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Why do all the decent secondary schools in my area have to be bloody religious schools?

(153 Posts)
StaceeJaxx Sun 07-Oct-12 12:24:51


DD1 is in year 5 and we're starting to look at secondary schools. She's ASD and has an IEP and is on school action plus, so we're even more aware that the school she goes to has to be the right one.

DH and I aren't in the slightest bit religious at all. I was brought up Catholic but I'm now an atheist. We've brought the dds up to just make their own judgement on God. When dd1 started primary school I was adamant that I wasn't going to start going to church just so she could get into a decent primary. Thankfully the school she goes to doesn't require church attendance.

Now we're looking at secondary schools and all the good ones are religious schools! The rest are complete sink schools that I wouldn't send my worst enemy too. So we're going to have to start going to church every Sunday if we want her to have a decent secondary education. Goes against all my principles, and pisses me off so much, but don't know what else I can do?

Rant over. blush

aufaniae Sat 13-Oct-12 06:21:26

Is moving an option?

StaceeJaxx Sat 13-Oct-12 15:04:35

aufaniae no unfortunately it's not. sad We would love to move, but we live in a HA house atm, there's no way we could afford to rent privately.

chloe74 Tue 16-Oct-12 17:56:11

Religious schools are allowed to select by the back door, everyone needs to be more honest and admit its what we want. Until then we will be stuck with Bible bashers sad

Thankfully Gove has been brave enough to allow Free Schools so at least intelligent parents can fight back until we can have more Grammers.

prh47bridge Tue 16-Oct-12 19:03:48

Religious schools are definitely not allowed to select by the back door. They must use only their published admission criteria to determine entry.

Free schools must also obey the Admission Code so they have to publish clear admission criteria and stick to them. Again, selection by the back door is not allowed.

chloe74 Tue 16-Oct-12 23:01:25

Religious schools might not be allowed to select but they do! The Priest has the authority to pick who he wants in 'his' school and its usually parents who have 'donated' most to the church funds!

CelticPromise Tue 16-Oct-12 23:03:26

That isn't true. The priest can tick a box to say the parents meet the practising criteria or not. That's it.

AngelEyes46 Tue 16-Oct-12 23:15:32

Our church asks you to sign in so that the priest has proof of practice (some people don't like to make themselves known). Also baptism is a big factor (history can't be changed). Religious schools follow their admission criteria but many people think it's unfair as they feel it's not an even playing field. If you don't follow a faith, why would you want your dc to go to a religious school - it baffles me!

prh47bridge Tue 16-Oct-12 23:59:39

chloe74 - That is simply untrue. Any school that is behaving as you say is clearly in breach of the Admissions Code and would get into all kinds of trouble. I can't say it never happens but I have yet to come across a church school that behaves in this way.

chloe74 Wed 17-Oct-12 09:49:12

prh47bridge - obviously we have experience of different schools. In my part of the world its widely known to go on. Explain how rich parents with high achieving children from the other side of a city who only started going to church a few years ago get into a religious school. Whilst genuinely religious parents who live near the school but are less affluent with under-performing children can not get into the school. Not just one or two family's but its how whole schools are filled. Then on top of that the rich kids are given free travel whilst local kids who are barred from the school and are forced to travel further, pay for their own fare. A priest should have no say over which kids go to what school, they are not accountable and have no educational experience. Its called discrimination and selection by the backdoor.

tiggytape Wed 17-Oct-12 10:05:46

If there is no distance criteria (and there isn't always for religious schools) then it is perfectly possible for religious people from further away to get a place over and above people who live close to the school. In fact this is pretty normal for faith schools. As long as the school publish their admission criteria and stick to it religiously (pun intended!) then that's fair enough.

If as you suggest poor people who qualify more highly for a place according to the published criteria somehow get pushed out in favour of rich people that don't qualify then this is totally against the rules. But I would be very surprised if that was going on and everyone knew about it since any poor person pushed out illegally who then appealed would win. And any complaint made would be totally upheld and the schol forced to change. O.K not everyone complains or appeals but you'd think if this had been going on for years at least one person might have raised it!

If however you are saying their criteria is legal but sneaky then that's another issue. Some people believe having any faith criteria sorts the motivated and educationally aware parents from those that don't know enough or don't care enough to go to church and get a place at a 'good school'
One example might be schools that define 'faith' as going to church for 2 years as opposed to ones that define it as baptism before age 1. The first category is wide open to being exploited by motivated, organised parents whilst the second definition, it might be argued, sorts the truly faithful from those who only go to church when they find out about schooling options. Basically though, the school can choose how they define it as long as they apply that criteria equally to every person who applies.

prh47bridge Wed 17-Oct-12 11:08:05

chloe74 - In addition to the points Tiggytape makes, it is quite possible for families further away to get places based on their child's special medical or social needs (although there should only be a handful of such children in a typical year) or sibling links, and there may also be other ways in which people can get priority. I would have to know which school this is in order to give a full list but they definitely cannot give priority based on the amount donated to the church or school.

