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Success stories in getting into catholic secondary school with delayed baptism? (London school madness)

(46 Posts)
littlecrystal Mon 15-Apr-13 14:11:50

That is really the question. We are located somewhere in between of John Fisher, St. Joseph’s and Bishop Thomas Grant. Based on Good Schools Guide website we would stand a fair chance to get into all of them IF DS was baptized “on time”. Now, I am not sure as DS was baptized at 17 months. We can try and explain our reasons, but it will not be anything straightforward – basically we had a very difficult life at the time including eviction from our home (due to fault of landlords, not ours), my depression (only diagnosed around baptism time but dragged since the difficult birth of DS), no friends and family around for support, immigration issues for DH, poor DH’s health (only diagnosed after the baptism so no clear evidence before the baptism) etc. I am so stressed that the admissions will not accept any of the reasons and we will fall under the late baptism category and will lose our chance to go into a catholic secondary. Should we even bother applying?

Thank you!

zipzap Mon 15-Apr-13 14:23:48

I know nothing about late baptism for schools - but just wanted to say that from reading the thread title I was assuming you were going to get ds baptized at the age of 10 when it suddenly became obvious that your dc needed to be baptised to get into school!

Why not call the schools and ask for their advice?

Given your ds was still really young when he was baptised and that there were extenuating circumstances, doesn't seem fair that you get penalised for it now! It's hardly like the most important thing that occurs to you when you are in the middle of a whole load of strife and your dc is just 4 months old - oh if I don't get him baptised now it's going to affect his senior school choices...

Good luck - hopefully they will see sense for you!

It would have been different if you had baptized your ds at age 10 - then that would have seemed unfair to have lumped him in with others that were baptized at 4 months old. But would have thought that any sort of baptism at least under 4 or 5 years should have been grouped together. Otherwise it's going to get to the point that people are dashing to have the earliest possible baptism as delaying for a week or two, to when Auntie Maud can come too or choosing a different god parent because the person you'd like to have can't come immediately or because you got baptised at 3 months and 3 weeks and 3 days rather than at 3 months and 3 weeks and a day just because of the day that you happened to be born closer to a sunday or because your vicar did baptisms on a saturday instead of fitting them into the sunday service... all bonkers ways to provide eligibility criteria for subsequent admission to senior school many years down the line!

littlecrystal Mon 15-Apr-13 14:46:03

zipzap I enjoyed reading your post, thank you! It does not seem very fair looking from the angle you mentioned, but not everything is fair in this world and I have got to be realistic.
Sometimes I regret sending DS to a catholic primary – what is the point if might be not able to follow his peers at the secondary level?

AnythingNotEverything Mon 15-Apr-13 14:51:03

In the end it will depend on the school's policy, but I would've thought you stood a good chance by attending the feeder school.

The policy often contains stats about last year's intake, and you can check how many non baptised Catholics were admitted.

Save any worry and speak with the school re their admissions policy. I agree with pp that 17 months is hardly a delayed baptism. Are you regular at church? Maybe you could ask your priest to support your application.

KingscoteStaff Mon 15-Apr-13 15:17:27

I have a nasty feeling that this is not going to turn out well. The Oratory and Cardinal Vaughan require baptism before 6 months, so that may be 'on time'.

However, they get used to explaining their peculiar methods to parents, so give them a ring.

Farewelltoarms Mon 15-Apr-13 15:25:30

A friend got her child into v sought after London secondary with a late baptism. She collated a full file with medical information, social service stuff etc to do with her particular situation. Her child was not the only child from the primary to have successful entrance to this particular school with late baptism. However, they all lived in the borough and apparently there has been some pressure from the LEA (don't know if that's true or not).

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 15-Apr-13 15:40:16

Are you in one of the croydon parishes? Would your PP support your application? Which primary school is your DS at?

