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So we did not get DS1 into any of the Catholic Boys Secondaries, and the reason was the baptism criteria. This will also be the case for ds2

(168 Posts)
PureQuintessence Sun 17-Mar-13 09:28:45

The schools did not take into account our explanations for not baptizing ds1 within the first 6 months. (Which was my dads stroke and helping mum coping and getting dad on his road to recovery was more important to me than a baptism at the time - we organized a blessing for ds1, one which is used for a child that will be baptized, so a stop gap thing sort of)

We are ok for schools for now, as ds1 has accepted an offer to an independent.

But what about ds2?

No matter how often we go to Church, and observe holy days of Obligation, he was also not baptized until it was convenient to get the family together, while visiting my home town. It will mean that there is no point even trying, as this is so important.

And do I even want to send my precious children to schools that have no empathy for people who struggle? I seriously thought we had heaps of compassionate grounds, and our priest said so in his reference, that there were compassionate reasons to accept our son. But no.

Maybe this thread should be in Aibu or Religion / Philosopy but it has made me really question our options and life choices, and whether spending 30 k a year for education for both boys is going to be worth it.

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 17:15:10

pure The UK is 1 of only 4 countries out of the 34 countries in the OECD to have faith based selection for schools, the UK, Ireland, Estonia and Israel.

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 17:25:15

On the basis that we should all count our blessings I suppose you could say that you were in, and hopefully still will be, at least in with a chance of having a choice other than the nearest local non Catholic School with places. As you probably know that was the crux of the recent rift in Richmond, that Catholic parents have always had choices local non Catholic parents did not. This year indeed some non Catholic local parents are being given no choice but the new Catholic School because the non Catholic local schools are oversubscribed, and some feel as strongly against that as you are against your local non faith school. I'd be interested to know what choices have been made for your son's peers in Year 6 at the Catholic Schools.

PureQuintessence Sun 17-Mar-13 17:31:56

Copthall, some will actually go to the new school, and did put it high up on their preference list! And incidentally some are going to non faith schools such as Orleans Park and Isleworth, and some to Christs! Some want single sex schools, and some go independent. It is a big spread! We are quite far from the new school, 15 minutes walk east of IPS (where ds seems to be going).

I am sort of also stressing prematurely for DS2 who is in Y3, as he may not be as lucky to get into an independent, and we have even less chance of an RC secondary for him! (Unless I start mending linen and join the choir wink )

PureQuintessence Sun 17-Mar-13 17:34:20

"This year indeed some non Catholic local parents are being given no choice but the new Catholic School because the non Catholic local schools are oversubscribed, and some feel as strongly against that as you are against your local non faith school."

That is of course not great for them.
But was it not the case that people were against it because it would be selective on RC grounds and people wanted it to accept a rather large percentage of non-Catholics. Was that not the result of the consultation? I thought the reason it went ahead in the first place was because it had to get non catholic pupils on roll?

muminlondon Sun 17-Mar-13 17:54:52

It went ahead because it was easier and legal for the council to set up an exclusively Catholic school than a free school with 50% community places, which would not have pleased the diocese, and would have met competition from other school groups anyway.

I'm sorry you are disappointed. But note that the new St RR does not stipulate a time limit for baptisms and although certain parishes are higher up the list, it still prioritises 'Other baptised Catholic children' over looked after children or other children who are not Catholic. Apparently in its first year they are undersubscribed as they have been offering places to non-Catholics (who cannot even get into the supposedly less popular sponsored academies, which must now be full). Non-Catholics who accept the offer this year will find their siblings pushed to the bottom of the queue when it does become oversubscribed.

edam Sun 17-Mar-13 18:16:16

It prioritises baptised Catholic children over looked-after children? Is that legal? It's certainly shocking. Looked after children are clearly vulnerable through no fault of their own and obviously sometimes have to move schools and homes quickly again through no fault of their own - it's appalling that a supposedly religious school can kick them down the pecking order, below where they would be in an ordinary state school.

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 18:27:00

No. Right from the start Lord True and the diocese went down the VA route to establish the school precisely to ensure that it would be entirely selective on faith grounds, assuming it was oversubscribed. The Catholic Church are refusing to participate in the Free School programme because it limits faith based selection to 50%. It was Vince Cable, and originally, Gove who suggested 50% faith selection would be a fair compromise between the desires of the local Catholic community and the deep concern amongst local parents about the availability of places in local non faith schools. Lord True successfully defended his right in court to set up a Catholic School with 100% faith based selection.

The only reason non Catholic parents are being offered no choice but St RR (actually not strictly speaking correct assuming RPA is not oversubscribed, they could presumably get in there, except that it seems that most of the parents concerned are in Hampton so it would be a hellish journey) is that the school does not seem to have been as desired as The Council and diocese maintained and has not been popular enough with Catholic parents for the oversubscription criteria to have kicked in, and that local parents were right and there is a shortage of places in local non faith schools. At this stage anyway as of course a lot can change between now and September.

