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Catholic Schools

(27 Posts)
katalex Mon 29-Sep-08 13:20:48

We have asked friends how to choose a school and I've seen lots of posts on MN and the consensus seems to be to apply for the closest schools. Our closest is Catholic and is virtually on our doorstep. I have no problem with dd going to a faith school but when I phoned up for an appointment the woman seemed to be trying to put me off applying. She was emphasising that they are Catholic and give priority to Catholic children. Our next closest is C of E. We went to visit on Friday and they said that they are only allowed to give 50% of their places to children on religious grounds. Do Catholic schools work the same way? Having looked at admissions criteria, location is the only thing we have on our side so we don't want to shoot ourselves in the foot by not applying to the closest school. What would you do?

frogs Mon 29-Sep-08 13:27:46

You need to find out how over-subscribed they are, and how many children got in under each of the admissions criteria.

Generally catholic schools do not have a set proportion of places for non-catholics -- they will admit catholics first and then give other places according to the criteria set out. For over-subscribed schools that may mean that there are actually no places available for anyone other than practising catholics with a smarmy priest's refrence. In other catholic schools, catholics may be in a minority.

The LEA brochure should tell you how many children got in under each criterion over the last few years, so you can work out whether you'd get a place or not. Having said that, Catholic schools generally are pretty, well, Catholic, so you'd have make sure you were okay with the religious aspect before applying.

angelene Mon 29-Sep-08 13:35:40

DH is head of RE at a Catholic (secondary) school. There was talk some time back of non-Catholic 'quotas' in Catholic schools, but that didn't happen (much to MIL's relief hmm). So it depends on whether there's a space for her after all the Catholic kids are accommodated.

I would apply if that's the school you really want her to attend. I would also try and see someone else in the school to talk to, you might have just got someone in the office who feels that it's her responsibility to uphold the intergrity of Catholic ethos etc etc (i.e. An Old Bat).

frogs Mon 29-Sep-08 13:38:57

Yes, do check the published admissions criteria properly. IME the school office at catholic primary schools tends to be staffed by an Old Dragon who has often been in the school in some capacity for about 100 years, and is likely to be strong on Opinions but low on actual Facts.

smile

PortAndLemon Mon 29-Sep-08 13:42:42

In my area the only children who get in to the Catholic school (which is our nearest school) are those whose parents have consistently attended Sunday Mass for years (there's a signing-in book at the back of the church every week). If a child was even from a so-so paractising or lapsed Catholic family then they wouldn't get it; a non-Catholic just wouldn't stand a chance. The same thing applies to the local CofE school (although obviously for the CofE church).

Not all areas are like that, but as frogs says you need to find out what the reality is in your area. If there's no chance of a non-Catholic getting in then there's no point your applying.

LynetteScavo Mon 29-Sep-08 13:45:36

LOL frogs - I thought that was just our Catholic school. grin

You would probably get a clearer indication from the head, katalex, as to whether your DC would get in or not.

LynetteScavo Mon 29-Sep-08 13:47:47

PortAndLemon - I would be so tempted to nip in to the church and sign the book without sitting through Mass wink

LadyOfWaffle Mon 29-Sep-08 13:49:57

Skipping from OP - our Catholic school had 82 apply last year for 30 places. The bottom of the priority list is 'unbaptised' (in any faith). It may be different with your local one, but I would doubt you would get in TBH.

PortAndLemon Mon 29-Sep-08 13:51:16

In one even-more-picky area I know of, they hand out attendance slips at the beginning of Mass and collect them in at the end, so you need to be there at the beginning and the end (a different colour each week, so you can't just build up a stock and pop in at the end to get your slip collected). Apparently there are some families who do just what you described at our local church, but I guess it shows commitment of a sort to do that every week for three or four years.

Blu Mon 29-Sep-08 13:52:40

Unless you are Catholic (or in over-subscribed areas, CoE) 'your nearest school' means 'your nearest LEA community school with no religious admission criteria'.

katalex Mon 29-Sep-08 13:53:53

Thanks. I was told that they had to turn down a lot of Catholic children last year (they only have 30 places) so if they only take Catholic children then dd definitely won't get in.

I'm not sure about the Catholic aspect tbh. I went to a C of E school and it wasn't that religious apart from a service from the vicar on a Friday morning and a few trips per year to the church. Are Catholic schools very different?

Do you know where I can get the LEA brochure frogs? Or is there a web site that contains this info?

LadyOfWaffle Mon 29-Sep-08 13:54:35

I think that's awful P & L. I thought ours seemed extreme for saying you MUST attend at least once a fortnight. It means someone can just turn up to mass every 2 weeks and tick the right boxes, but I practise mainly at home because I suffer badly with depression/anxiety and DS will be discriminated against for it.

frogs Mon 29-Sep-08 13:55:21

shock at signing-in books and slips! Ours don't do anything like that, though in practice the priests have a pretty good idea of what's going on.

frogs Mon 29-Sep-08 14:01:12

The primary schools brochure for our LEA, for example is here. But all LEAs should produce something similar.