Also some church schools prioritise people living in particular parishes. They cannot choose the parishes in such a way as to exclude poorer people and they must include the school's own parish, but it is quite possible that the boundaries are drawn in such a way that some people who live a long way from the school have priority over people who live relatively close to the school, particularly if the school is located near a parish boundary. If they are blatantly ignoring their admission criteria as you suggest they should be referred to the Schools Adjudicator. As Tiggytape says, such practises would lead to large numbers of successful appeals and could ultimately lead to the school having its funding withdrawn.

On the transport issue you are mistaken. Free school transport is provided by the LA. The school has nothing to do with it. There is no way they can get the LA to provide free school transport just because they want the child to attend their school. The LA will only provide free travel to these "rich kids" if the church school concerned is the nearest school with places available and is over 3 miles from home by the shortest walking route. Some LAs used to provide free transport for children to go to the nearest faith school even if it was not their nearest school if the parents had a religious preference but that has now been withdrawn pretty much everywhere due to costs. Note that I am assuming you are correct about these children coming from well off families. Children eligible for free school meals have additional entitlements to free transport.

Similarly the local kids are entitled to free transport if they are going to the nearest school with places available and it is over 3 miles away by the shortest walking route. If they are eligible free school meals they may be entitled to free transport to the nearest faith school even if it is not their nearest school.

prh47bridge Wed 17-Oct-12 11:19:48

Final thought for the moment.

If this school was blatantly breaking the rules as you suggest I would expect your LA to take action. Applications go to the LA who then send a list of applicants to the school for them to sort into priority order based on their admission criteria. The sorted list then goes back to the LA who decide what offers are actually made. Whilst the LA will not check the order given by the school fully, I would expect them to notice and start asking questions if the school was blatantly ignoring its admission criteria in the way you suggest.

chloe74 Wed 17-Oct-12 14:22:45

I agree and accept your points.

Perhaps I can best sum it up like this. In the same way as millionaires can legally pay less tax than their cleaners, rich parents can legally manipulate the system to gain entrance to exclusive religious (state funded) schools. And every time they do that a less well off child is denied a place.

Its immoral and wrong.

The sooner we get back to honest selection by children's abilities the better this country will be. Most of us are faced with the choice of pretending to be religious, relocating or remortgaging to get a decent education for our children. I would even give up my job and home school before I would condemn my child to a 'sink' school.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 17-Oct-12 14:30:51

please let go of your wish for ANY form of selection - as THAT is what creates sink schools.
sending ALL of the children from an area to the same school and allowing the school to educate each to the best of their ability regardless of creed or colour or ability is the best way.

crazymum53 Wed 17-Oct-12 15:02:21

chloe74 Rich parents do also take advantage of the grammar schools system too (in grammar areas houses are often more expensive and they can afford 11+ tutoring) so there is no evidence that this would be any fairer.
For the benefit of the admissions experts, look at this other thread and at the Bristol LEA website for details of the admissions criteria for local faith schools.
This is my LEA and I can confirm that free transport to faith schools is no longer provided (this could apply to some existing pupils as it was only stopped recently).
Yes using church attendance could be open to abuse, but these schools have had to stop using criteria such as baptism as this discriminates against denominations that do not practice infant baptism.

radicalsubstitution Wed 17-Oct-12 16:53:18

The only 'fair' way of allocating school places is by lottery.

Selecting by religious affiliation favours intelligent, middle class parents who have the foresight to start looking at admissions criteria when their children are in the womb and make damn sure they tick every box.

Selecting by ability/11+ favours intellignet, middle class parents who have the financial means to either pay for private tutors, pay for private primary education where common entrance preparation is taught as standard or spend weekends/evenings tutoring their children themselves.

Selecting by radial distance from a school favours intelligent, well-off parents with the foresight to research league tables and the financial means to pay the inflated value of homes in the cathment areas for the best schools.

In our borough:

3 bed semi in catchment for worst performing secondary school - 220K
3 bed semi in catchment for best performing secondary school - 370k

Allocation by lottery is the fairest system, but is totally impractical in all but the tiniest of LEAs.

There is no great solution, other than by providing a massive over-supply of school places and allowing parents to 'shop around' thus causing 'failing' schools to sink into the mire entirely (like supermarkets). I can't see this working either.

