C of E school, but I hate the church

(31 Posts)

Our local primary school is not good. At all. There is a C of E primary school also local to us which is better in every way. It's extremely competitive and priority is given to families who attend the church-fair enough.

I'm a Christian, DD is christened, we have tried this church (we moved a few months ago so had to stop going to our old church). I hate it. HATE it. Hate it badly enough that on one occasion I had to walk out of a service. (I did apologise to the vicar and his wife!) It's very evangelical, and I'm just not.

After trying this church a few times I gave up and am now going to the local cathedral. Fine.

The school is popular enough that although they say people who attend other churches get priority after families that attend this particular church, in reality unless you go to this church your child has no chance.

So, do we fake evangelical enthusiasm for the next 11 years in order to get DD into a school that is better in every way, and that we genuinely love? I have no problem with evangelical worship, it's just not for me. I don't mind DD going to services there if she wants to/school organises things.

Or do we carry on going to our preferred church and accept that DD will almost certainly have to go to the other school, that is really quite awful?

I feel like school choices shouldn't be a bloody moral dilemma sad

mummytime Tue 20-Nov-12 09:53:41

I would also talk to people at the Cathedral where you do go like the Dean, and become part of the "community" or whatever they call it. Most people at Cathedrals do also have a connection to another Church btw.

DilysPrice Tue 20-Nov-12 08:10:37

Seriously I don't think you should have any qualms at all about going (perhaps midweek) until the day that DD starts school and then switching back to your preferred church. Even on MN I think you'd have to look very hard to find someone judgy enough to disapprove.

I did say it was snobby! If other people like it that's great but it doesn't feel right for me. I'm not judging them; it's just not worship as I expect it. Faith is personal.

MrsJamin Tue 20-Nov-12 06:29:51

DS1 is in a c of e school, I think you should be able to qualify if you go to your preferred service once a month for a year.

To be totally honest I think you need to adjust your judgeypants on saying that "their worship isn't real" just because it's not in the style that you prefer- it may be worth looking up the definition of worship?! Worship comes from the heart and happens within, even though the expression of it externally may differ to how you express yours.

birdofthenorth Mon 19-Nov-12 19:07:18

prh47 thanks- reading back what I wrote it does sound terrible, sorry! I should have explained that by hidden criteria I mean not published on the council website -you would have to esque with the school/ vicar for details of what constitutes regular, which would then be given. Just as if you enquired about parish map boundaries they would be given as further info, etc.

And yes, since becoming chair I have now asked that the vicar's report be written, as I too thought a verbal "they've been quite a lot for a while" unacceptable. The written reports are still a bit vague though as the church does a head count each week but not a register, so tend to be backed up by a judgement by the vicar (this bit, an agree with you, is slightly dodgy terrain). I have never had someone actually give dates of their attendance but if they did I can only imagine the vicar would corroborate it as s/he has no written evidence to the contrary. The governor vote comes in when having to decide if the vicar's reference does indeed out them into the qualifying category above the other criteria, which is done on the question "does the reference validate attendance on Sunday monthly for a year?".

But honestly, I do think both the vicar and governors are likely to judge attendance positively if the applicant has genuinely been seen a fair bit for a long time. As I said, we only get a couple of applications a year and most are from people who could not be described as regular church goers by any criteria, who are understandably just desperate to get their kids into their prefered school. One sites the regular church attendance of a grandparent as the soul basis for applying on those grounds, parents and kids had never set foot in church!

I know it probably sounds really stupid, but I don't mind the school being influenced by the church at all, or that services will happen there, or DD going to those services. It's just that I'm a snob and don't feel like it's 'real' worship; it feels like a Sunday school, all the time. I don't mind DD going (if she gets into the school, iyswim) because I figure she can make up her own mind about what, if any, style of worship she prefers, and I can hack the occasional service at Christmas, Easter etc. It's just the idea of going every week that's filling me with dread.