But realistically, if they're turning catholics away, there's not going to be much point applying.

katalex Mon 29-Sep-08 14:09:59

Thanks. Appreciate all your advice smile

MrsMattie Mon 29-Sep-08 16:29:55

Apply for the nearest non-denominational schools if you aren't religious. Any good RC school will give priority to practising Catholic families.

MadBadandDangeroustoKnow Mon 29-Sep-08 17:17:57

I'm a governor of a CofE primary school. We set aside a third of our places each year as 'community places', ie open to anyone and no proof needed of church attendance. I think that many other CofE schools do something similar, so all the more reason to check what the admissions criteria are at your local school.

mapleleaf Mon 29-Sep-08 19:04:06

What LEA is it ? Maybe someone here can help better, as it seems to vary around the country. In our borough there is no chance a non practising catholic (regular mass attendance) would get in.

I would also be careful about dismissing the admissions secretary who answers the phone as often they are school governors. One of our local ones was a right old bat but seeing as she was a governor no one dare complained.

katalex Tue 30-Sep-08 10:58:08

Hi mapleleaf. We are in Kent. The school is in Gravesham.

MollieO Tue 30-Sep-08 15:12:00

Our local catholic schools simply require that you have been baptised Catholic. No church commitment required and our biggest local Catholic church (with attached school) only has a family mass once a month. The Catholic families I know who send their children there are lapsed (putting it politely) and had no problem. The school itself decides on admissions. Contrast that with our local CofE where you have to show you've been to church at least 2x month for 3 years and you still aren't guaranteed a place as it is decided by the LEA and denominational reasons are one above the 'all other' category.

galaxy Thu 02-Oct-08 13:53:53

We're not Catholic, dd is not baptised and our Catholic school,is 1.5 miles away (2 other primaries closer). We put Catholica school as 1st choice and didn't get in stratoght away but went on waiting list and got called 3 weeks after to say she was in. However, our 2nd and 3rd choices were 2 other local schools and when we didn't get into the 1st choice originally, we were offered a school we hadn't put down as 1 of our 3 choices. It's a gamble really!

RhubarbEatsBiscuitsOnTheBog Thu 02-Oct-08 14:00:29

I am a catholic and our local catholic school has a very good reputation. But I have refused to put my kids in there.

They do lots of faith activities. They pray every morning and learn about God, they have prayer before lunch in some schools, they attend Church services as a school, they put on Bible story plays, they are taught Catholic practices and rituals and are encouraged to go to church every Sunday and Holy Day. If you are not comfortable with that then don't send them.

I'm a practising catholic but I believe that faith and religious beliefs should be taught at home. I have a lot of problems with the catholic church, not faith, and therefore don't want my children being told things I don't agree with. I want them taught English, Maths, History, Geography etc. I don't send them to school so they can be "spiritualised".

Mine go to the local non-denominational school. It wasn't our first choice, but we had a look around and were impressed by the teachers' enthusiasm for the children, by the friendly vibe and patience, by the wonderful displays and happy children.

Visit these schools. Very often the catholic schools tend to be rude and ignorant because they know they are the "best" education-wise, after all they have a lot of money thrown at them. But they might not be best for your children and if the staff are rude to parents, how will they be to your children?

galaxy Thu 02-Oct-08 14:18:49

dd's school appears to be very parochial and has a good reputation. I'e had some wobbles over the amount of "religion" but we always knew that was a bridge we'd cross - she enjoys the masses, hymn practices etc and the prayers (did have to say something when she stood in the toilet queue in Debenhams saying Hail Marys)!

My main "wobble" has come from how OTT they seem to be on discipline for infants. DD was made to stand at the back of the class last week for 10 minutes becuse she was talking too much and on her 1st PE lesson in Y1 was threatened to sent to the Head for talking. (She does talk too much but I think that's OTT). LGJ will probably tell me to not be so silly given that our kids are at the same school!

RhubarbEatsBiscuitsOnTheBog Thu 02-Oct-08 14:20:44

But that's why they have such a good reputation, because they tend to be very disciplinarian. All very good, but at the end of the day they are just children. Children learn better when they feel cared for and valued, not when they feel threatened and scared.

QuintessentialShadow Thu 02-Oct-08 14:22:53

Rhubarbs post is spot on.

Our son spent two years at a very good, oversubscribed Catholic Faith school. Although it was very academic oriented, he only learnt religious songs, and his talk about God and Jesus was slightly unnerving at times, even for us who are believers (I am a Christian, dh is Catholic).

The other thing is that from my experience, the other mums were either middleclass sahms with 3-4 kids, some planning more, or middleclass workaholic mums with nannies for their 3+ children. The level of involvment with the school was very high, with parents being requested to help staff the library, come in and read, come on outings, bake bake bake for cake stalls, take part in religious festivities in school, but most importantly be seen on the sunday, take voluntary roles in the Church AND CHAT about the service...

MOST IMPORTANT:
As we came from outside the parish, and lived a bit away from the school, going for sunday worship was really not part of our priority. My son therefore did not already know the other children in his class, and they all knew eachother from Church and sunday school. Very few mums were keen on arranging playdates with my son. I had to work really hard, and although they were friendly, my son was not really accepted.
In the end, it was my au pair befriending the nannies which was the ticket to playdates.

Think carefully.

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