This week my youngest child started at our chosen secondary school: Faith High. In the end we played the sibling card to get her in; neither my wife or I could bear another few years of wasting our Sunday mornings listening to nonsense in church whilst the kids fidgeted next to us. Probably why I stopped updating the blog: no hours of resentment to fuel my need to rant about the injustice of the situation online.
So, it all ended well.
For us at least. In the news today we learn that, along with the wrong-headed plan to bring back grammar schools, the Government is planning on dropping restrictions on the number of children from the faith that faith schools may admit. I think this only apples to new faith schools (academies?) as I don’t think there was a restriction on the percentage of “CofE children” Faith High could admit.
My fear is that in the uproar over grammar schools (which will be hard to implement as nearly everyone is against including large sections of the Tory party) the change to the faith school rules will be overlooked and the school system in England and Wales will become more segregated and less inclusive. To the benefit of no-one.
Anyway, thank you to anyone who has bothered to read any part of this blog; hope it wasn’t a waste of your time.
This article in the Telegraph shows that faith-based schools admissions rules are still an ongoing problem for many parents – in fact it seems to be getting worse.
The article seems to take a biased view agaist non-believing churchgoers, describing them as “breaking the rules”. However, I don’t think we are breaking the rules – at least not the letter of them. The admissions procedure asks for proof of attendance and, whilst this may be an indicator of faith, it is by no means a guarantee of it.
Finally, as Andrew Penman says in the article:
“I didn’t choose the selection criteria that meant that half the places were reserved for churchgoers,” says Penman, author of School Daze: My Search for a Decent State Secondary School (published by Mogzilla). “In effect, it is discriminating against local families who do not follow this particular brand of religion.”
The notification email was recieved last week. Child One has got into our preferred (faith) school. The email and subsequent letter was just a simple offer: no confirmation that it was the Vicar’s letter than swung it.
We now need to decide if we continue to attend church or whether we play the “sibling card” for our other child.
The application has been submitted – including the note to the Vicar outlining our “commitment” to the Church! In a few more weeks we hear if our eldest has got into Faith High. Indications are good.
Assuming all goes to plan, what do we do next? We still have Child 2 to get into school. Looking at the admissions criteria I am tempted to just play the sibling card and stop going to church. This effectively moves Child 2 from priority 2 to priority 5 on the list. Dropping down, to be sure, but she would still be above those first borns who don’t have the Vicar’s letter.
Not sure what the best plan is. Would dearly love to stop going to church. But should I risk it?
First post in a while. Just been plugging away, turning up at church every other week. Smiling and being nice to the Vicar to make sure he knows who we are.
But now the end is in sight. This week I will be writing a little note explaining all our family’s involvement in and commitment to the Church. This will be submitted with our application for a school place. This should be enough to ensure we get a place before families who haven’t bothered going to church. Which is the whole point.
Actually, the CofE process where we are seems to be fairly painless. I’ve heard anecdotal evidence from other places and other Churches (the Roman Catholics mainly) of parents being interviewed by priests, details of additional activities and donations being looked for, etc, etc. I’d say we should count ourselves lucky – except that the system is so undeniably unfair and broken.
I’m usually out of my comfort zone when attending church. I can cope: sing the hymns, mumble the nonsense, take communion. But a few weeks ago was different. The Vicar informed us that we would be having “discussion groups” instead of a sermon. We would be getting together in groups of half-a-dozen to discus “How being a Christian made a change to our daily lives”.
The horror. I was seriously tempted to leg-it out of the building, but managed to resist. This may have looked worse than the look on my face that I was trying to suppress. Maybe. So I sat through the first half with a feeling of dread upon me.
At the appointed time, a well-meaning lady asked us to join her group. Could not really refuse.
So there we sat. Smiling and nodding for all we were worth with a group of believers discussing how their faith guided them in daily life. Were unable to contribute as “Err, it doesn’t ‘cos I don’t have one” would not have fitted the bill. Fortunately, like most discussion groups, there were a couple of people who dominated the proceedings so we were able to mouth a few things and no more.
I think I might have to avoid Church for a few weeks and take some soundings to see if they are going to do this every week! (Unfortunately, that would be a lot of “face-time” to miss when we need the letter signed in September.)
A story has been reported in a quite a few places recently. Here’s The Guardian piece on a Bishop calling for the changing of CofE admissions procedures.
Given some of the coverage (yes, I mean the Daily Mail and it’s ilk) you’d be forgiven for thinking that all CofE schools are to abandon their ability to manage their own admissions and start turning away the children of the faithful in favour of the offspring of criminals and crack-heads.
Look carefully at the article. It says the Bishop is “encouraging” CofE schools to reduce their allocated faith-places to 10%. It does not say the Church is going to compel them to do this – and the CofE probably doesn’t have the power to do so anyway.
It won’t happen. At present faith is used as a proxy for parents who give a damn about their kid’s education: the ones who will go to church to get into a better school. This will tend to favour higher-achieving, better-behaved pupils. Thus the faith school does well in terms of exam results, goes up the league tables and becomes more sought after….
If this changed, then far fewer parents would attend church to get the place (there would be no need) and so Church attendance would decline further. The CofE wouldn’t like this.
The intake of the CofE school would then be much closer to the nearby community schools and so it’s position in the league tables above them would fall. The Schools wouldn’t like this.
So, unless compelled, the Schools are unlikely to adopt this policy to a significant degree. And they are unlikely to be compelled by a Government that is setting up Academies as fast as it can – Academies that have even more control over their admissions policies than current faith schools.
A shame because the Bishop’s comments are quite sensible.