At any rate, thank you for all the advice. I need to speak to the school now as I don't think I can make any decisions without doing that.

tiggytape Mon 19-Nov-12 18:57:11

Each faith school is allowed to state how they define their faith criteria.
Some just say you have to be baptised. Some say baptism and regular church attendance for X number of years. Some say 2 or 3 named churches get priority and others state worshipping at just one particular church gets preference.

As long as they publish those criteria, and as long as they apply them fairly to every single applicant, then this is allowed.

So if OP's school is one that names a particular church as having priority for admission, and if all the places at school are taken by the 30 or 60 children who worship at that named church, then OP would either need to go to the church as regularly as required to fufill the criteria or risk not getting in and go to her local non-faith school instead.

You don't have to fake anything - you just have to turn up. And it isn't 11 years - you can stop going the day you get in but if the school has such an affinity to that church, it is likely every Harvest Festival, Nativity, end of term service, Easter and Mother's Day will be held there or conducted by the vicar from there. If the church's style is uncomfortable for you once a week, it may be worth checking how much it influences daily life at the school.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Mon 19-Nov-12 18:38:28

That just seems so wrong!!

If you are attending CofE and in the catchment then that should be enough...surely people have the right to decide which style of worship they prefer??

Nuts. The whole thing!

It's the worship style FairPhyllis. I think what I SHOULD do is suck it up and go. I'm just too selfish and can't bear the thought!

I think I'm going to phone the school and find out what their actual admissions look like as I guess they could be quite different to what they publish as their criteria. DD is only 14 months so it's not totally urgent but I am a worrier!

crazymum53 Mon 19-Nov-12 18:20:48

If the school is oversubscribed then they should publish clearly the no. of children admitted in each category every year.
Usually church attendance is verified by the priest or vicar of the church that you attend using a supplementary form. If you have attended more than one church in the qualifying period then the vicars of both churches may be asked.
You do not say how old your ds is, but if he is close to school age a reference from the church you used to attend before you moved may be needed.
HTH

prh47bridge Mon 19-Nov-12 18:11:18

birdofthenorth - If your school is doing as you say I would strongly recommend consulting with someone who understands the Admissions Code and sorting out your admissions procedures. As described they are unacceptable.

You may not have "hidden criteria". You must use only your published criteria. If you have not published what you mean by "regular attender" your admission policy is deficient. Having hidden criteria is a clear breach of the Admissions Code paragraphs 1.9(a) and 1.37.

A verbal reference from the vicar and a majority vote of eligible governors is not an acceptable way to determine someones regularity of attendance. The church must document it properly and parents should provide a letter from the vicar confirming attendance. You may think this would look calculated but it is the only fair approach. Paragraph 1.8 of the Admissions Code says that your admission criteria must be objective and procedurally fair. Having a vote on whether or not someone is a regular church attender is neither objective nor fair.

If someone chooses to refer you to the Schools Adjudicator over these practises the Adjudicator will tell you to mend your ways.

birdofthenorth Mon 19-Nov-12 17:44:00

PS at our school, the regularity of attendance is determined by a reference from the vicar (usually verbal at the admissions meeting) and a majority vote of elligible foundation governors. Which, I'm my experience, means attending twice a month for over a year is wise, as sometimes people who go weekly underestimate how often and how long you've been. I suppose you could document it, but that probably would look a bit calculated!

I would check the admissions policy as it should say how they measure church attendence. It does vary between schools - for the secondary it was being on the electoral roll.

If it isn't clear then ring the school and ask. It could be that the monthly BCP would be an option you can still attend the cathedral.

birdofthenorth Mon 19-Nov-12 17:36:42

I am Chair of Governors at a Popular CofE school. You may be surprised to hear that of about 60 applications per year (small school, intake of 20), only 2 or 3 are usually made under the church-going criteria (of which I can only remember me being granted in the few years I've been doing this, as the hidden criteria is "attended main Sunday service of named church a minumn of once a month for at least a year before the date of application" which normally is not the case- often they have come weekly for a few weeks before application, or have been at Xmas and Easter for yonks).

