Comments for en-gb 30 Sat 20 Sep 2014 04:56:13 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at littleFluffyFi Sid (36), oh yes I agree with that statement. My son's infant school is CofE and the religious element is more subtle than the it would be at RC schools. However, that said it is still an element of the school's teaching and ethos and in order to secure a place (outside of the immediate catchment area), your chances will be vastly increased if you attend the linked church. That is what I have an issue with. Chris (38), you raise a valid point but I should stress that I am personally against the idea of ANY faith school. To me, religion and education are two competely and utterly seperate areas. Religion is a set of beliefs which are either instilled in you from birth by your parents/guardians or that you, as an individual, choose to follow. Whereas education on the other hand is a fundamental right for all children - regardless of race or religion. I chose the CofE infant school for my son purely because it is a small nurturing school in a lovely environment with good outdoor space and highly enthusiastic staff. My son is an August baby and is incredibly active but with not the greatest level of attention. Therefore I felt that being in a school of only 60 pupils he would receive more care and attention than in a school of say 300. I cannot say how he would have turned out if he had attended the local primary school but I can say that he has come on leaps and bounds in this one. I was lucky that he joined in a low birth year, and the same year that the school received permission to build an additional classroom. If he had been due to start the year after and I had applied with the same criteria (being virtually at the bottom of the list of admissions criteria), he would not have got in - whereas if I was a regular church goer then he would. That is what I take issue with - to go back to SSC's point way back at 1 - we shouldnt have to choose our schools. They should all be of the same standard so that we can have faith and trust in our local school. However that is sadly not the case and it is my own personal opinion at least, that one child should not have less of a chance getting into a school than the child next door just because their parents go to church, run church coffee mornings, sing in the choir etc etc. Wed 05 Nov 2008 08:46:55 GMT+1 Chris Ghoti Perhaps the faith schools have come to be seen as 'superior' precisely because they *have* been quietly selecting their pupils a bit, and not accepting ones they didn't want? This might well have been not merely little atheists, but little horrors who were likely to be utterly disruptive. Very unfair on the disruptive or the atheists, but might just possibly have been pleasant for the pupils who were able to get on with the job, and reassuring for the parents.I have to say that the (now-State, previously CoE) primary school up the road from me, at which my three children were educated in the early stages of their careers, was and is a 'church' school, affiliated to one of the nearby CoE churches and sharing part of its name (the church now has two lots of patron saint because it was amalgamated with another a few decades back and one of the church buildings turned into flats and offices); at no time was I ever asked whether I was a Christian or even whether the children had been baptised, and they shared the classrooms and playground with children from a wide variety of backgrounds and religions, including small Sikhs who looked very charming in their six-year-old superiority of turbans. Nobody ever seemed to object to a 'hymn sandwich' each day, nor to a crib at Christmas or eggs and bunnies at Easter.It's a horrid thing to wonder, but I can't help feeling that some at least of the anti-faith-school business that seems to be going on may be because one cannot oppose the foundation of Muslim schools and not oppose Christian ones at the same time, because that would be *bad naughty racist* -- so those opposed for whatever reason to Islamic faith schools are obliged to be opposed to any school of any faith, though they are in fact perfectly happy about Christian schools that have been around for a hundred years or so. And there are so many more Christian-based faith schools in this country that they are a much larger and easier target. Tue 04 Nov 2008 21:18:43 GMT+1 RJMolesworth It is interesting that faith schools are now considered superior to state schools. 