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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

TalkinPeace2 Sat 20-Oct-12 21:50:37

I am utterly in favour of comprehensive education
and would gladly see grammars and religious schools abolished in the same instant because neither of them are in any way comprehensive, and by their very presence, stop the schools around them being comprehensive

JustGettingByMum Sat 20-Oct-12 21:22:26

Talkinpeace, I understand and respect that you do not approve of faith schools. However, I hope you will agree that we both support the principle of comprehensive education.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 20-Oct-12 19:12:11

justgettingby I have to side with chloe here - what church you go to on a Sunday should have NO impact on what school your children go to Monday to Friday.
As an atheist I'd LOVE to be able to send my kids to a school where all religions were taught about as fairy stories.
Why does being a Catholic impact on how Maths is taught?
Your kids will still do "Mice and Men" in year 10 if taught by Nuns or other people

I'm a product of private school so understand the mindset. In the UK its a teeny percentage. Around 6% nationally but as low as 1% in some counties (we have lots of private school places here in Hampshire, but most are taken by outsiders)
AND - if the daft selection guff was removed from a lot of state schools : allowing true comps no stress with top sets in every area - then that percentage would drop to probably 1% or 2% (allowing for forces families and stuff it will never go lower)

Enjoy your wine
Pretty please with flowers round - if you are a UK citizen (I'm not so can't) keep an eye out for LEA posts, academy trust posts etc - and use your energy to give the WHOLE of Bristol education the kick up the arse it deserves.
Then not only will you get a better education for your DCs
but as the Uber "pushy Mum" you'll help the whole area.

chloe74 Sat 20-Oct-12 19:01:51

JustGettingByMum - apologies it was a new paragraph and I forgot to add a different name at the start.

When it comes to schools in an LEA, the disclosing of a city location can lead to a people and teachers who live there working out which schools are being referred to and then which child. I do not think it unreasonable to ask to NOT have your location revealed.

If comps are every really truly comps then I am sure it would work well but then you would have to ban private schools, cap house prices so rich parents couldn't move in and dominate an area, ban religious selection, and find some way to suppress human nature to want something better for their children than everyone else's. Which is never going to happen as evidenced by JustGettingByMum who moved house to get into a selective school to further her beliefs.

The only solution is equality by letting everyone have access to selection.

I wont be posting in this thread again, I am off for a glass of wine.

JustGettingByMum Sat 20-Oct-12 18:34:02

Well if she does live near Kilve then lucky her, it's a beautiful part of the world.

Anyway Sat night, and definitely wine o'clock wine cheers grin

TalkinPeace2 Sat 20-Oct-12 18:29:55

maybe its because your random guess at Kilve is very near her!

Chloe - chillax a bit. Bristol covers quite a big area - we're not looking you up on Google street view :-)

JustGettingByMum Sat 20-Oct-12 18:27:20

You have no right to research and disclose my geographical location on a public forum when I had specifically stated I did not want that. Can you please redact that sentence in your last post or I will report it.

TalkinPeace Sat 20-Oct-12 16:46:47
As has been ascertained, you live in Bristol

errmmm, it's the post after your rant at me, perhaps you meant to address your anger to talkinpeace? Or have you just decided to have a persoanl pop at me even when I try and offer a helpful suggestion?

TalkinPeace2 Sat 20-Oct-12 18:25:15

When comps are good they work well but when they are bad they are a disaster

But when they are TRULY comps, there are rarely a disaster.

chloe74 Sat 20-Oct-12 18:16:32

ps Indeed there are few Olympic athletes at age 11 however there are a lot of kids different levels of ability, which is my point. And every level of ability would benefit from working with peers of a similar level. Of course in all other areas of life they would still mix, hang out and play.

chloe74 Sat 20-Oct-12 18:12:59

JustGettingByMum - You never answered the point that don't agree with selection for academic ethos, yet its ok for you to use selection to further your religious ethos?

You have no right to research and disclose my geographical location on a public forum when I had specifically stated I did not want that. Can you please redact that sentence in your last post or I will report it.

Yes my child is very academic and most of their progress has been achieved outside of school, because he enjoys learning. Yet I am labeled a 'pushy' parent. I have done everything I can to get them into an academic secondary school yet am denigrated and told to send him to the local 'comp' where his talents will be wasted. The only answer I can see is selection, private school (which I don't think I could fund for 5 years), or moving house to a different city. When comps are good they work well but when they are bad they are a disaster. Allowing selection would be part of the solution when the comp is bad.

