So we did not get DS1 into any of the Catholic Boys Secondaries, and the reason was the baptism criteria. This will also be the case for ds2

(168 Posts)

The schools did not take into account our explanations for not baptizing ds1 within the first 6 months. (Which was my dads stroke and helping mum coping and getting dad on his road to recovery was more important to me than a baptism at the time - we organized a blessing for ds1, one which is used for a child that will be baptized, so a stop gap thing sort of)

We are ok for schools for now, as ds1 has accepted an offer to an independent.

But what about ds2?

No matter how often we go to Church, and observe holy days of Obligation, he was also not baptized until it was convenient to get the family together, while visiting my home town. It will mean that there is no point even trying, as this is so important.

And do I even want to send my precious children to schools that have no empathy for people who struggle? I seriously thought we had heaps of compassionate grounds, and our priest said so in his reference, that there were compassionate reasons to accept our son. But no.

Maybe this thread should be in Aibu or Religion / Philosopy but it has made me really question our options and life choices, and whether spending 30 k a year for education for both boys is going to be worth it.

edam Sun 17-Mar-13 09:36:05

It's rubbish, isn't it? YY, I get that they probably have lots of applications but that is really mean. Not the first time Catholic authorities have been harsh and unreasonable, though... the church does have a track record here. Although at least you have the ability to pay for private school.

(You'd drag my son to Catholic school over my dead body, but I sympathise with you on the unfairness).

23balloons Sun 17-Mar-13 09:39:01

That is tough. Can you appeal? Not all RC secondaries use baptism date though but obviously distance is taken into account. Near us you have 2schools not using that criteria,one is outstanding & very over subscribed, the other
not so good & you can get in with limited church attendance.

Is there no other state option? If not it looks like you will either need to pay or move house?

I would try appealing if it were me. I remember reading a few Adjudicator decisions about baptism date - it might be worth reading their findings for some ideas?

Rainbowinthesky Sun 17-Mar-13 09:40:40

The trouble is all the other people who didn't get their son baptised within the time criteria will all have their own reasons too. There has to be a measurable criteria to select by. I know several people in your situation who all have equally valid reasons for not baptising in time but they can't all get in.

prh47bridge Sun 17-Mar-13 09:42:16

You could, of course, try appealing for a place at the Catholic schools. Given the backing of your priest you would have a reasonable chance of success, particularly if he is the priest for the parish with which the appeal school is associated.

Rainbowinthesky Sun 17-Mar-13 09:42:23

You do have to also ask yourself if you really want a catholic education. We played the game for ds but aren't for dd as other things have taken over and it's not so important to me now.

I dont think there is a point in appealing. It is the CVMS, which is our top choice and only one bus ride away, it is heavily oversubscribed. Gunnersbury is playing the distance card, as we are 5 miles away, and the furthers child last year was just 3 miles away.

The state option we have been given is 45 minutes away by bus, and for reasons of bullying and assaults not an option.

It is complicated. My son has spent his primary years badly bullied, or excluded by the kids in his class. I cannot send him to a school which is well known for bullying, and where kids are assaulted on the bus stop. My heart would break daily.

I guess if there are limited places then they are going to have to get strict about applying their criteria. Perhaps there were already too many pupils who met the full criteria.

I thought I wanted a Catholic education, at the very least a Christian Ethos, or any good ethos, IYSWIM.

23balloons Sun 17-Mar-13 10:12:19

I still think it would be worth appealing especially if the school you have been offered would cause those problems for him. Are any of his friends going to your preferred Catholic school?
Last year a parent at my son's school made an appeal for her step son, baptised late baptism etc (not CV) due to the fact mother didn't want Catholic school, wanted grammar, boy didn't get grammar so father (recently convert to rc ) & step mother appealed. Long story but they did get the step son in on appeal. If you can stand the stress it might be worth it. Is there a sibling policy for ds2 though?