40 years ago it was the other way around. Is it just a fashion or did they full their finger out? Tue 04 Nov 2008 20:29:24 GMT+1 Sid Many C of E primary schools are not very 'religious' - certainly not 'evangelical'. You get harvest festival and a nativity play at Christmas - but that's not the same as prayers at every break time, mass on Fridays etc that you find in some RC schools. Tue 04 Nov 2008 17:26:39 GMT+1 David_McNickle SSC 32, Mixed-sect family, exacerbate? Watch your language. This is a family forum!Russll Brand is performing a rather filthy act in Los Angeles, so to speak. Tue 04 Nov 2008 17:16:49 GMT+1 David_McNickle Perky 28, All three of our daughters went to a C of E school until senior school and they are all normal. Well, as normal as us, and we are Lib Dem members. Tue 04 Nov 2008 17:12:12 GMT+1 littleFluffyFi SSC (32) Absolutely!!! By all means teach about religious awareness - i.e. what religion is, what does it mean, examples of different religions etc. that way children have some sense of awareness of what its about so that when they are old enough to make up their own minds and make their own choices - then they can decide which path to follow. But forcing a set of beliefs on our innocent offspring from parents who have had their beliefs forced on me its just plain wrong! Schools are for educating our children - teaching them facts, knowledge, moulding them into well rounded people.......... practising a set of intangible beliefs just does not fit into that remit as far as I am concerned. Tue 04 Nov 2008 15:21:13 GMT+1 The Stainless Steel Cat Littlefluffyfi (31):Fair enough, but you have to be careful about judgements of "good" and "bad" schools. There was an outcry amongst parents in my area when they were told that the local comp (bad reputation in what was generally acknowledged to be a scummy part of the area) was announced to be nearer than the posher, uniformed High School in the nicer end of the area. Myself and my classmates went to the comp despite the protests.Within three years, the parents were breathing a sigh of relief at where their children had gone, because the High School had plummeted downhill and had a major drug and knife-crime problem while the comp couldn't be described as anything other than "rough".I completely agree with you about faith schools. Coming as I do from a mixed-sect family in the West of Scotland* I daily see the problems caused by teaching religion in school.* Recently there's been publicity about a town near here called Larkhall where shops have to change the colours of the logos that they use everywhere else because many of the population will react violently against certain colours. In Larkhall it's green that sends the locals into a rage, in other parts of the city it's blue or orange. I feel faith schools do nothing but exacerbate this barbaric nonsense. Tue 04 Nov 2008 14:12:11 GMT+1 littleFluffyFi SSC (1) "If the school isn't good enough for the parents, then it's up to them help to change the school, or home-school" With all due respect Cat, that is much easier said than done. I am guilty of ignoring the obvious choice of the school which is within 5 mins walk from our house for my children in favour of one that is 5 mins drive away. I wish I didn't have to make this choice but I do - the school near me has a pretty bad reputation in both its standard of education and behaviour of its pupils. I would love for them to go there but ONLY if it was vastly improved and sadly I have neither the time (as I currently work - not through choice but through financial necessity), to get involved nor the skill set to home school my kids. So whilst I agree in principal with what you say - if we lived in an ideal world, but unfortunately we do not. However, that said I wish it were the case that we could do away with this system of preferences and all its inherent flaws and instead simply send our children to the nearest school safe in the knowledge that all schools are of the same standard............ if only!I am completely against the idea of faith schools. To me education and religious belief are two completely seperate things. Why should some children receive a better education simply because their parents are Catholic, or they attend a certain church regularly. Nearby the school I mentioned above (and the next school for me in terms of catchment) is a Catholic primary school which is miles ahead in terms of standard of education and facilities etc and is no more than 6 minutes walk from my house. Yet I would have no chance of getting my children in there because of my religious status. IanCEdmond (26) summed that up quite nicely for me..Perky - I totally agree with you. I feel endlessly frustrated with the admissions system and the obvious bias and backdoor selection that goes on (happytalkradiofan has confirmed that). My son currently attends a lovely little infant school which generally I have been very happy with, in terms of his education, but have been extremely unhappy with in terms of the obvious bias that is shown towards parents who participate in the PTFA, who sit on the Governers' board, who volunteer for anything that is requested. I wish I had the luxury of the time to be able to do all of those things but because I work and do not I feel without question that my son is at a disadvantage.A very topical subject for me as I have just recently submitted applications for both my children for next Sept (one for Junior school and one for Reception). However, am hoping this will be an unused Plan B. As some are aware we are planning to relocate to France in March (initially for 6 months) - so all being well we will not need the places offered. Ironically I have spent hours looking at Ofsted reports for our local schools, visiting them, reading the brochures etc - whereas for France all I have done is put my childrens' names down to attend the local (secular) village school 2 mins walk from the house we are renting. I asked the owner what she thought of