JustGettingByMum Sat 20-Oct-12 17:35:36

Chloe, the point of comprehensive education is that you don't need selection.

Olympic athletes don't train with beginners
Indeed they don't, but there are very few (I think none) at age 11. Those that are Olympic hopefuls, train with the relevant GB squad at weekends, evenings and during school holidays. But they still go to an ordinary school. And they do still play sport with their classmates and in school teams.
From your post it sounds as though your DS is very academic. In the same way, you could look at academic enrichment activities such as those offered by Kilve Court which is fairly local to you

In my LEA there are 21 secondary schools, of these 3 are catholic and none were within a sensible travelling distance of where we lived previously. Hence we moved, to a cheaper area, with a catholic school.

Finally, why on earth have you posted my name as an internet link?

TalkinPeace2 Sat 20-Oct-12 16:46:47

As has been ascertained, you live in Bristol.
DO NOT judge the rest of the UK system by the shambles that is still to be sorted out round your way.

OECD rankings are a waste of time space and paper.
They reflect approaches to learning that do not reward lateral thinking

South Korea - classes of 90 rote learning
Finland - everybody brought up to a standard but no effort to stretch the bright above it

And actually for Science, the most recent data set shows the UK at 11th.

chloe74 Sat 20-Oct-12 16:26:24

JustGettingByMum - I accept your apology.

There are lies, damned lies and statistics. My evidence of how well a school is doing is based mainly on speaking to the teachers, other parents, reputations, and the children at the school. Yes I look at the figures but they are used by schools to manipulate the facts in their favor and its really hard to get at the truth. I have spent six years explaining that my child is bored at school because they are not being stretched, and every time I have got the same answers. Differentiated material is provided (just not up to a level that stretches him), he still has to show that he can do the simple tasks (every though they proved that two years before), there isn't enough hours in the day to provide for every level of ability (but they have an inordinate amount of time for them to write prayers), we have several disruptive kids in the class there's nothing we can do, we have to focus on the low performers....

On paper its a good school but they don't push any children into level six sats exams as they say its a better use of resources to spend on the level threes. I am not going to sit by and let the same happen at secondary school but the problem is that once you are in a LEA school the parents have no power to change things. I tried joining the primary school board of governors, there was a space free that they had been unable to fill for the past year, but as soon as everyone found out I was an atheist several parents from the church stepped forward and organized a campaign to get one of there own elected instead of me. I was on the waiting list for a, further away but secular primary, for six years but because we already had a school place we were always at the bottom of that list and never got in.

When I said kids at selective schools could do ten times better, it was an expression. I didn't realise parents here took everything so literally. It is my educated opinion that if you put a group of people of a similar level of ability together they are more likely to reach a higher level than a group if filled with a multitude of different abilities and disruptive elements etc. Olympic athletes don't train with beginners, they need competitors to push them harder. The England football team doesn't train with the local pub team. Orchestras don't play with just anyone who can hold a violin. NASA doesn't work alongside high school kids. I don't get the reason why anyone would advocate otherwise unless its social engineering.

How can it be good for a low performing child to know he will never be the one to work out the answer first in a class. Wont that demoralize them so much they would give up trying? How can it be good for a high achiever to know he is always the one to get the answer first, so he gets labeled a nerd or teachers pet.

Are all comprehensives really comprehensive?. One nearish me is very exclusive and its impossible to get in unless you own a very expensive house very close to the school. In effect its a grammar school. The school itself even pays for outside tuition for the children. If academic selection was allowed then children who don't have rich parents could access it. In my opinion that would be progress. Selection by wealth is as bad as selection by religion. Give everyone a fair chance and allow more selection by ability.

JustGettingByMum - Your attempts to justify your hyprocrasy don't wash. You advocate that everyone should go to a comprehensive state school and selection shouldn't be allowed. However you moved house to circumvent the comprehensive idea and used selection by wealth (moving house) and selection by faith. The excuse you use to justify this is that your selected school follows your beliefs (I never said you moved to a better academic school). So its ok for you to use selection for your children but you think everyone else should be barred from using selection to follow their beliefs of an academic upbringing? Exactly like all those hypocritical Labour MP's who forced millions to go to 'bog standard' comprehensives while sending their kids to elite private schools. Their words not mine.

hy·poc·ri·sy (h-pkr-s)
n. pl. hy·poc·ri·sies
1. The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.

