Bishop Wand School, Shepperton - wide open to 2015 admissions appeal?(3 Posts)
I've been looking at the 2015 admissions criteria for this school, and they seem to me to breach the Admissions Code in several ways. I understand it's too late now to report them to the adjudicator for 2015, but they must be wide open to appeal. I'd be interested in others' views. Things I noticed are:
1. They define a catchment area using borough boundaries - something that is disallowed under section 1.14 of the code since the Greenwich Judgement.
2. They don't define how priests are meant to judge whether someone is practising CoE or not - i.e. they say they must be "a worshipping member of The Church of England community at least monthly for a continuous period of 12 months prior to application", but don't say how that is to be evidenced, e.g. what kind of services count towards "worship", and whether a register must be signed to prove attendance. It is all left to priest discretion, in breach of Criteria 1.37 of the code which says "Admission authorities must ensure that parents can easily understand how any faith-based criteria will be reasonably satisfied." I've heard of at least one vicar in the area who is signing off kids who don't attend church with their families but who are taken to church by their school for start/end term services, remembrance, harvest festival etc, which is a very loose definition of "at least monthly".
3. Related to the above breach, the supplementary form has a mysterious section at the end labelled "TO BE COMPLETED BY PRIEST/MINISTER/FAITH LEADER ONLY. IMPORTANT: PLEASE DO NOT COMPLETE THIS SECTION UNTIL THIS FORM IS SENT TO YOU BY THE SCHOOL FOR CONFIRMATION PURPOSES. At this time you will receive guidelines on how to complete the boxes below." Those guidelines don't seem to appear on the school website, so how are parents, or priests for that matter, meant to know what criteria are going to be used to judge the admissions?
There are a few other minor things too, but they are the main ones that jump out to me.
I think that you are miss-reading the scope of the Greenwich judgement. This was specifically to stop an LA from giving priority to pupils who live within the Borough and stop others from applying. That is not the same as in this admission criteria where specific districts, actually across two Boroughs, are defined as the catchment area of the school. There is nothing illegal about having a defined catchment area.
How the priest or other clergy decide who has met the criteria has been a sore point on admissions for years and continues to be so. Many across the country are vague and open to different interpretations, so whilst I would agree it is probably breaking para 1.37, it is not specific to this school, many faith based school admission criteria are vague.
In terms of the supplementary form, the school is asking the applicant to confirm that one parent or the pupil have attended church regularly once a month for the last twelve months. Frankly any parent is going to say yes to those questions even if they have never set foot in a church . But it is hardly a sensible way of proving it and then the school compound the problem by stating "The Governing Body reserve the right to seek confirmation of the above from such sources as it sees fit." which suggests that the GB will make the decision by means not stated as to whether the applicant meets the criteria. What the priest in the last section is commenting on is anybodies guess and as you say is hardly objective in determining whether the faith criteria has been met or not.
I agree with Admission. Just to add that the Rotherham Judgement, which came after the Greenwich Judgement, confirmed that catchment areas are allowed even if part of the catchment boundary coincides with the LA's boundary.
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