There is a sibling policy, just not sure I can handle the stress.... sad

23balloons Sun 17-Mar-13 11:40:00

If it was me I would do it. You sound like you have a case. Do you need to register by a certain time? Even if you are not sure you could register an appeal and if you feel you can't do it you can call the school and cancel. At least then you will have the chance,if you don't register you won't have the choice.

Sometimes in life you just have to fight for what you want. Of course I don't know your personal commitments but it would definitely be worth it if you won and it does sound like you have a case. I think there are lots of past threads with great advice about appealing.

Good luck with whatever you decide x

notfluffy Sun 17-Mar-13 11:53:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tiggytape Sun 17-Mar-13 12:02:31

Many popular Catholic schools use baptism by 6 months as an admissions criteria simply because they are swamped with genuine Catholic applicants and have to find a way of choosing between them.
I don't think it is lack of compassion, more that they are genuinely stuck on how to select from all of the Catholic applicants who want a place. Other Catholic schools not requiring early baptism tend to be the ones who have less Catholic applicants than places or at least not so many applicants overall.

As others have said, the appeal process exists so that you can explain why you did not meet this criteria for good reason. There may be others appealing on similar grounds - where ill health or family problems prevented early baptism.

If anything - and not wishing to sound cold hearted here - you are more likely to win an appeal on this basis for DS1 (where provable illness was involved) than for DS2 where it was more logistical issues. DS2 would then be in a better position due to the sibling link.

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 12:41:51

pure You have my sympathy. It might be worth looking into this more closely. A lot of Catholics coming from overseas come from countries where it is not the practise to baptise early, I think Poland is one, and of course Gunnersbury's catchment has a large Polish community. The Diocese argued that the increase in the need for school places amongst the Polish community in Ealing was going to result in Richmond parents no longer being able to access out of borough Catholic Schools to justify the creation of St RR, but that doesn't work if the Polish community can't access the schools because they didn't get baptised in time! If Gunnersbury are being flexible on the rule but Cardinal Vaughan are not might that be grounds for appeal?

Personally though I have no problem with providing schools for people seeking a Catholic education for religious or cultural reasons I do not agree with faith based criteria because it makes hypocrites of parents and unintentionally discriminates against parents who do not have the resources to meet the criteria. I am sorry that you are one of the latter. Ironically we have two DDs baptised before six months to please the grandparents and DH could have taken them along to church to meet the other criteria, and the fathers who taught him claimed they could use their influence to get the DDs into a Catholic School when they were trying to persuade us that we should, but in terms of my morality at least we are definitely far less worthy of a place at a Catholic School than you. We at least went through the trauma of not getting a primary place and experiencing the financial stress of having to opt for a private education rather than compromise our moral values.

prh47bridge Sun 17-Mar-13 13:21:30

Distance and the fact that the school is oversubscribed are irrelevant for appeals. Your argument would be that the school has made a mistake by failing to treat your son as baptised Catholic. Assuming your son would have been admitted if he had been treated as baptised Catholic the only question the panel will have to consider is whether or not the school were wrong.

Timetoask Sun 17-Mar-13 13:21:43

Really? I had no idea of this rule. My dc were baptised at 12 months old because I wanted to go back to my home country...

messybedhead Sun 17-Mar-13 13:24:59

I know somebody who won an appeal for Sacred Heart who had the same circumstances as you. They did have the backing of their priest though, who IIRC attended the appeal with them.

edam Sun 17-Mar-13 13:37:47
AngelEyes46 Sun 17-Mar-13 13:42:56

I feel for you pure. My dd was baptised over a year with mitigating circumstances. She did get into the school she wanted (we applied for 2 RC - one was under 6m bap and the other a year). Like you, I had a letter from the priest and 2 doctors. I don't know if it has been said at all above but make sure that you are on the waiting lists and find out what place you are. Where I live, the waiting lists change daily and you may be able to find out from your LA what number they went down to last year. How old is DS2 - the admissions policy may change (the school that my dd is at - she was in category j when we applied - if we were applying this year - she would be category d).

edam thats a point, but this view is very very outdated, and very wrong as it fails to take the children and the vulnerable into consideration. I hope pope Francis will put the Catholic Church straight.