it and that was good enough for me! Tue 04 Nov 2008 12:04:59 GMT+1 Big Sister Sid: C'mon now, we leave the pedant stuff to ValP. ;o) Tue 04 Nov 2008 11:17:48 GMT+1 David_McNickle C_G 20, And that was just in the summer.Quick! Look at the new Ottum photos before they become amalgimated. Tue 04 Nov 2008 10:48:49 GMT+1 Perky It's my experience that a good, desirable faith school creates hypocrites and divides parents and children. I base this on having lived in an area where four state comprehensive schools were available, two of which were faith schools. One of these had a complex "points" system for its admissions. Points were awarded for a variety of things, including church attendance, running community groups such as brownies and cubs, the children themselves doing voluntary work and parents being school governors etc. Whilst I have no problem with dedicated Christians applying for their children to attend this school I was appalled by the largely middle-class parents who went to church although they had no belief whatsoever in order to get their children into the school and who then stopped going the minute the letter came through the door. Junior school governor places were fiercely contested, but there was a trend for winning candidates to be only marginally involved in the school once they knew they had secured their points.I appreciate that by putting this system in place, the school got more people into church and probably kept some community groups going that otherwise may have folded; but cash-poor and time-poor families had little hope of achieving the right number of points, no matter what their faith. A large number of parents were prepared to put their principals on hold in order to get the right school for their child, whilst many others were not - causing a divide in junior school playgrounds for several years before their children moved to senior school - because church attendance and other church-related work was expected for at least 2 years before the application was made.I'm glad I left the area before I had to contend with splitting my child up from all her friends whose parents were either committed Christians or playing the system - and this in an area where all four schools were of a better standard than the comprehensive I attended. Tue 04 Nov 2008 09:42:05 GMT+1 Sid OFSTEAD? What does the extra A stand for? Mon 03 Nov 2008 22:53:29 GMT+1 IanCEdmond Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that I am a socialist. If I were to tell my children from birth that, consequently, they were socialists too, you would probably think that I was a bit out of order. But perhaps you would hold your tongue – after all, isn’t it for parents to decide how to bring up their children?Let us now suppose that I decided to bandy together with my socialist friends and set up a school. It would be run along socialist lines. As well as a standard curriculum, the children’s lives would be enriched by socialist history and doctrine. They are, after all, socialists, because we, their parents, are. By this point, I would suspect that most independent observers would be deeply suspicious of my stance, and many would think it a very unfair way to treat the children involved.But as a final cinching blow, I would like to ask the state not only to accept my socialist school, but also to pay for it – for its teachers, text books, running costs. Do you think that there would be anyone left who would stand up and defend such a proposition?Yet we accept it all the time. And not even based on a political ideology, which would be bad enough, but on one based on superstition and no evidence whatsoever.This, a_fine_summer, is the problem that many of us have with faith schools. Jealousy? Not at all. It is the simple iniquity of the situation. Mon 03 Nov 2008 22:27:09 GMT+1 a_fine_summer The two speakers on the program said they saw no evidence of faith schools selecting better pupils on the sly. Lets hope this will stop the mean spirited jealous anti faith school squad repeating such claims.Is it a coincidence that the anti squad became more vociferous when school league tables appeared and guess what? Faith schools came out so well. Can't be anything else but envy. Peculiar how faith schools do so well when religion is supposed to make we believers stupid and candidates for mental health institutions.This argument about free school meals being a sly selection indicator is a no goer. Faith schools take their pupils from a much wider area than the rest resulting in a greater social mix. A direct comparison is not possible. Divisive? No. look at your OFSTEAD reports to see faith schools have a greater racial/ethnic mix. And while we're at it please stop the funded by taxes argument. The parents of church school children pay their taxes too. Plus the schools are not fully funded so you get your next batch of doctors, plumbers etc at a discount. It's a good deal for you. Don't complain. Mon 03 Nov 2008 21:50:31 GMT+1 RJMolesworth “Stemming corruption requires strong oversight through parliaments, law enforcement, independent media and a vibrant civil society,” said Labelle. “When these institutions are weak, corruption spirals out of control with horrendous consequences for ordinary