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Catholic primary schools admissions policies are just not fair
07 March 2014 by Chris Wilcocks

With the increasing pressure on school places, especially in London, I have come to the conclusion that the admissions policies for Catholic primary schools are against natural justice.

In years when Catholic schools are under subscribed with Catholic children, the places are filled with non-Catholic children. There is absolutely no problem with this.

However, a serious problem arises for parents of non-Catholic children who obtain a place for their first child in a Catholic school but do not obtain a place for a subsequent child, the school having become oversubscribed with Catholic children.

Catholic admissions policies do not rank non-Catholic children who have siblings in the school higher than Catholic childre. We should be clear that when we talk about “Catholic” children, too often we mean that they are the children of parents who will do just the minimum in terms of Mass attendance to obtain a school entry ticket.

The angst, heartbreak, stress and dislocation to family life that having young children in different schools causes cannot be understated. To say Catholic schools are inclusive, whilst committing severe injustices to so many families, is just empty rhetoric.

Chris Wilcocks is the Headteacher St Josephs RC Primary School in Rotherhithe, south-east London



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Comment by: A Governor
Posted: 10/03/2014 18:29:27

I think that Grahaa01 needs to realise that the catchment area for a Catholic (Primary) school tends to be the parish boundaries, you could live 50 metres from the school and yet be outside the catchment area. The schools have some flexibility, if there are any places remaining then they are offered those not of the Catholic faith. The decisions of admittance is not based on the good of the school, nor the good of the wider community, but rather the good of the Catholic community.

Comment by: Grahaa01
Posted: 10/03/2014 17:23:56

We live 100 metres from a Catholic school where my daughter attends. We are practising and committed Christians but not Catholic. We are praying that my son will also get in although with the school being so oversubscribed we realise there is a good chance he will not get in. I do understand that of course local Practising Catholics should get a place above my son however I do think that its wrong that a place could be given to someone 5 miles away who has a Catholic school closer to where they live. I would like to know whether Catholic schools receive any state funding in which case surely there should be some obligation to accept a small percentage of pupils from non Catholic families. Or perhaps the schools should be allowed some flexibility so that if they can make a decision based on what is best for the school and the wider school community as well as of course the needs of the families concerned. Having 2 children in different schools would be very distressing for us and both children not to
mention the logistical nightmare of getting both children to school on time and picking them up from 2 different locations.

Comment by: grainthorn
Posted: 07/03/2014 21:04:51

Catholic schools for Catholic children. If only it were that simple. There is a problem. We do have an obligation to other families once we have accepted their child. However, there is no easy solution. I am also exercised by the problem of ranking Catholic applicants according to the distance they live from the school, which could deprive a child from a practising family of a place while admitting one who has had a Baptism of convenience. The excluded family will also have been contributing to the schools bill

Comment by: Denis
Posted: 07/03/2014 18:24:59

"We should be clear that when we talk about “Catholic” children, too often we mean that they are the children of parents who will do just the minimum in terms of Mass attendance to obtain a school entry ticket."

It seems you are suggesting that it might be better to scrap religious requirements altogether and as for,
"The angst, heartbreak, stress and dislocation to family life that having young children in different schools causes cannot be understated." I think this is just a teeny bit exaggerated.

Comment by: philip
Posted: 07/03/2014 16:47:24

saying they are against "natural justice" is rather strong (and a puzzling use of the term). Surely the fault here lies entirely with the school. It should send a letter stating very clearly that if the parent wishes to take up the place no guarantee whatsoever can be made that a place will be available for a future sibling if Catholics are ahead in the admissions criteria. The parent can make a judgement then. I sympathise with your point about "entry ticket Catholics" but the solution to that is to have stricter criteria which is something that others suggest lead to different injustices.

Comment by: CONGREGENTUR
Posted: 07/03/2014 14:21:01

No space to argue: Catholic Schools for Catholics.
End of story.

Amen
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