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Admissions criteria changes at The Oratory, Twyford, Grey Coat Hospital, Archbishop Blanch

(17 Posts)
preswim Tue 11-Feb-14 18:53:06

Mumsnetters in London and Liverpool might be interested to hear that following criticism by the Schools Adjudicator, these schools are all now having to change their admissions policies. See here for details.

Reincarnatedpig Tue 11-Feb-14 19:58:30

A move in the right direction - I live in London - I know kids at 3 of the schools and I would definitely describe them as socially exclusive.

GoldenBeagle Tue 11-Feb-14 20:22:15

Far from appealing and complying to minimum standards with minimum grace, I am surprised these schools are not embarrassed to spend state money on an education allocated on the basis of the parents social life after mass.

Why aren't they ashamed? Do they see themselves above earthly law ? Or have a rather particular understanding of Christianity?

WhoWasThatMaskedWoman Tue 11-Feb-14 20:41:52

The DD of an acquaintance of mine applied to one of the listed schools some years ago, before interviews were banned. She was a very devout Christian and a pillar of her local church. However, she was not offered a place. Apparently the daughter's interview focussed heavily on whether Daddy lived with them (he didn't) and why mummy wasn't married.

prh47bridge Tue 11-Feb-14 23:36:17

I'm not surprised. I'm glad they are finally being brought into line, albeit with bad grace and with The Oratory talking about judicial review (which in my view would not be a sensible move).

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Tue 11-Feb-14 23:55:03

Interesting. A family member applied this year to one of the schools on that list. We were discussing admissions criteria/choice of schools a couple of years ago and I was sure that it breached the admissions code. I did suggest that they checked it but I don't think they did.

I think I decided that it must be OK as no one seemed to have challenged it. Obviously not.

preswim Wed 12-Feb-14 07:48:18

Rafals, until recently only people directly affected (i.e. prospective parents) could challenge admissions criteria, and that didn't happen very often because people didn't know the rules. However the system has now changed so anyone can report cases to the adjudicator. That's why these cases are suddenly coming into the public eye. The Fair Admissions Campaign, the Accord Coalition, and other groups are doing a good job of raising them on behalf of parents.

missinglalaland Wed 12-Feb-14 09:19:58

Politicians, hello Nick Clegg, should get as much stick for sending their children to the Brompton Oratory as they do for going private. The Catholic school wheeze (and I am from a devout Catholic family) is untenable in my opinion. Funnelling taxes towards particular children based on their parents' social behaviour is even more unfair than basing it on testing (grammars.). It drains resources from the poor and disadvantaged in a way that even choosing Public school does not.
Our local primary school is CofE. It takes all comers based on straight line distance and siblings. The local church feels privileged to impact the children's lives at the school, taking care to be sensitive towards those with different faiths or no faith. Meanwhile, at the state catholic school a mile up the road, the priest has suggested direct debits to prospective parents. I kid you not. Sending your child there means an interview with the priest where he picks over your private family life.
And all this nonsense is being facilitated by my tax payments! Nice.

tess73 Wed 12-Feb-14 10:54:23

I don't disagree BUT the London oratory admissions criteria has changed constantly in the last 20 years.
Hammer smith & Fulham keep making them prioritise distance to school over "Catholicism" but whenever they do they show that their social inclusiveness measure plummets, ie you only get very rich SW6 children. When they can deprioritise distance less well off children from further afield get in.
I was there in the 90's for sixth form, there were a handful of very rich children but the majority not, a lot from Tower hill, walthamstow etc council houses with very devout Irish catholic mothers!

Everhopeful Wed 12-Feb-14 12:25:07

The article is interesting - I had no idea so few (relatively) of the girls at GCH had EAL, since nearly all the ones DD is friends with do. Perhaps it's just her year! Since it's a language school, they prioritise those with an aptitude for it and the class that got highest marks in the test study 3 languages and most appear to be of foreign origin looking at the names.

It can be very hard for faith schools to do what's right: on the one hand, if they want to promulgate their faith's teachings, they need to feel sure the parents will support them, so it does tend to end up being a test of parents which felt unfair even at the time. On the other is tess's point - I think GCH's ability to bring the girls in from all over London is more likely to improve inclusion, not less. Westminster has a strange social mix, so it might be less relevant for them than for the Oratory, but I still think it's probably the case. For us, we wanted a faith school (why they get better results, I have no idea, but they mostly do) and DD wanted a girls' school, which only exists round here if you're Catholic. Her friends are mostly closer to the school than she is, ranging from literally over the road to the other side of town, and from a broad range of backgrounds as far as I can see.

I'm not sure I can see that removing the faith option will improve social inclusion that much for the country as a whole and I'm pretty sure it won't improve results. Still, I accept that's just my opinion.

preswim Wed 12-Feb-14 16:07:17

Tess I suspect the intake has changed considerably since the nineties. School admissions are more competitive across the board, and league tables have made the highest performing schools very visible and very desirable. People are travelling long distances to some of these schools, and doing years of church service in advance of that. Only the most organised get in, and that inevitably limits their social intake.

tess73 Wed 12-Feb-14 16:46:30

But does it limit the social intake as much as saying you can only come if you live within 1000m of the school door? Only the richest can afford to plan house moves to maximize their chances. It doesn't take money to get your son to be an altar boy, or polish the silver does it ? Our priest/school make it very clear in plenty of time that if you want to go to any of the sought after catholic schools you have to be doing x,y,z to maximize your chances. Where we have faith schools (whether that is right is another discussion) giving priority to those active in the parishes does seem fairer and open to all rather than basing it purely on distance to school.

preswim Wed 12-Feb-14 16:50:28

"I had no idea so few (relatively) of the girls at GCH had EAL"

Of course London has high levels of EAL anyway, so it's not surprising that there still seems to be a lot at GCH. That's why the Fair Admissions Campaign's data compares schools to others in their own local areas as a measure of how socially selective they are.

I think it's also fair to say that EAL isn't as reliable an indicator of social deprivation as FSM. When the map was first published there was some Mumsnet discussion about that, here.

tess73 Wed 12-Feb-14 17:03:57

EAL = Social deprivation, are you joking.
I think it is very polarised.
The richest kids in our school are European/Argentinian and speak Spanish/French/Italian as first language. What about expats, diplomats' kids??
I guess in inner city schools where half the kids come to school not speaking English that is a different story.

preswim Wed 12-Feb-14 17:04:39

"But does it limit the social intake as much as saying you can only come if you live within 1000m of the school door?"

They're still allowed (currently) to select based on church attendance. It's just the "service" part of it that is outlawed. As it says in the article, some of the schools will require up to 8 years' weekly church attendance. That's a lot.

Whether the part of the admissions code that allows selection based on church attendance is changed in future is a separate debate.

"giving priority to those active in the parishes does seem fairer and open to all"

It's not equally open to all. It's more difficult for people who have chaotic family lives, or who have disabilities, or learning difficulties, or communication difficulties, no matter how religious they are. (And of course it's much less open to people from other religions or no religion).

tess73 Wed 12-Feb-14 17:05:19

And these kids tend to be the brightest too, from clever, globally mobile parents with jobs requiring them to move around.

preswim Wed 12-Feb-14 17:09:50

"EAL = Social deprivation, are you joking."

Well that's why I said it wasn't reliable. The Government still use it as a measure though.

As I said, FSM is a more reliable measure. The FAC map uses that too.

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