That was this year when there was a slight decrease in the number of pupils coming out of primaries, next year there will be 144 more pupils than this year, the size of a whole new secondary and the only hope of additional places in local non faith schools will be if Turing House gets approved as a free school and finds a suitable site and gets planning approval. The Clifden site would of course have been perfect. I have no issue with Catholic Schools as I have said but I do think that setting up the school at that time on that site with exclusive admissions criteria was deeply unfair in terms of the needs of the community as a whole.

edam Sun 17-Mar-13 18:29:30

what a mess.

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 18:29:58

A bit like your experience of the application of baptism criteria it just seems a little bit lacking in empathy.

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 18:39:28

edam It is indeed and add to that this is in a borough which has one of the highest percentages of children in private schools in the country, far out of step with any measures of affluence. If it had the percentage of children going from state primaties to state secondaries of the average of London's ten most affluent boroughs it would need to establish two new secondary's to take the additional pupils, that figure is so high because parents have felt deprived of local school choice, and so many move or bear the financial strain of going private. The result is that communities formed in nurseries and primaries break up and we have a scary tutor culture . Yet the Council in it's wisdom decided to ignore all those parents and all the bulge classes straining our primaries and prioritise a Catholic School ......

PanelChair Sun 17-Mar-13 18:54:18

I'm in slight disagreement with tiggytape about how - if you decide to appeal - you should present your appeal.

There is not much point in arguing that the six month deadline for infant baptism should have been set aside for you. As has already been said, schools/LEAs have to have published admissions criteria against which to consider applications and if schools/LEAs were to set aside some or all of those criteria for some applicants, so that the admissions criteria effectively said one thing but meant another, there would be even more potential for unfairness and perverse results than there is now.

As with any secondary appeal, you need to present your arguments in terms of the prejudice (disadvantage) to your son in not attending the school outweighing the prejudice to the school in having to admit another pupil. As part of that, you can argue that you want a Catholic school, and can show your commitment as churchgoers and so on, and can even explain why your son was baptised at older than six months, but that is not quite the same thing as trying to persuade the appeal panel to treat him as if he had been baptised before six months. You can present supporting letters from your priest. But the benefit of this approach is that you can also go more widely, by bringing other arguments for your son to attend the school, be that curriculum provision or anything else.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Sun 17-Mar-13 20:42:08

Going on your choice of private school on other threads, it is apparent that you live some distance from CVMS. You have closer Catholic schools that you could have chosen. So why do you like this school so much more? Surely it's largely because it has a better quality of pupil intake. And it has that because it is selective.

I personally find faith selection both unfair and immoral. It attempts to rank people in a rather distasteful ladder of virtue.

I'm sure there are young 'Tri's, 'Quad's and 'Sext's out there who didn't meet the criteria and live even closer to the school. Maybe their parents didn't baptise them soon enough either. Perhaps it was because they were too busy shooting up heroin or lying in a gutter somewhere. Are those children less deserving of a solid Catholic schooling if they wanted it? Really?

The real issue you have is not the selective school that cherry picks its pupils. (If it didn't cherry pick it wouldn't have even made your list as you are so far away.) The problem is with those local comprehensives that are not inspiring any confidence in you.

prh47bridge Sun 17-Mar-13 20:48:53

edam - A faith school must, as a minimum, prioritise looked after children of the faith ahead of all other faith-based criteria. Similarly looked after children who are not of the faith must be prioritised over other children who do not meet the faith criteria. They are allowed to prioritise children meeting faith-based criteria over looked after children who do not meet the faith criteria.

PureQuintessence - I am going to disagree a little with PanelChair for once! CVMS say in their admissions policy:

The Governors will take account of factors which delayed your son’s baptism ONLY if this was as a result of events which were entirely beyond your control and NOT a matter of parental choice. Examples of circumstances beyond parental control include the death/serious illness of a boy’s parent/sibling, serious illness of boy, adoption, delay caused by the parish, (civil) wars, domestic abuse, care proceedings, reception into the Church after the boy’s birth. When you make your application, you must explain what these events were AND you must provide written evidence from a priest or other person acting in a professional capacity which fully corroborates the reasons for delayed baptism.

On that basis there is, in my view, an argument that CVMS should have taken account of your situation. There are clearly some circumstances in which they do set aside the 6 months requirement. The question is whether they should have done so for you.

You should also, as PanelChair says, argue that your son will be disadvantaged by not attending the school.

PanelChair Sun 17-Mar-13 21:07:31

Hmm. I admit I was thinking in general terms about appeals where the child does not fufil the published criteria (whether about baptism or anything else) and hadn't seen this school's admissions criteria. Again, in general terms, there are potentially two aspects of any appeal - were the published criteria correctly and appropriately and, beyond that, will the prejudice to the child outweigh the prejudice to the school? Here, I can see that there is scope for arguing that the governors should have used their discretion.