people, and for justice and equality in societies more broadly.” We could fix it but we don't really want to - not enough. Mon 03 Nov 2008 21:21:52 GMT+1 oldreigation I seem to remember a friend telling me some years ago that the Blair children, even before their move to Downing St, and those of another cabinet minister, both living in North London, attended a faith school in Kensington whilst it was unfortunately "full" for some of those would-be pupils who lived nearby. Ah - probably my memory..... Mon 03 Nov 2008 20:19:40 GMT+1 mittfh I'm sure I mentioned this in an earlier thread, but I can't find it...I work for a local authority, in the same building as the Admissions team. Every year, they publish 40-50 page glossy covered A4 sized booklets (A3 when laid flat) for five geographic areas of the county (7,000-8,000 in total). Each booklet contains details of all the secondary schools in the area (including adverts for each school), admissions requirements, exam results etc.There's also the admissions form itself, where parents list a number of schools in order of preference.It's fairly probable that in a large number of homes, the main booklet will head straight into the recycling box, as the parents will already know which school(s) they do/do not wish their child to attend.A related issue is the socio-economic background of the family. Children from families from lower socio-economic backgrounds are far more likely to attend the nearest school than children from higher socio-economic backgrounds. Is it any surprise that many schools with a lower socio-economic catchment have lower results? There are some that buck the trend, but IIRC the correlation is still fairly high. Mon 03 Nov 2008 19:34:49 GMT+1 happytalkradiofan My middle class priviledged children, (lots of books in the house, no bedroom tvs) go to an excellent surrey state school. It is an open secret that it is a backdoor selective school, and I know this as my children who live at a good fair distance were 'selected in'. My inate socialism is offended. My desire to do the best for the children overides it. Mon 03 Nov 2008 18:41:53 GMT+1 Chris Ghoti DMcN, I know, I know -- and uphill both ways. Mon 03 Nov 2008 18:37:11 GMT+1 Ventnorian I live in a town where the County Council has decided to shut our three primary schools and our Middle School (lower secondary 9-13) school and replace them with one 4-11 primary school. Whilst we are angry at the loss our middle school which is judged good by Ofsted, what is really extraordinary is that the new school is to be an Anglican / Roman Catholic "joint faith" voluntary aided school with no alternative provision. All our protests have fallen on deaf ears and it is clear that the Diocese and the Local Authority have agreed what they want to do and have steered their so called consultation in that direction. The information provided to parents has been completely inadequate and with little time to respond. We are sure this breaches the Government's statutory guidelines on consultation. We are also appalled that the proposal means a reduction in choice and diversity again in breach of the Government’s guidelines. Having heard Sir Philip Hunter speak on PM, I now have absolutely no confidence in the schools adjudicator to help sort this out. We feel completely abandoned. Mon 03 Nov 2008 18:20:52 GMT+1 IanCEdmond It comes as no surprise to me that a disproportionate number of the breaches of the rules have come from faith schools. We have removed the ability of state schools to select by academic achievement, and are now moving to ensure that schools cannot select, even indirectly, by the wealth of the families of their potential intake. Why, then, are some schools still able to run discriminatory admission policies, based around the unprovable supernatural beliefs of parents? This is a bizarre enough situation in general, but the fact that it is permitted for schools which receive the vast majority of their funding from taxation is a national scandal. Mon 03 Nov 2008 18:03:25 GMT+1 greenJohnHill Your guest suggested that schools weren't aware of their obligations, in spite of the fact that every page contained "must do" obligations printed in red. Anyway, how come the principal of being unaware of the law is no excuse does not apply to them? Mon 03 Nov 2008 18:02:03 GMT+1 David_McNickle iL 14, Because somebody already did. Mon 03 Nov 2008 17:57:01 GMT+1 David_McNickle C_G 11, Me, my brother, and two sisters all walked to school or took a bus from kindergarden through year twelve. Sometimes through several feet of snow. Mon 03 Nov 2008 17:55:56 GMT+1 invisibleLory Why not call Nil's section "Nil By Mouth"? Mon 03 Nov 2008 17:48:16 GMT+1 scienceoldstager I worked in schools in Scotland for over 30 years and I am aware that things are a great deal different from the English situation but I am certain that the people involved in management will be of a similar disposition. So with some certainty I say that there is no underhanded trick that they will not stoop to. They will of course be totally innocent of any wrongdoing, just a misunderstanding! In passing, I worked in a "faith school". They are devisive without doubt. Mon 03 Nov 2008 17:45:27 GMT+1 unwards If you're