At the end of the day we have to do what is best for our children, and let other families worry about theirs. Sad but true.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 17-Oct-12 17:12:29

Lottery systems result in kids being bussed all over
and a LOT of the variation between schools is due to the vicious spirals of "parental choice" as brought in by Bliar - certainly my sink local school would not be a sink school if its 'missing' 500 kids reappeared.

The 'superzip' problem in the US is less likely to happen here because UK society is less unequal than the US.

Sorry but radial distance all the way IMHO.

If nothing else because "catchments" would flex each year with cohort size
so buying a house would not necessarily get you in as it would depend on the ages of every child in your street.

No need for a huge oversupply of places. Just enough places for every child in an area and then the schools divvy them up.
The ban on LEAs increasing the number of schools HAS to be overturned as well.

heronsfly Wed 17-Oct-12 17:17:05

Donating to the collection each sunday definitely dosent give your children priority when applying to schools.
My children are at a highly over subscribed Catholic secondary school and we can only afford to put a few pennies in the plate each week.
But, we are at mass each sunday and on days of Holy obligation, I teach Holy communion classes, and my children have all been baptised, taken first communion and been confirmed.Also,we are all actively involved with the parish community. Thats why my priest signed our application forms, not because of how much I have donated.

chloe74 Wed 17-Oct-12 18:56:42

Nobody is talking about the fact that all children are different. The only way to ensure clever kids have a good education is to have academically selective schools. The only way to ensure children who are more vocationally talented is to have less academic schools but of an equally good standard. Simple.

The idea that one size fits all is ludicrous. Shoving all kids into the same school makes everyone equal, at the bottom. The government should stop forcing education ideology onto kids and let the parents decide whats best.

Choice, choice, choice, is the only way to go.

radicalsubstitution Wed 17-Oct-12 19:11:55

The major flaw to your theory is that how do you differentiate between the academically gifted, average and 'not academic' children at age 11? These systems become very much biased in favour of the children of parents with the means to push their children through the 11+ examination.

I am dead against giving children labels such as 'vocationally talented' in year 6. What you are basically saying is 'you're thick, and so we're going to teach you how to pluck a chicken'.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 17-Oct-12 19:29:16

I think you will find that the kids in top sets at comps do rather well thank you.

I personally object to you implying that my children will end up at the bottom.

Choice means EVERY child gets every opportunity - ONLY comps can provide that.

chloe74 Wed 17-Oct-12 21:01:39

radicalsubstitution - its you that denigrates vocationally talented children, myself and other countries like Germany give equal merit to those skills. Also it doesnt have to be at 11, the age of 14 seems to be becoming adopted by many countries for this selection.

TalkinPeace2 - kids in top sets can do well at comps but its usually in spite of the school not because of it. They do ten times better when at selective schools. Telling kids they are A* material does not make them well educated, and that's whats been happening in schools for the past generation, grade inflation. And it means kids come out of school unable to read and write.

Comps mean every kids gets the same choice, ie must do better wrapped in the lie of wow you got an A. We need to get rid of comps, give parents real choice and watch our kids soar.

Farewelltoarms Wed 17-Oct-12 21:12:27

They really don't do 'ten times better' in a grammar than a comp. Research suggests that which school a child goes to only accounts at most for a ten per cent variation in education outcome - the rest is all pretty predetermined by gender, parental education/affluence etc. The child that can get into a grammar will likely do just as well in the top set at a comprehensive. Don't confuse the overall results of a grammar school with the overall results at a comprehensive. Compare those of the high achievers. I'd guess that the difference between the outcome of high achieving child at a good grammar and a good comp is negligible.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 17-Oct-12 21:26:04

STOP insulting my children and their friends.
You are talking UTTER bollocks about what goes on in good comp schools.
If they really were as dire as you say, how come a bus load from the sixth form college went to Oxbridge last year.

And Grammars are narrow
they exclude sports stars
they exclude artists
they exclude musicians
they exclude children who mature a day too late for the test

No, comps do NOT give every child the same chance.
In DCs school, only the top 30 academically do Latin GCSE as its not appropriate for the others
only the top 60 automatically do triple science
only the top 90 automatically do double English

I'd rather the sports and art and music that my DCs can do in their spare time than any selective school populated by children whose parents only expect them to "soar"

radicalsubstitution Wed 17-Oct-12 22:15:35

kids in top sets can do well at comps but its usually in spite of the school not because of it

As a (highly rated) teacher in a (highly rated) comprehensive school I find that comment insulting.

TalkinPeace2, I am ashamed (as a Christian who obviously believes in fairy stories) to say that I agree with you on this one - Chloe74 you are indeed talking bollocks.

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