Plummeting or gently sliding?

In 2000 OECD ranked England 8th for maths, 7th for literacy and 4th for science.

In 2009 England was ranked 28th for maths, 25th for reading and 16th for science.

I was told by a teacher that streaming is not allowed anymore. I admit I was misinformed probably because no state schools in my area do this. Setting is used but mostly in English and Maths. I also accept that a child being bright in Maths and English does not necessarily indicate a talent in foreign languages but I would imagine it makes it a lot more likely.

tiggytape Sat 20-Oct-12 10:53:55

Streaming is allowed in schools but setting is the norm
Streaming is placing children into one ability group for all subjects
Setting is placing children into appropriate ability groups for each individual subject.

Setting is considered better than streaming since being good at maths is no predictor of being equally good at French, Geography and P.E
It is much better to be assessed on a subject by subject basis and this is what most schools do even at primary levela and almost certainly at secondary level.

CecilyP Sat 20-Oct-12 10:46:41

The facts about England's education system are simple, grades keep increasing whilst we plummet down the international league tables.

I don't think you could call it plummeting - although the newspaper headlines imply that - the UK is one of many countries which rank around the average, where the scores of the countries ranked from 10th to 30th are much of a muchness.

We could go further and allow streaming in schools it might go some way to helping academic children.

Who told you that streaming is not allowed?

JustGettingByMum Sat 20-Oct-12 08:25:09

Dear Chloe, I apologise for calling you ignorant. To be fair, I was basing this on a number of your posts in this secondary education thread, a subject on which you seem to have a scanty knowledge, but are happy to assert that those in comprehensives do well in spite of the system, and those in the top stream at a comprehensive would do 10x better at a Grammar school (I'd love you to post a link to the Grammar school that gives students 30 Grade A A2 levels at the end of year 13).
My ideology makes me sound like a dictator? Just to clarify, that's the ideology of supporting comprehensive schools, a system introduced by the labour government, so I guess you could call its supporters socialists. But I'm sure you know that hmm
Finally you say I'm a hypocrite for moving to an area with a better school.
Perhaps if you had paid attention during your English comprehension lessons in school, you might have noticed that actually I did the exact opposite. I moved away from an area with a better performing school to one with a lower performing (catholic) school. So I guess that makes me the opposite of a hypocrite, a quick search on google suggests the following definition as being the opposite of a hypocrite - honest, sincere and true.

chloe74 Fri 19-Oct-12 22:40:50

JustGettingByMum - If you don't like what other people are saying you just insult them. I think you need to go back to a proper school and learn some manners. Yes my child is still in Primary. The facts about England's education system are simple, grades keep increasing whilst we plummet down the international league tables. Dumbing down/grade inflation call it what you will it needs fixing. I am not saying the teachers or the pupils are not trying hard just that they are being let down by the system. Not quite sure that your comment about how to judge children's success if they go a specialist school, ummm... the way they always have ? Why are you so desperate to force all children to go to the same type of school. Give parents choice and the best school will flourish be it Comprehensive, Academy, Free or Grammar. Your ideology to force everyone to be like you sounds like a dictatorship. And for the record your a hypocrite saying send all children to the local comp when you moved house to get close to a good school.

I think the idea of the new Free schools is great and I am supporting them. We could go further and allow streaming in schools it might go some way to helping academic children.

muminlondon Fri 19-Oct-12 16:18:37

But ex-voluntary aided faith schools which convert to academies don't have to change their admission policies whereas new academies must have a more open admissions policy. It would be good to have more open places in all faith schools / on the other hand some people may not choose them at all and shouldn't be forced to if that's the only provider. So it's probably going to remain a muddle.

radicalsubstitution Fri 19-Oct-12 15:20:05

Just to muddy the waters even further, church (or any faith) based schools that convert to Academy status no longer have to fund 10% of the cost of capital projets themselves. As tiggytape rightly says, many of the older church schools already own their own lands (or it belongs to some form of trust), so the legal complications of converting to academy status are significantly fewer than for a LEA maintained school.