Blu Mon 15-Apr-13 15:55:24

BTG say priority will be given to children who were baptised within the first year - but they don't actually say how that priority is implemented within the other categories. They do prioritise in order of how frequently a child attends mass - so maybe if the 'weekly' category is over-subscribed they start to prioritise within that cetegory - they say in terms of siblings ('close family relationships') and then distacne - but they don't say at what point they prioritise baptism within a year.

Very opaque admissions policy actually hmm.

Ask the schools, and check what is said in the borough's admissions booklet. The LA has to give details of the admissions categories and last distances etc for the last year.

The Good Schools guide frequently gives out dated and mis-information IMO and IME. (totally wrong on admission prospects for schools in my area, anyway)

tiggytape Mon 15-Apr-13 17:51:05

Where early baptism is required (it isn't for all Catholic Schools) the justification is that Catholic canons require all Catholic parents to have babies baptised in "the first weeks after birth". It is nothing to do with forward planning for school places!

The Catholic church however recognises it sometimes needs to be delayed and if you have evidence to explain this applies to you, then you can submit this and have your application treated as if you had applied on time.

I have one friend who suffered family illness that delayed baptism although not by so long and got a priest's letter from her own country to explain this (and then paid to have it translated in a way that was acceptable to the admissions people). Her DS got accepted in the first allocations as they were able to convince the admissions authority to treat them as if the baptism had taken place before 6 months even though it was slightly later than this.

tiggytape Mon 15-Apr-13 17:52:00

treated as if you had had him baptised on time. (sorry I have admissions on the brain!)

tiggytape Mon 15-Apr-13 17:54:16

And in answer to your last question - yes you should apply anyway.

Parents cannot appeal to a school that they never applied to in the first place.

So even if they reject your reasons for late baptism and you don't get a place, by applying to one or all of them (depending on how wisely you need to use your total of 6 preferences) you keep the door open for waiting lists and appeals at a later date.

BarkisIsWilling Mon 15-Apr-13 21:57:00

My daughter was baptised at a year and a month old, my son at a year and 4 months. They were both admitted into their catholic secondary schools without any hassle beyond my filling in the CAF & supplementary forms.

tiggytape Mon 15-Apr-13 23:04:32

BarkisISWilling - it depends on the school.
Each can have very different admission criteria

Some Catholic schools get few applicants and take all who apply regardless of faith.

Some take siblings and those who attend mass even if not very often or those who are baptised and don't attend mass.

Some (generally the most popular ones) are much stricter and favour candidates with early baptism. So many children apply who were baptised early that those baptised late cannot get in. The schools the OP is looking at are of the 'strict' variety.
Their criteria may include attending mass weekly, having taken First Holy Communion, having been baptised before 6 months (for top priority) or before a year (for second priority) and because hundreds apply, if you don't meet the top few criteria, you won't get a place.

sashh Tue 16-Apr-13 07:20:27

This has only become a criteria when Polish and other Eastern European children arrived in the UK.

In Eastern Europe it is common to not baptise a baby before their first birthday whereas in UK it is normally done more quickly.

Yes I am cynical.

I think if your child is called John Smith this won't be a problem, if your surname is Polish you might

tiggytape Tue 16-Apr-13 07:41:12

sashh - Children from countries where early baptism is not usual (or possible) can get letters of exemption from this requirement to ensure they are not treated unfairly by it.
If anything, it is people who have always lived in this country but choose to baptise their children late who miss out as they don't have a valid reason for this in the way others might (unless illness etc was a factor at the time of the child's birth)

littlecrystal Tue 16-Apr-13 12:51:52

Thank you for all responses. To be honest it doesn't get much clearer as it is and the schools on open evenings weren't very clear with our chances - I guess they were trying to avoid being responsible for their words.

majurormi Tue 16-Apr-13 14:15:19

I think you need to document everything you can with facts for the initial application, If he does not get in, appeal. It might be tricky if the school is heavily oversubscribed as they need some way to weed out children.
The comment from sashh alluding to racism is silly. Vatican II stated that all children should be baptised by 6 months of age. Church doctrine trumps local customs. This has been around a lot longer than the influx of Polish immigrants to the UK.