looking for evidence of deliberate law-breaking over admissions policy, try the Local Ombudsman's office.We had to take our local Education Authority to the Ombusman twice over their breaking the law on Special Needs admissions.The first time they were told to change their policy so that SN admissions were dealt with by the 15th February, as the law states. This they did, but simultaneously brought forward non-SN admissions to an earlier date, thus breaking the law and allowing schools to refuse entry to SN children as they no longer had places for them.The second time the Ombudsman told the LEA to comply with the law as the new system had been, even according to the LEA spokesperson, "designed to get around the law". A week after the decision was made the LEA contacted the Ombudsman, telling her to retract her decision as complying with the law would cause them inconvenience! The Ombudsman was so offended by this that she contacted us to inform us and to ask us to contact her immediately if there were any further breaches.It's not only schools who break the admissions laws for their own benefit. Mon 03 Nov 2008 17:44:45 GMT+1 Chris Ghoti SSC @ 4, my three walked to school. Because there is a four year age-gap in each case, the only point at which they were not going to roughly the same building was when the youngest was still at the very-nearby primary at age 4, while her 8-year-old sister was at the junior school and her 12-year-old brother was at the senior school, which were about a mile away.When she left the primary and started to go to the junior at age five, the three went to school together. Each bit of the school ended the day randomly at different times, and so I tended to collect at least the youngest unless one of the others happened to finish at the right time for them to walk home together. If I wasn't collecting her on foot, I'd be on the way home from further afield, and I'd park away from the school gates and walk in a bit. I did this because the road where the school gates were was always chock-full of incompetent women in topple-wagons who had no idea how wide the beastly things were and therefore got stuck all the time and blocked the road by being unable to take their toad-mobiles through gaps I could have taken a small tank through with a foot clear each side.Bah, in fact.The only child at that school who was put into danger on the way to school during the couple of decades I had to do with the place, was the one who got out of his mummy's car, ran across the road and ended up in a coma because he was hit by a mother who was delivering her daughter to the school in a hurry.And yet, each term, I got a form-letter sent home with each of my children, requiring me to sign it to confirm that yes, s/he walked to school and yes, I did consent to this and accept responsibility for it! I took to sending them back with 'see your files!' written on the back of each. Mon 03 Nov 2008 17:41:40 GMT+1 riffler If Faith schools break the rules more often than proper schools, but only through "innocent mistakes", does that mean that the average faith school head is more stupid than the average proper school head? Which would simply confirm what we already know - religion makes you stupid.It's not difficult to join the dots here - schools whch break the rules, especially faith schools, take a smaller proportion of free-school-meals pupils and special needs pupils - are we really expected to believe that is a pure coincidence rather than a deliberate strategy? Either the investigator is an idiot or he thinks we are.Schools admission forms should contain a single question - how will your child travel to school - walk/cycle/other? With preference given to those who walk or cycle. Mon 03 Nov 2008 17:29:17 GMT+1 Bearded Shrimper this is something that has been going on for a long time and is not surprising. Schools have been very cunning at disguising their bending and breaking of the rules.the problem is a desire to cater to middle-class voters who are scared that poorer children will get in the way of their children's education, and to an extent they are me, this is a symptom of the problems with the schools system, not a cause.a radical and expensive LONG-TERM reform programme is what's needed, but being radical, expensive and long-term, there's not much interest Mon 03 Nov 2008 17:24:22 GMT+1 ourvoice As a parents the issue of which schools our children attended never really entered into it. We were too concerned about having to earn enough money to pay the rent/mortgage, pay the bills, and putting food on the table. Our kids went to the local state school, (round the corner). We never discussed the standard of teaching then, as there was little to compare it with. There were no league tables and silly admissions criteria, it was just the nearest state school and that was that.My kids seem to have received a decent enough education, (my son did experience some difficulty in learning to read, but we kind of put this down to him being a boy. He later caught up).I think my kids struggle came, not at the legally required level of education, but moving into higher education. So much more was expected at that stage and I don't believe they were properly prepared for it. They just