Floggingmolly Sun 17-Mar-13 21:16:08

CVMS is fiendishly difficult to get a place at; are you sure if you got past the baptism timing you'd have a chance? I think the first criteria is distance; they've effectively filtered out anyone living outside Holland Park.

edam Sun 17-Mar-13 21:18:03

prh47 - that sucks. Looked after children and those with a medical or social need (eg disability) should come top of any list.

BarryShitpeas Sun 17-Mar-13 21:22:57

I am really not sure that the "bullying" culture does exist at the local state secondaries. But I wish you well in your appeal.

PanelChair Sun 17-Mar-13 21:25:48

correctly and appropriately applied ...

PureQuintessence Sun 17-Mar-13 21:50:13

Guinevere, I would be keen to know which closer RC secondaries you refer to!
John Bosco is moving in the next year or two. Wimbledon College might be closer in distance, but my neighbours son needs an hour to get there in the morning!

You are absolutely right that the local comprehensive dont inspire confidence. Choosing a school that appears right for your dc is a complex matter is it not, and not only based on Ofsted rating. Ashcroft is rated Outstanding, but my ds would probably end up in the naughty wing and get stuck there! He has experienced some pretty severe bullying, and sometimes act out. I want a school that can show him empathy and see beyond what at first sight could be classified as bad behaviour. He is socially clumsy. Despite not being entirely accepted, he is very happy in his small rc primary. The teachers have tackled his issues with a basis in a Christian Ethos, and do to others as you want them to behave towards you, attitude, trying to show him love and understanding. Great pastoral care is my key feature in a school.

This is why my key questions to teachers and existing pupils alike have been related to bullying, bullying policies and pastoral care, not A level results.

This is what we liked about CVMS and G.

PureQuintessence Sun 17-Mar-13 21:53:42

Based on all your great advice, if I do go ahead with an appeal (and no, I dont know if he would have stood a chance if had been baptized in time) I will not just focus on the baptism but the pastoral care and how I believe he will thrive in these schools, and have a lot to give.

admission Sun 17-Mar-13 21:56:11

There appears to be a little used mechanism which is called the certificate of reception into the catholic church. This is I am told is the correct way that a priest can confirm that they accept that a child was not baptised quickly after birth but is considered to be a practicing catholic.
I only know about it because it came up at an admission appeal. If parents are looking to get into a catholic school then can I suggest that they look into getting this certificate organised in plenty of time and that having got they formally ask the schools concerned to confirm that they will accept this as evidence equivalent to on time baptism. If the school does not accept it, even when you have got it, I personally would at an appeal be very minded to say that the governing body as the admission authority have not carried out their correct admission process under such situations,

tiggytape Sun 17-Mar-13 22:11:39

I would definitely follow Panel Chair, prh and admission's suggestions as they are the MN experts on this.
I think the reason my friend went to so much trouble to get a priest's letter from her home country and then get it translated was there was provision in the admission criteria at her school to say 'before 6 months unless there was a compelling reason why this was not possible' or something to that effect.
She proved the compelling reason so got treated as if baptism was before 6 months even though it was later due to illness. If admissions had ignored her proof (they didn't - she got a place on March 1st), she intended to appeal that decision.

Appeals however do still rely on also proving the benefits to the child of attending the school outweigh the prejudice (harm) to the school of accepting one more pupil so you would still need to outline the need for good pastoral care, the curriculum suitability, clubs and extras and of course the faith elements that are important to you and that would benefit your child.

Ironbluemayfly Sun 17-Mar-13 22:20:40

This is all really shocking. All stuff that isn't the child's fault. I hope Pope Francis sorts out the church.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Sun 17-Mar-13 22:36:47

I was thinking of St John Bosco's current location tbh. Although surely when it moves it won't be much further in distance (if at all) than CVMS? Is St RR much different?

I think your reasons for wanting the schools you want is completely understandable. But their advantages are still linked to them being selective. It's much easier and feasible to provide strong pastoral care when all the pupils are all from supportive families.

FWIW, I have a choice of approximately one(1) secondary school unless we go private. Thankfully, it's reasonably well regarded but I've no idea if it's going to be the ideal school for my dc. I do occasionally hear tales of bullying etc, and I'm afraid I just have to stick my fingers in my ears and sing "lalala", whilst praying that it isn't the fate of my own offspring. Fact is, even at the supposedly happiest schools, there'll still be some children who are unhappy.

PureQuintessence Sun 17-Mar-13 23:27:23

Guinevere - St John Bosco would be relatively good for us in its current location. But when it moves it will be a long journey involving more than one bus and walks either end. 15 minutes just to get to the nearest bus stop (my walking speed) and then a long bus journey (compared to a short bus journey where it is now). We are sort of R H L way, half way up! St RR an hour by bus and train. I know lots of people put up with very long journeys to and from school, but it would be a lot easier if the child did not have to. Funnily then, because it is only one bus to CVMS it is easier to get there from here than both John Bosco (when it moves) st RR and Wimbledon! Sounds insane!

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