. Go to church 2-3 times a month is fine, as long as you do the other things as well.

FarAwayHills Fri 29-Apr-16 20:25:14

You would need to be regular church attenders for a few years and not just the year leading up to school applications. I would say at least 2/3 Sunday's a month in most but depends on how oversubscribed the school is.

Lone4anger Sun 01-May-16 14:10:59

Not sure about the question really. If you have had your child baptised, you obviously attended Church prior to having children and you will know your priest. If you are worried that because of work/social life you are not able to attend Church regularly (and it is regular attendance so it could be once a month for example) then raise the question with your priest. I didn't start volunteering to do anything at Church until I had time to do it which, was well after my children had all started at school, so I don't agree that you 'have' to do anything. But equally, if you have your child baptised and don't make the attempt to go to Church it is quite within the priests right to refuse to sign a form. All religious schools are perfectly aware that there are parents who attend church in order to get their child into the school and, the reason that 'regular' is not outlined as for example 'twice a month' is that the demands of family and work life are well known and this wording of regular gives the priest some leeway.

Lone4anger Sun 01-May-16 14:20:44

Oh! forgot to mention that 'service to the Church' is no longer a criteria in the points system...

SavoyCabbage Sun 01-May-16 14:24:36

It's three years at our church.

allegiant Mon 02-May-16 16:27:34

I would go back to them and ask them to make it explicitly clear what you need to do. If they won't, then refer them to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator

PatriciaHolm - Playing devil's advocate, could they not just say they are making it explicitly clear - you need to have a Certificate of Catholic Baptism - and that it is for the church to decide when and how that certificate is to be awarded, just as it is for the award of the baptism certificate?

AnguaResurgam Mon 02-May-16 16:40:13

If you're Catholic churchgoers, just ask the priest next Sunday.

If you're not, it'll look a bit more pointed when you enquire.

But on the general assumption that priority is for active members of the RC congregation, in good standing with the church, the expectation that they can find out from their priest doesn't seem unreasonable.

IonaNE Mon 02-May-16 20:05:34

Catholics have an obligation to go to Mass every Sunday, this does not depend on any interpretation of Canon Law. Saturday evening Vigil Mass (if your parish has one) is a "Sunday Mass", so if you are tied up on a Sunday, go to the Vigil Mass. You can go to any Catholic church (ie. if you are on a day trip, or holiday), including abroad, and you can ask the priest there to give a signature of attendance.

This said, a parish priest will know who practising Catholics are.

t4gnut Tue 03-May-16 08:54:48

Its issued by the church - ask them. Its not unclear and complies entirely with the admissions code.

PatriciaHolm Tue 03-May-16 10:48:00

The admissions authority is required to ensure that the test for getting a certificate, and any forms required to get it completed (such as signed forms from the priest every week) comply with the admissions code. They form part of the admissions arrangements for the school, and as such must be determined annually by the admissions authority, and published publicly by the school.

Schools are required by law to publish their admissions arrangements, and not rely on parents ringing up or talking to anyone to have to figure it out. There are numerous decisions on this by the Office of the Schools Administrator.

hertsandessex Tue 03-May-16 12:04:47

The whole system is a complete sham. Such a shame admission to schools is linked to religion.

t4gnut Tue 03-May-16 15:47:00

Only for faith schools, and if you're not of the faith why would you be choosing it for your child?

llhj Tue 03-May-16 16:05:02

The form actually asks the priest to verify that they know the family and that they're practising. It deliberately does not ask the priest to state for how long or for the priest make a judgement on their attendance.

It's at the discretion of priest and the admissions code have asked the church to design it like that rather than its previous incarnation. So there's little point going back to them saying it lacks clarity as they're the ones who wanted that woolly wording.

Suffice it to say if you're going to mass regularly enough to feel confident about presenting the form then don't worry about the priest signing it.

PatriciaHolm Tue 03-May-16 16:20:57

The guidelines for the certificate of practice issued by the diocese of Westminster state that -

" Practising Catholic means Catholic children from practising Catholic families who comply with the precepts of the Church to attend mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation evidenced by a certificate of Catholic practice from their parish priest or the priest in charge of the Church where the family practises, in the format laid down by the diocese.”

I would imagine that is pretty much the standard definition. If that is on the school website (alongside info about what actually is "the format" for this diocese) then that is fine. If it isn't, I would argue (as someone who sits on appeals panels) that it needs to be, and should give people the info they need.

I appreciate that the code allows faith schools to determine what catholic practise means. But it still needs to be clear to applicants what they need to do!

allegiant Tue 03-May-16 17:01:11

Here it says the new Certificate of Catholic practice has been "agreed between HM Government and the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales," but that there's room for the priest to use his judgement on how weekly attendance is interpreted.

Unlike with the previous system of making attendance requirements explicitly clear in the school's admissions, there's presumably no way of a family appealing if there's disagreement over the priest's judgement.

hertsandessex Thu 05-May-16 11:29:04

t4gnut Tue 03-May-16 15:47:00
Only for faith schools, and if you're not of the faith why would you be choosing it for your child?

The problem is that in the lots of areas the best schools are faith schools in some shape or form. My old school used to have no faith aspect in admission but is now required for some bizarre reason. Children should have access to the best schools regardless of faith. The sham is that that lots of people are not of the faith but pretend in order to manipulate the system and get a place at the school. It is very widespread at some schools.

bananasplat Wed 02-Nov-16 17:12:45

It looks like the whole concept of a "Certificate of Catholic Practice" might need a bit of an overhaul after this dressing down from the Schools Adjudicator ....

HerculesMulligan Sun 20-Nov-16 19:56:45

I wondered if the OP was the litigant parent in that case.

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