Their admissions policy should be on your local authority website.

Ours is

1) kids in care
2) kids whose SEN or medical needs can only be met by the school
3) kids who have a sibling in school already
4) regular attenders at our church
5) Kids who live in the parish
6) kids who live nearest school as the crow flies
7) regular attenders at other churches for whom our's is the nearest church school

In reality, most years the line is drawn half way through category 5, so about half the applicants who live in the parish get in, based on nearest first.

So, of you're desperate to get in but not very near, the fact you fit into category 7 wouldn't help you very much. Which leaves chancing it on distance and luck, or going to the school's church some of the time until your first DC is offered a place (not for 11 years- you can worship where you want once you've got that offer letter, and most do --usually nowhere--).

FairPhyllis Mon 19-Nov-12 17:35:28

Is it just the worship style you don't like, or is it the theology? Because I might be able to suck up a different worship style for a bit (think of it as a project in ecumenism) but if I had problems with the theology of the leadership of the church I don't think I'd be able to attend regularly. And that would probably filter through to not being happy with religious instruction in the school anyway.

Hm, I'm not sure about weekday services-that's a really good idea. I have Wednesdays off so that would be ideal. Will investigate!

suburbandream Mon 19-Nov-12 17:26:54

We used to go to a CofE school - luckily we got in even though we didn't attend that church (we went to another nearby). We went a couple of times to the school's church services on a Sunday but they were dreadful - children running up and down the aisle, parents not interested (clearly only there for the school place) etc. Could you go to a different service at that church at another time? One of the school mums felt the same as me but she used to go to a service on a Tuesday afternoon which she said was lovely.

Katisha Mon 19-Nov-12 17:21:58

Is going to the sane service once a month enough? You need to find out.

Do you think if we go once a month and talk loudly about how much we love the cathedral so it's clear we're church-goers that would be enough?! I'd love to just ask the vicar but I don't think being that open about 'how to get my child into your school' is the done thing!

I agree, it is a pretty shady policy.

I guess it's not really for 11 years, but I'd feel bad going until she's in and then stopping...

They have one service a month which is book of common prayer and lovely, plus a service early each Sunday that is supposed to be more traditional but actually still involves songs with actions rather than hymns etc. I just can't be doing with shaking my bum and singing that even though it's wobbly, Jesus still loves me. If it makes other people happy that's great, but I can't do it!

BloooCowWonders Mon 19-Nov-12 14:54:12

Is there a choice of services at the church? Our has min 3 each Sunday, and there's one I avoid like the plague for its happy- clappiness. But the early services are completely different.

mam29 Mon 19-Nov-12 14:15:14

last year I sat through a 90min school mass where preist in his 80s went on and on about god bless the little people I thourght it was going to go on forever.

The things we do for our kids eh.

mam29 Mon 19-Nov-12 14:13:40

Blimey that sounds really shifty shadey policy.

children of faith baptised and live within parish and you attend another church should be enough to put at top.

Adding an extra layer of faith from an outsider makes the chucrh seem dodgy almost using the school admissions to bribe people to attend that particular church sounds quite wrong.

I admit im fairly laid back coe my kids are baptised and im contemplating going more regularly next year year 3 for eldest as have 2smaller children and hubby who works weekends.

So going twice a month puts me in group 2 for coe seniors.
no guarantees though if the other 200 parents went every week.

Lol at APMF. faking it or more overexagerrating its one of few options I have locally.

I dont like what my mum would describe as happy clappy give me a traditional service anyday.

CecilyP Mon 19-Nov-12 12:41:54

From your OP, I am not sure why you think it is for 11 years. Once your child is in the school, no further church attendance is required. What age is your DC? You need to find out how many years of church attendance are required. Also you need to find out (in a typical year) how many children were admitted whose parents attend the parish church and how many attend other CofE churches and take it from there.

DH is an agnostic who comes to church sometimes, doesn't mind it but doesn't love it. He feels similarly turned off by the church in question.

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