Copthall, I have asked DH to verify with friends and family back home in Poland when it is customary to baptize children.

In our mitigating circumstances it would be difficult to get doctors letters, as it all related to my dads stroke and not me. And the priest we spoke to at the time has not only left our parish back home he has also left Norway! I emailed the new priest asking if it was possible to verify events that far back and if he could put me in touch with his colleague but had no reply. Will see them at mass for Easter, so could ask again. Might also be able to get something in writing from the matron of the convent where he was baptized. The Church did not actually even have disabled access, so he was baptized in the convent chapel!

I did not even know about St Thomas More!

Everything would have been so much simpler if we had stayed in Britain all along, let ds1 stay at his RC primary, and not cared much about family at all.

Ds1 has not had a Catholic education throughout primary because we were away helping my parents a few years.

I know we have an independent place. But I am not sure how we can achieve the same (or even afford the same) for ds2, who is not that academic. He is doing well, he is y3, and was level 3c for maths before half term, despite this being his second school year as he joined Y2 straight from Nursery in Norway. Not sure what to do if he wont get a Faith place and not secure an independent place. We would need a serious bursary for both.

ChippyMinton Sun 17-Mar-13 15:25:47

Quint, sorry you missed out on your choices. Are you on waiting list for G?

tiggytape Sun 17-Mar-13 15:59:42

What are the non-faith state alternatives like - or is it more a case that your closest schools geographically are faith schools so you don't qualify for any community schools on distance?

In terms of evidence for appeal, whilst it would be wonderful to have a stack of medical notes and the personal support of the priest from that time, the appeal panel can use their common sense too.
If you tell them the dates of the family illness (with any supporting evidence however small), it would be perfectly logical that, given your son's DOB (which you can also prove), the situation at the time was such that baptism was unavoidably delayed.

The reason I think you should really go for an appeal is that the delay in baptism for DS1 has a more acceptable (as far as admissions are concerned) reason behind it than the delay for DS2. With DS2 it was more a choice and logistics whereas for DS 1 it was beyond your control.
It is possible the school may drop or amend the criteria but, if they don't, it is less likely you'd win an appeal for unfair consideration of baptism dates for DS2 than for DS1.
You have nothing to lose by appealing (except possibly losing a term's fees at the independent if you win the appeal and cancel your place at the last minute) and people do win this type of appeal where they can show that the delay to baptism was due to illness in the family.

No Tiggy, we have some failing (and one up and coming but not very welcoming to children of a Faith background) state comprehensives locally.

I agree that we have greater grounds for appeal with DS1 than with DS2, as it was purely the convenience of having a baptism at Christmas when we were visiting my parents. We could have made a trip especially, but it would have cost extra £500-600 in tickets. And we could have done it in London with no family and no Godparents present. Had we known how important this was for school, we might have done differently. hmm The concept of Faith schools is alien in both Norway and Poland!

tiggytape Sun 17-Mar-13 17:08:21

It is quite unusual here too PQ. Relatively few Catholic schools have a baptism date requirement - only the really popular ones who use it to sort the Catholic applicants into more manageable admission categories.
There is a school near us that used to have a cut-off date for first Holy Communion too - but that was challenged and eventually changed to just having taken First Holy Communion before applying rather than by a set age.

I know one friend had a similar problem to you and had to get a priest's letter from her own country to explain the late baptism (and then pay to have it translated in a way that was acceptable to the admissions people). Her DS got accepted in the first allocations as they were able to convince the admissions authority to treat them as if the baptism had taken place before 6 months on the basis of special circumstances like yours. They would definitely have appealed otherwise so I do think it is worth giving it a try.

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