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The John Fisher School, Purley

(82 Posts)
marsbar22 Fri 04-Feb-11 19:59:22

I wondered if any parents had experienced difficulties with the admissions process we found that the John Fisher School does not adhere to it's own admission policy. In the process of applying for a place for our son we discovered that a boy was given a place in Sept 2010 who was not baptised in the first year. By the school's policy this makes the boy a subcategory C when the school governors stated that the school was oversubscribed with subcategory A candidates. The school governors can and do make discretionary decisions based on appeals received from parents at admission rather than at the appeal process. The Governors obviously feel that their opinions matter more than the published criteria which is odd as they changed the admissions policy in an attempt to make it fairer!

AngelEyes46 Wed 14-Nov-12 22:13:24

That's a shame Monty that you/your dcs were not happy. It wouldn't be allowed now about taking your marital status into account. St Jo's is in the main catholic selective although they do admit 10% on academic ability. Thomas More ask for RC but if under subscribed will take those that are not. I don't know if i agree with PWB (as I'm not sure if she's agreeing with selection through faith). Maybe St Jo's has got it right (partially) in that there should be a percentage of non-catholic DCs admitted. I don't think that should be through academic ability though but maybe distance?

Monty27 Wed 14-Nov-12 22:18:02

Hi Angel, I don't think Thomas More's is ever undersubscribed though (if its the same one I'm thinking of).

Dd was very happy at her girl only rc secondary school (and then went to non rc 6th form), ds hated every minute at St J's. He's now at non rc 6th form and happy.

Hth smile

penelopewellingtonbowes Sat 17-Nov-12 20:20:50

AngelEyes what I'm agreeing is with John Fisher interviewing and examining candidates so as to weed out the bad apples.

AngelEyes46 Mon 19-Nov-12 20:58:45

Oh dear pwb - i think your comment could put the cat among the pigeons! Are you saying that Monty's family is a bad apple as that's the very reason her ds did not get in due to her being a single mother. I totally agree with faith schools (although I know a lot of mnetrs don't) but I can't condone selection based on family circumstances. JF was wrong to not admit her ds due to her not being married and they weren't the only school to do this either. Coloma asked for marriage certificate but the bible stated that divorce can be allowed.

penelopewellingtonbowes Tue 20-Nov-12 09:48:40

Look AngelEyes, the reason Fisher used to be nicknamed 'Catholic Grammar' and known as the best catholic boys school in Surrey was because it was highly selective and results consistently high.

I think we are naieve to think JF would have simply given up its reputation at the end of the selection policy.

Most of the boys who are currently studying at John Fisher come from middle-class backgrounds; some are even sent there as an alternative to Whitgift and Epsom College. This was most certainly the case during the early-late 1990's when the selection policy was still in effect.

I am not saying divorce is a class thing; that would be ridiculous, I am merely saying most boys come from stable, middle-high income homes.

penelopewellingtonbowes Wed 21-Nov-12 11:53:17

It's also worth mentioning...during the 1990's selection policy the JFA (the charitable body which does lots of JF's funding) provided a number of scholarships and travel bursaries for children from lower-income families living many miles from the school.

I knew a family who's boy travelled all the way from the outskirts of Tonbridge (Kent) into Purley; maybe a door to door journey of 1hr 45minutes, he was given a bursary for travel.

The John Fisher Association (JFA) continues to do lots of good work for the school.

John Fisher is not such a middle-class bastion as a lot of you seem to assume.
When Fisher was an Independent (Public School) it actually educated a number of it's boys for free!

Monty27 Wed 21-Nov-12 16:31:54

Yes Angel I think that's probably exactly what PWB means, we weren't accepted because we were considered to be 'bad apples'. sad

We fitted all other criteria.

AngelEyes46 Thu 22-Nov-12 21:32:25

I hope PWB isn't Monty. As I said before, there is a place for faith schools but they shouldn't abuse their selection process. My DH is not catholic and it is my role to ensure that they attend mass and take the sacraments. They are just as catholic as any other child that has two practicing parents. I would love to believe that you're wrong Monty about not being accepted due to you being divorced but fear not. PWB appears to be condoning the 'old' form of selection which is unfair and not at all christian.

Monty27 Fri 23-Nov-12 00:49:34

Angel, it was exactly that. Rules changed and they sent me out further forms saying they had had to changed their selection criteria (can't remember the beauractratic stuff the form said at the time, they had been pulled or something) so I filled it in, was assured we were on the waiting list... I phoned shortly after, my ds was 2nd on the waiting list as the school was full by then of course. He never got in. It was his downfall in life at the time.

He's ok ish now at a non rc 6th form, following the nightmare that was St. J's. God I was working full time and head spinning, wish I could have done more for him. But... we're just bad apples eh?

confusedperson Fri 23-Nov-12 18:05:54

Monty, I do no think you are "bad apples" but I understand where Catholics come from. Divorce is not allowed. You better be married to a cheating atheist, but married. I don't think is right.
I think that the current JF admission policy is fair on paper but it still doesn't get to me how they manage to get students mostly from affluent families, and Thomas More gets students from the same areas but not affluent - it is a mystery to me!

AngelEyes46 Sun 25-Nov-12 10:51:33

And I don't think you're a bad apple either Monty. I don't know if that's true re: JF's students Confused - they are very varied. What they do have is a very strict code of conduct and still that 'grammar' school feeling. All boys have to play rugby for example - we have to sign up for that on the onset and participate as a parent. Thomas More has done unbelievably well these last couple of years - I think it's a school to look out for. But, understandably, noone wants their dcs to be the guinea pigs in the interim. PWB's - I think your ds may have left full time education now as the school is quite different from what you are describing.

