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Vital mistake of baptism date in baptism certificate made by church - how it will affect our chances

(23 Posts)
confusedperson Fri 02-Nov-12 14:06:10

My DS was baptized when he was 1 year 3 months, but when we collected the baptism certificate, the year is mistaken and it looks as he was baptized when he was 3 months old. The entry date is correct (one year later), but it is in small letters and in the very corner, so I am not sure if anyone will notice at all.

This mistake gives me an unexpected chance to get into a RC secondary where age of baptism is an important criteria (I still have to prove 3 years of weekly mass attendance, but this is not a problem).

I am not sure how admissions are done, but can I hope that this mistake will help us to get in where I thought we had no chance in getting in? Are they checking baptism dates thoroughly (through church?) or they just look at baptism date and that’s all?

UltraBOF Fri 02-Nov-12 14:09:49

You can give it a go, and say you misremembered if pulled up on it. I imagine you'll need to say a few Hail Marys though grin

confusedperson Fri 02-Nov-12 14:12:47

Well obviously is not my fault so I did not do anything wrong.
I didn't mention the main point though - if I want to get in into one particular secondary, I would have to move closer it - then with <1year baptism date I would be almost guaranteed a place, but with >1year, I am not so sure...

UltraBOF Fri 02-Nov-12 14:15:14

Morally, it would still be wrong to be complicit in deceiving the school though. If you have to move house (do you rent? How easy is a move?) and risk being found out, it seems a big palaver, don't you think?

tiggytape Fri 02-Nov-12 14:40:26

It would be hugely risky but only you can decide if your other options are so awful that you'd risk doing it.

If you are asked on the school's form which category you are applying under and you say 'the baptised before one year' category (or whatever it is that gets you priority) knowing it is not true, this is a fraudulent application. It isn't a genuine error - you know perfectly well that you don't come under that category.

In terms of what will happen to you - there are 3 possibilities and they depend to some extent on the popularity of the school (more popular normally means more checks) and how on the ball other parents (potential informants) are. The three possible outcomes:

1. The dating error goes unnoticed and you get offered a place. You get priority for the school and get an offer where normally you wouldn't have got in.

2. i)The dates all get checked against parish records and your entire application is thrown out for being false. If you sign a form saying categorically that he was baptised early it would be fraud and your application totally invalid.
ii) If you'd said nothing specific anywhere and just let them assume the false date was correct, you may get the benefit of the doubt and they'd correct the error so although you wouldn't get that RC school, they'd let you have another one off your list and not throw out your entire application.

3. You may get away with it initially until allocations day when another parent wonders how come your DS got a place and theirs didn't and decides to appeal / complain that the aplications weren't fair. At which point the school will find out it was a false application and they can withdraw your place even if you have the offer in writing leaving you to find a school place from whatever schools still have a space. They can withdraw your offer and force your son to leave the school even if he has already started and settled in if they ever find out you lied to get a place (the longer he's there the less likely they'd actually throw him out but you wouldn't be 'safe' for the first term at least)

Personally, it wouldn't be worth the risk and the stress. If you have just one other decent option, it definitely isn't worth the risk of losing that as well because you need to rely on not getting found out between the date you apply in October and 14 months later at the end of his first term there.

confusedperson Fri 02-Nov-12 14:57:58

Thank you tiggytape I just checked the school’s supplementary form and they do ask to write down the date of baptism. I am not sure if I dare to lie on the form, I’d rather just right the correct date and hope for the best. I have heard rumours that nevertheless the strict religious criteria, this school was accused selecting by more affluent postcode or refusing single parents, no wonder they are doing so well. We do have another half-decent option, but I wanted to move from my area anyway to a better area, so thought perhaps that super-well-doing school would be our best bet. Need to rethink my options now smile

confusedperson Fri 02-Nov-12 14:58:25

*right = write

tiggytape Fri 02-Nov-12 15:20:30

confused - if you are asked to personally write the date on the form then sign the form and you lie - then that is really serious.

It isn't the same at all as hoping nobody notices the error on the church form that wasn't your mistake anyway - it would be deliberately lying when asked a direct question to gain an advantage i.e fraud and you stand a real risk of ending up with no school place at all let alone a good one.

What would happen if you got found out is that it would invalidate your entire application to all schools and come March next year, the council would allocate you a school that still had a space left after everyone else had got theirs (i.e. a poor, unpopular school miles away!).
You are much better off exploring schools that you can get into legitimately without spending 14 months worried sick that you are going to get caught.

There are always rumours that schools cheat in some way. People get very upset about school applications and disappointment / suspicion is rife.
In reality, it is highly unlikely to happen especially at popular schools for two reasons: i) popular schools get more applications and are subject to more parental scrutiny - if someone baptised late got a place everyone would soon know about it and the school would be in huge amounts of trouble and ii) although this school do their own admissions, they have to go via the council with the list of applicants and with the list of successful candidates. The council would soon spot if nobody from poorer postcodes ever got in or if people who qualified were being rejected in favour of those who didn't.