littlecrystal Tue 16-Apr-13 15:31:19

majurormi I think I have but I also have to have a back up school.

viktoria Tue 16-Apr-13 20:01:06

Hello Crystal, my son was baptised when he was 17 months old and he got a place at BTG in September 2012. We are very happy with the school.
I think at the Oratory or Cardinal Vaughan, it is much harder (but not impossible) to get in with a late baptism.
We also applied to the Oratory and got full points (I think it was 4 out of 4) for the baptism - our reason for the late baptism was my dad's illness, and they accepted that.
I don't know about John Fisher or St. Joseph, but as a back up, have you considered Wimbledon College? As far as I know, they accept late baptism, and their catchment area also seems to get wider.
Good luck

BarkisIsWilling Tue 16-Apr-13 20:44:40

tiggytape, I am puzzled at your response to my answer to the poster's question, particularly since AFAIK, you had, at the time of your post, no knowledge of which schools my children attend.

littlecrystal, my son starts at one the colleges named upthread in September, and my daugher is at another (of the variety described by tiggytape). HTH.

littlecrystal Tue 16-Apr-13 21:42:36

viktoria as you say that you had an obvious reason for the late baptism, I understand that they took that into account.

Unfortunately my reasons are so complex - I can write 5 pages about it and attach relevant references, but cannot get one straightforward evidence (like medical evidence etc.)

BarkIsWilling you say your son starts at the college so I guess it is St. J college? Did you apply and got in under the late baptism category, or tried to prove special circumstances and move one category up?

littlecrystal Tue 16-Apr-13 21:43:57

Can I hire someone professional to write about my case on the application for me?

tiggytape Tue 16-Apr-13 21:57:01

That is very true bark.
You said your children got into Catholic schools with no problems despite late baptism and I replied that some Catholic schools are more strict about these things than others which is also perfectly true.

If you are saying your children got into ones with strict admission criteria despite late baptism then I am not disputing that.
It is possible to satisfy the admissions authority that your late baptism is for good reason and should be treated as being 'on time'.
It is also possible that, if fewer children applied that year than normal, even the strict schools will admit children lower down the pecking order for admissions and therefore children baptised after a year can still get a place.

However OP was worried about being in a higher birth rate year group where potentially hundreds apply who are all baptised early because then it is possible she might lose out on a place if herr children were baptised late and date of baptism is used as a deciding factor. In that case, rather than wait and see, she can take steps to present her case and get the baptisms treated as late with good reason (and therefore count as before 6 months)

BarkisIsWilling Tue 16-Apr-13 22:04:14

I don't know under what category he got in (the way you ask it). All I know is, I completed the forms, provided the baptism, holy communion certificates/other docs - BTG asks for bills, for example, and did not make ANY mitigating statement whatsoever. There was space for any other comment on some of the forms, but not all. I chose to leave them blank. I worked on the principle of least said soonest mended and only provided the minimum asked for. My only particpation in parish life is regular mass attendance and contributions to fetes and the like - if that info is of any use.

Again, I am still recovering from helping a friend 8 years ago to construct a detailed statement about her and her family's involvement in church/related activities in support of her son's application to John Fisher. Thank God we don't have to do all that any more.

By and large, London catholic school forms are changing and becoming more simplified (partly to reduce the disadvantage faced by people for whom English is a 2nd language in filling in the old ones, logical when you consider how in London many catholic parishes are more "ethnic" than UK white). So rather than work yourself into a panic, print off the forms and scrutinise them. You'll see that it is not really a question of jumping through flaming hoops, but of providing information in a straightforward way.

Which primary school is your son at?

Floggingmolly Tue 16-Apr-13 22:05:00

Don't cite your child's ill health as an reason. They may well ask why that didn't make it imperative to get him baptised sooner, rather than later.

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