Monty27 Sun 25-Nov-12 23:22:53

Thanks Confused and Angel, it really wasn't my fault that he went off the rails. Still he did, and I divorced him.

It still stays with those schools though, and I am not envious of people who have that perfect life that I thought our family had and would always have. I still break my heart about it. But exh' ds has suffered for it... (not so much as dd for some reason, just different gender/personalities etc).

Sorry not a pity party, just pointing out how wrong it was and is. We'll get there.

Good luck and hope you all get the best for you and your dc's.

avoid St.J's like the plague though smile

penelopewellingtonbowes Tue 27-Nov-12 11:27:00

Hi AngelEyes,

Yes the school is much more inclusive now; I think something like 15% of the school's students are now black or other ethnic minorities-it accepts boys from lower income homes. It is obviously completely non-selective these days (since 1999/2000).

My boy left in the early 2000's as the first boys were coming in that were not selected.

I have lots of friends from the early-late 1990's and maintain some links with the school; I must say I am impressed that since the end of the selection policy the school seems to be doing very well indeed.

camilamoran Tue 27-Nov-12 11:31:39

You do know that 'black and ethnic minority' and 'lower income' are not the same thing.

Monty27 Tue 27-Nov-12 20:30:27


AngelEyes46 Tue 27-Nov-12 20:52:41

I thinks PWB is playing with us - she cannot believe what she is writing. I believe she is looking for a reaction!

penelopewellingtonbowes Mon 03-Dec-12 15:57:54


I am not playing with anybody! And yes of course BME & low-income are not the same thing.

I am making a number of observations; a) the school is one of the best Catholic schools in London and Surrey in spite of ending its selection policy, b) John Fisher is very elitist (still) now that it operates a selection policy and finally c) the school still seems to be an alternative to Croydon and Surrey Indies (whitgift and royal russell).

This forum has a flavour of anti-selection sentiment. That I have picked up on.

penelopewellingtonbowes Mon 03-Dec-12 15:59:29

sorry I meant to say ''now that it operates a points system''


Ladymuck Mon 03-Dec-12 19:35:35

John Fisher isn't seen as elitist in its policy, given how close it is to the Sutton grammars who do select on the basis of 11+ exams, and are in far more demand. You're either Catholic enough to get in, or you're not, but that is the criteria these days: thankfully not a points system, but simply a question of when the child is baptised, and how frequently the family attends mass. One of the local CofE comps does operate a points system including points for whether the child attends alone, or points for significant parental involvement in church etc.

Monty27 Mon 03-Dec-12 22:14:24

Yes PWB and me and my dc's were genuine catholics angry

What was I going to do with a dh who slept with someone else? Stay with him?

confusedperson Tue 04-Dec-12 16:30:57

Monty this could go on and on smile I do understand your frustration.
I need an advice. I presume I can prove to JF the reasons for late DS's baptism and get him into JF - great, as majority of his primary classmates will go there.
But DS has sort of Aspergers traits (undiagnosed), I feel he is a bit struggling with social side of things -putting aside religious aspect, perhaps Langleys for Boys with their Autistic Spectrum Unit would be better?
I need to finally decide which side of Croydon to move too. confused

penelopewellingtonbowes Wed 05-Dec-12 15:38:33


May I ask why you are so in favour of a less stringent London Oratory and John Fisher? Why you objected to these Catholic schools recruiting boys from all over the country? And finally for the selection policies and interview processes?

And presumably you were against boys who joined these schools in the 1990's/2000's based on musical or academic aptitude also?

Is it any wonder that Croydon has so much negativity surrounding it's educational insitutions, when we want to reduce outstanding schools like John Fisher and Coloma to the likes of the bog standard comps?

Ladymuck Wed 05-Dec-12 17:20:40

My children are in selective schools, and one of them commutes to a school in another county by train, so I'm hardly anti-selectionhmm or even pro-"attending the nearest school". I'm merely pointing out that the JF admission policy (which does seem to change frequently!) is not how you may remember it. It is a comprehensive Catholic single sex school, still in high demand. However it is in the same London borough as 3 very high performing boys grammar schools with entirely selective intakes (from all over the country), so there is no great surprise in that it loses some of the very brightest RC boys to those schools. John Fisher has been fully comprehensive for the last 12 or more years. Other than on the rugby field grin I'm not sure that it has been seen as an alternative to Whitgift or Trinity for some time.

Schools with a point based system generate more hoops for parents to jump through and therefore potentially are choosing those families who persist in hoop jumping. Have a look at Coloma's old policy for comparison.

confusedperson Wed 05-Dec-12 18:57:40

Does anyone knows any recent boys admitted to JF from Bromley borough or Croydon/Bromley border? I am trying to work out my chances...

AngelEyes46 Wed 05-Dec-12 21:37:30

I know there were boys who got in from Addiscombe. I also know boys who live in Dulwich and Esher who didn't get in. I don't know if you are able to work out your distance in comparison to these areas. My friend is a governor there and works on the admission panel. They follow the criteria very closely and look at valid reasons as to why baptism was late. I know I've said in other posts about late baptism and the governors are very sympathetic. I know a boy in my boys' year who was late due to waiting for family to come over from New Zealand - he was only 14 days over the year though. I also know another boy (currently in year 7) who was over the allotted time due to his mum being ill. I'm not sure what you should do re: langley boys or JF. What do you feel is best for your DS? What type of feeling did you get when visiting?

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