If the form asks anything about parental marital status this is illegal and should be reported to the schools adjudicator and the local council. The supplementary form should only ask for information that directly relates to admission criteria i.e. date of baptism and attendance at mass.

peteneras Fri 02-Nov-12 21:08:29

Is it very difficult to go back to the church and ask them to correct the error and perhaps issue you with a new certificate to put everything above board? I would prefer to do it this way.

sashh Sat 03-Nov-12 04:33:46

Are they checking baptism dates thoroughly (through church?) or they just look at baptism date and that’s all?

They are weeding out eastern European pupils. In the UK it is common to baptise babies, in eastern Europe it is not common before the child is at least 1.

So assuming you are not Polish you will be fine.

NewFerry Sat 03-Nov-12 09:33:10

That's a very interesting, and controversial, point re the eastern Europeans. If true, then would these parents have grounds to appeal if they didn't get a place as the custom in their home country is different?
Seems very harsh if not.

tiggytape Sat 03-Nov-12 11:06:49

Infant baptism forms part of the admission criteria for a lot of very popular Catholic schools.
It is to weed out those who have followed the faith all their lives from those that got their children baptised at the age of 3 to get into a Catholic primary school or at the age of 10 to get into a Catholic secondary school. It does mean that the national churches of some other countries take less priority (but then CofE is both English and Christian - as Catholicism is Christian - and CofE takes less priority too so it is not a nationality / racism thing).

There is always a clause that allows explanation for parents who are Catholic and support Infant Baptism but who couldn't manage it eg in Poland Infant Baptism is practiced but isn't always possible to arrange in some areas so the parents could apply under the early baptism category with a letter of explanation from their priest. Ditto for children born here and who were in the midst of a family upset / disaster that prevented early baptism. Again a letter from a priest to explain it will be allowed.

By nature though all religious criteria is discriminatory. If you aren't of a certain faith (and faithful enough by the standards set), you won't get a place at a school you might like. But that's a whole other debate. As long as a faith school sets religious criteria and applies that criteria to everyone equally, they are allowed to select children that way.

What you cannot do though, at faith schools or normal schools, is tell an out and out lie on the application form to boost your child from a lower admission category to a higher one. It is wrong morally but also from a practical point of view is likely to cause you a lot of trouble.
Doing so is risky (the more popular the school, the more likely you'll be found out) because, if caught at any point over the next year, your whole application gets cancelled and you end up with no school place.

Every year people have their school applications cancelled. Some are quietly asked to resubmit the correct details. Some (if discovered late) just get given a school they haven't asked for because that's all that's left over. They don’t bother prosecuting over it anymore although it is fraud because to be honest, the punishment of getting a truly awful school 5 miles away from home or getting your child dragged out of a school they love in the first term is usually punishment and deterrent enough.

AngelEyes46 Sat 03-Nov-12 19:35:33

Confused - my dd was baptised at 14 months and one of the schools that we put was under 6 months baptism, the other under 1 year. I went through so many thoughts - should I 'amend' her baptism certificate to a year earlier as only a copy is needed. But, parish records would have shown differently and the priest does have to send a form in stating date of baptism and attendance of mass. You could phone your parish and ask what date they have for your ds! However, as others have said the stress and worry and the embarrassment to my dd if found out (and of course the immorality). In the end, I applied with the reasons as to why my dd was not baptised within 6 months/1 year and she was accepted for both. You will (I am sure) have very valid reasons as to why your ds was not baptised within the timeline and the governors are very reasonable in taking everything into account. Remember though, they cannot guess - put everything down (my 'reasonings' came to 6 pages). You also have the added worry as to whether to move which is unusual as RC schools don't normally take distance into account (CE may moreso). Good luck with whatever you do-it's such a worrying time - my sil is going through it this year.

admission Sat 03-Nov-12 21:37:45

The bottom line here is that if you get a place at the school and the school accepted the incorrect date because you put it down or because of the inaccurate certificate and the school then find out they will almost for certainty remove the place that has been offered. You will then be left trying to get a place in a school that has places available, in other words the kind of school you do not want!
I would fully agree with this decision because you have got a place under false or at the very least very dubious circumstances. The school has the right to do this according to the admission regulations and if it is a vastly over subscribed school they will not hesitate to take such action. Apart from the need to be seen to follow the rules it will act as a deterrent to other parents who might be tempted to try to bend the rules.
The bottom line is you will almost for sure get caught out in this and it is simply not worth the hassle it will cause. It is far preferable to try and get a suitable letter from the priest confirming that the child be considered a baptised catholic, meeting the requirments. One such letter is called the certificate of reception into the catholic church, which the school is supposed to accept as the equivalent of being baptised. The key is to get it done now and accepted rather than wait till after the cut off date for applications, when it will get far messier to sort out.
The other side of the coin here is whether this is a school that has an admission criteria which is unfair. Whilst I understand the wish for catholic children to be baptised shortly after birth, the reality is that this is now not always the case and as others have said it is uncommon in eastern european catholics, who are every bit as much catholic as their british couterparts. I therefore personally feel that the admission criteria is flawed and illegal as it is not treating all equal. However to get this sorted means that you need to complain to the schools adjudicator about the admission criteria and get them to agree, who can then order the school to follow another admission criteria.

sicutlilium Sat 03-Nov-12 22:30:01

How would this play in the confessional, I wonder?

confusedperson Sun 04-Nov-12 09:32:03

Thank you for responses. Well, for some reason the morality does not bother me in this case - so many parents in DS's RC primary are so obviously religious only for school purpose that morality is the last thing on their minds.