want to have fun at that age don't they? Who can blame them?Anyway, both my kids have gone on to gain degrees. Both have what is known as 'good jobs' and have achieved so much more than I could ever have hoped for. Whats the problem? Mon 03 Nov 2008 17:08:14 GMT+1 David_McNickle SSC 1, We had six elementary schools in East Cleveland (a city of its own) and you went to the one nearest to you. There was only one junior high and one high school, so everybody went to them. If you wanted to go somewhere else, you paid. Mon 03 Nov 2008 16:51:09 GMT+1 justfloating (4) SSC - You mean you walked through a community. I had to fields and lanes to wander down. On rainy nights I had to refuse lifts offered by strangers!The issue of numbers and allocations is only because we run our schools at the absolute limit. Give you an example. The heating system in a school is sized so that on the coldest day with sensible precautions the classroom temperature will be adequate. However, it is rarely used at that heating output. But when we allocate teachers and rooms we set only a maximum figure and work to that as an indication of normality.So why the difference. Because engineers design buildings and politicians design schools.The optimum size and the absolute limit should be quite different especially when the option of multiple staff are used per class room. It is not like our children do not need a little extra help in certain places. With the lead time on housing projects and children you would have thought it would al be planned years earlier.Oh did I say that word "planned", I do apologise I know its something beyond councils ability. They would rather sit on "judgement panels" and blame the parents than actually admit they squandered all the section 106 money. Mon 03 Nov 2008 16:46:40 GMT+1 Fifi Cat (4): As the line of traffic I was in edged cautiously around the school bus parked outside the school door, tonight ... and tried to work out which if any of the students not looking at the traffic were going to use the zebra crossing ... I was glared at by an SUV-driving mum who had parked right across the road from the bus to pick up her children, making the road even narrower.Both the SUV and the bus had stopped on the zig-zags. Mon 03 Nov 2008 16:30:16 GMT+1 The Stainless Steel Cat Chris (3):I suppose so... though I have to say I'm not a fan of children being taken to school, certainly not past around 7yo, so I'm not totally convinced by that part of the argument.(Before the howls of "but it's not safe!" come up from enraged parents, my classmates and I walked a mile and a half through one of the classic Glasgow housing schemes to get to school at 7yo, and yes, that was over 30 years ago, but I bet most areas, certainly middle-class ones where SUV-mums are likely to be driving around, are even today safer than that area was then - and it was fine then.) Mon 03 Nov 2008 15:31:26 GMT+1 Chris Ghoti SSC @ 1, only one proviso: if there are say three children, of whom the two elder ones are at one school, the third perhaps ought to have priority for that school (if the parents don't feel that the child would be better of not 'in the shadow' of an elder who dumps on it) in order not to increase the amount of travelling around to get different children to different schools at the same time of day if for no other reason. Mon 03 Nov 2008 15:10:24 GMT+1 Fifi I am a lay member of Admission Appeals panels for my county. As such, I only see a cross-section of the Appeals that arise so it's hard for me to generalise.But I do see a lot of stressed-out parents fighting to get their children into what they believe to be the only suitable school for them. It's sometimes hard to understand how we arrived at the admissions system we have now. Every year, whole weeks are devoted to appeals for certain very popular schools - and as the panel members are volunteers, that's a lot of unpaid time which is not reflected in the costs in this Report. Infant Class Size restrictions make it particularly difficult for parents to understand the point of an appeal process that seems to be weighted against their wishes. In my own experience over the past few yeras, the panels are extremely well conducted and decisions are reached appropriately on the basis of evidence submitted. However, it does seem at times that an admissions system that genuinely worked as well as we're told it does would not trigger so many appeals, every single year. Mon 03 Nov 2008 15:03:34 GMT+1 The Stainless Steel Cat Simple solution: all children go to the nearest school to where they live (the address to which child benefit gets paid, and the address at which the truant officer will look for them if they're not in school). Schools aren't allowed to turn down any children if they have spaces. (Exclusion after bad behaviour is a different matter).If that school is full, the youngest children (last in enrolment order) go to the next nearest school. The local council has to pay any extra costs incurred by the parents; it's their fault for not forecasting demand correctly and including sufficient spare capacity.If the school isn't good enough for the parents, then it's up to them help to change the school, or home-school. Mon 03 Nov 2008 14:50:18 GMT+1