OneMoreMum Fri 19-Oct-12 13:22:21

Re the 0% Ebacc situation, our local school (thankfully not the one my DSs go to) got 0% because they did not offer Geography or History at GCSE, only Combined Humanities (which doesn't count for EBacc). Don't get me wrong it's not a brilliant school but not as bad as the 0% might infer at first glance.

I believe they are now bringing in seperate humanities, and triple science for the first time so I think they have got the message.

muminlondon Fri 19-Oct-12 13:20:46

We have a complete mess now and it's getting ever more complicated. We have the established VA schools, many with exclusive admissions, new free schools - - many of which are also faith schools - although a quarter of them are undersubscribed. Meanwhile councils aren't allowed to set up their own school unless it's a free school or academy, even if there is a dire place shortage, as Coventry council has found recently. But most academies, if they don't have a link with a religious organisation, are part of a chain. Chloe74 is right that their results are showing few improvements once you strip out 'equivalents' - similar results to secondary moderns on Ebacc too, about 8% for those open 5 years. LA comprehensives have much better results than these. Where they don't, it is probably because they are close to grammar schools so they are also like secondary moderns with a small top set, or in an area with lots of private schools and faith schools, and don't stand much of a chance on intake.

There's never been a level playing field but that would not be solved by more grammars or more faith schools. Or privatisation of academy chains, which a right wing think tank has just proposed. They've had that for 15 years in Sweden where there were no private schools, faith schools or selective schools (the new free schools still can't select in ability) and it has resulted in empty places, more cost to the government and no noticeable improvement on standards.

JustGettingByMum Fri 19-Oct-12 12:55:37

Re the debate on funding faith schools, the government would have to meet the cost of educating these children wherever they are in school, so a thousand atheists sitting in a catholic school will still cost the same to educate as a thousand catholics sitting in the school.
In the same way as a thousand girls sitting in an all boys state school, will cost the same as a thousand boys sitting in an all girls state school.
Or, perish the thought, a thousand untutored 11-16 year olds sitting in a grammar school.

JustGettingByMum Fri 19-Oct-12 12:51:48

chloe74 In response to your reply to me:

"You can always pick individual children out to prove a point."
Indeed, but given your astounding ignorance, I was attempting an illustration to demonstrate the point that a comprehensive school education is not second rate.

"So many kids now get A’s at GCSE because the exams have been so dumbed down its impossible to tell who the clever ones are, lets get academically rigorous tests."
Perhaps you have direct experience of teaching at GCSE or A level ? Or perhaps you have a child who has sailed through his GCSEs, AS exams and A2 levels? Then you are qualified to say that in your opinion your child found the exams easy. But it appears your child is still in primary school, and I am guessing has never sat any external academic exams, so your rant is based on what you read and hear from politicians like Michael Gove hmm

"Its only people like you who are fixated on measuring a child's worth by their academic ability. Every child has talent and should be allowed to develop them at the school best suited to it."
So are you proposing for example, sporty kids should go to sporty schools? Those with a flair for music or drama should go to performing arts schools? And those who are academic should go to academic schools?
How will you judge their success?
Sporty = former pupils taking part in the Olympics? Current pupils in GB squad and looking at taking part in the 2016 Olympics?
Musical/dramatic = acceptance at music conservatoire? Or at performing arts colleges at 18? Perhaps having former pupils as recognised actors on TV?
Academic = acceptance at top rated Unis?

Those pesky comprehensives are doing it again - I can tick all the above boxes at DS school. As I am sure can many other people. Although I'm not sure what you would do with the multi-talented people with both fantastic academic grades, and also a wonderful talent in sport or music!
Oh I know, you could send them to a school that nourishes all their talents - like a comprehensive perhaps.

"One size does not fit all, choice, choice, choice."
Indeed, and that's why I chose to send my children to a catholic comprehensive school. We moved 20 odd miles from an area with a stronger academic local school to the area we live in now because that continuation of the catholic faith is important to me.

tiggytape Fri 19-Oct-12 12:01:59

A lot of faith (most) schools are pretty old though and so own their assets.
I appreciate new schools being set up have different structures, funding and admissions and that's probably as it should be given the changes to the world now and how it was decades or centuries ago when the church took it upon itself to educate children when the state did not.

muminlondon Fri 19-Oct-12 11:39:30

Sorry, I mean free schools can lease buildings from the council but funding comes from central government so a church setting up or sponsoring a free school in the form of an academy doesn't need to pay anything. But admission policies have to have 50% open places.

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