But I would not want to lie in the application either. The only thing I can do is to write the year date in unclear manner so the admission team has to pick up the baptism certificate to double check and then they think what they want to think. So there is no actual lie in it.

As to why we didn't baptize DS before 1 year old, it is so trivial now, but in the beginning he was so small, then we were waiting for warm period, then our god parents (my best friend) became unavailable.. and our church does baptism only 4 times in a year.. I guess I was just disorganized and I did not know secondary rules at the time.. neither I cared, to be honest.. I thought that attending the church was the main requirement, but appears it is not. So here I am.

AngelEyes46 I am about 4.5 miles from the said school and the parents of the primary already talk that they don't seem to accept from my postcode, while the nearby postcode (much more affluent area and about 4.3 miles) always gets places...

tiggytape Sun 04-Nov-12 16:48:10

It is quite possible that 4.3 miles gets a place and 4.5 miles doesn't if they use distance as a tie breaker. It depends what the rules are for that school but unless people from 4.8 miles away are getting places, it doesn't point ot anything obviously suspicious.

You can certainly write unclearly if you wish to but this will almost certainly prompt a phone call or a letter from the admissions team to ask you outright what the correct date is. It will probably also prompt them to check and double check everyone's parish records once they realise what has happened.

They won't just take a guess at what might be the correct date - admissions are taken very seriously. They are governed by law so if there is any doubt they will ask you outright to say which is the correct date and if you tell a deliberate lie you lay yourself open to having your whole application rejected.

You would be much better off getting a letter from your priest explaining that your DS was baptised at 1 year and 3 months, despite wanting a much earlier date, because of your church's policy on baptism dates and because your Godparents (who are very important part of your child's spiritual life and could not be substituted) were only available at a certain time for a very important reason (which you'd then need to give)..... Then you could apply under the 6 month category with this letter of explanation and without worryong about a phonecall or being grassed up by another parent at some point over the next year or so.

AngelEyes46 Sun 04-Nov-12 19:33:10

I agree with Tiggy - Confused - as I said before your reasons are valid! I submitted a letter from my priest stating that mine (and my family's faith) was sound and that the date of baptism for my dd was through circumstances rather than beliefs. I do feel for you though Confused as your mind is all over the place in getting what you feel is the best secondary school for your DS.

confusedperson Mon 05-Nov-12 15:37:55

AngelEyes46 can I ask how do you get your priest to sign such letter? Especially if I am planning to move away from the parish if I want to be in a nearer catchment.

[The school I am talking about has just been brought up in MN by other mumsnetters...]

confusedperson Mon 05-Nov-12 15:52:02

AngelEyes46 I found on another thread that we are talking about the same school (JF) - is that right? And you said you know more children who got in with delayed baptism.... can I know more details, please?

MordionAgenos Mon 05-Nov-12 16:57:40

sashh IME they are not weeding out Eastern Europeans at all, they make allowance for them, also for genuine converts, what they are trying to do is weed out the families where the parents are lapsed catholics and never bothered to get their children baptised till they realised they would need to if they wanted to go to the catholic school.

AngelEyes46 Mon 05-Nov-12 21:28:39

Confused - it was my dd that was 14 months - and the schools were Coloma and St Phils. I have twin ds's and they are at JF (currently year 9). They were baptised at 5 months so they were ok. What I did say for my dd was that my ds' were baptised at an early stage trying to show that my faith was 'sound' prior to my dd being born. When my dd was born, one of my twins was ill - he had acute tonsillitis and every time I tried to book my dd's baptism, it would flare up and I would postpone her baptism. I had PND (although not bad), my doctor also wrote a letter stating that that first year of my dd's life was difficult for me and that I was concerned in not being able to arrange my dd's baptism. My parish priest also verified that I had attended mass for a number of years and he hoped that the delay in my daughter's baptism did not deter her getting a place.

Most of the boys from my dcs primary school go to JF and I know that not all of them were under the year (you find out these things in year 6 with all the worry that is going around). Most of the reasons are sickness of either the child, sibling or parent. However, it is written in the small print of JF's policy that anything over 16 months won't really be entertained but good reasons for under will put you into the top category (assuming mass attendance is verified).

You can only do your best for your children and put everything down that impinged your ds's baptism.

AngelEyes46 Sun 11-Nov-12 20:37:50

Agree with Mordion - there are many people who are genuine and that's who the faith schools want to choose not those who have decided to 'find' faith so that their dc can get into the best school.

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