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?
The Church of England’s baptism rite is in the news at the moment. Apparently, they’ve noticed that fewer and fewer children are being baptised and have concluded that, rather than people being less and less interested in religion, it is due to the archaic wording of the service. It goes on about “entering the Kingdom of Heaven” – or so they say: I was one month old when I was done so my memory is a little hazy.
Last week as we left Church, we got chatting to the Vicar – all good face-time. Make sure he sees us in the pews and knows who we are for when the all important letter needs signing. He asked if our children had been baptised. If I’d been quick, I’d have just lied and said “Yes”. (I’m sure there’s a record in the CofE somewhere, but he’s hardly likely to check it.) Unfortunately, my wife was quicker and more honest. The children haven’t been baptised. He suggested we do something about it and has offered to come round for a chat.
Hence the title of this post. My bookshelf is full of books by Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, Grayling of the “new” atheists, and some “old” atheists like Russell and Flew. Some popular science on Darwin and some sceptical biblical criticism. I even have a copy of the Book of Mormon I pinched from a US hotel room. Thankfully, there’s also a Bible in the house somewhere.
As I contemplate moving at least a shelf-full of the more damning ones, I wonder if we’ve got too involved….
An interesting article in The Guardian from the other side of the admissions procedure. It seems that – not only are the parent’s playing games to get the school of their choice – the schools are playing games to get the ‘right’ children in. I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone, but it it useful to see it confirmed by someone who has witnessed it.
This makes me wonder about the admissions policies from the school I am considering. At the meeting that I described a while back Faith High were keen to stress that it is possible to get into their school without a Vicar’s letter. At the time I thought this was charitable of them – or maybe they were facing the reality of falling rolls in my daughter’s year – now I wonder.
The primary school my children attend is one of the ‘better’ ones in the area with a good intake. Does Faith High give the same reassurance to some of the nearby primaries with not such a good reputation?
It’s a little early for us – our eldest is just entering Year 5 – but we are starting to get an idea of how the admissions procedure for Faith School High (as I shall call it) works. There seems to be a lot of confusion and rumour about getting in to the school judging on some of the conversations I’ve had with parents: I guess this reflects the anxiety around the whole thing.
I recently attended a meeting given by Faith High to parents of children in Years 4, 5, and 6. The official admissions seems to work in the following order:
- Looked-after children get first pick – I think this is a legal requirement. There are not likely to be more than a hand-full of these at most.
- Then children from a Church of England background with the letter from the Vicar. About 40% of Faith High’s intake comes this way.
- Next, children from another Christian denomination. (This might explain the story that so-and-so went to the Methodist church for over two years and still didn’t get her kids in.)
- Children from another faith.
- The siblings of children already there.
- Then children from a short list of approved catchment Primaries. This was an odd one: the list was not a list of nearby CofE schools as you would expect. Indeed, some were quite a distance away, and our children’s school – which is CofE and one of the nearest Primary Schools to Faith High – was not on this list. The representative at the meeting explained this was because they were “diocese schools”. Not sure what they are: I might spend something trying to disentangle the different types of faith school sometime.
- Those who have put the school as first choice and got the application letter in by the deadline. (Non-believers, know your place.)
That’s about it, I think. This is mainly from memory.
One woman, with great candour, asked if this meant it was possible to get in without going to Church. They replied, Yes, it was and that there are children at Faith High who are not looked-after, do not come from a faith background and have no siblings at the school. She looked relieved. I think I have seen her in church recently; I wonder is I will again?
But… Given that the whole exercise was to sell the school to us, should I therefore stop attending Church (“Hallelujah!”) and trust to the admissions process? Hmmm…. As this means moving your place in the pecking-order from slot 2 to slot 7 probably not.
So, given that the alternative is Sink Estate College, we will continue with the church-going and try to end up in slot 2.
The one positive thing we can take from this is that if you can hold your nose and attend church, you’re almost guaranteed a place. This probably explains why so many are complicit in this obviously partisan and unfair admissions system.
(Part 2 will be about how we actually get the letter signed by the Vicar when the time comes.)