My husband and I spent years planning ahead. Even before our nuptials we decided to marry in a parish church somewhere. We chose one in the catchment area of a Voluntary Aided CofE primary school (it had to be VA, they control their own admissions – unlike Voluntary Controlled schools which have to accept anyone) and bought a house there.
By the time our son was born we were well-known in church circles. We became Confirmed and took Communion once a month (at least, one of us did although I must confess we had a few arguments about whose turn it was). We took turns looking after toddlers in the crèche during services (frankly, I preferred that to sitting through interminable sermons). My husband took up bell-ringing while I joined the cleaning rota and washed the vicar’s surplice. We did this for years until the time came for us to apply for a place.
We were sure our sacrifices would pay off. Our confidence increased when the school became an academy giving it more control over its admissions.
But we were turned down! The new vicar went to Synod in 2012
. Nothing alarming in that, we thought. But alarm bells should have rung. Apparently, the vicar was reminded that a “Christian ethos” meant educating all children especially the vulnerable and the excluded.
The vicar persuaded the academy Trustees to change the school’s admission policy and give priority to pupils who attract the Pupil Premium. In our ignorance we though it meant putting “premium” pupils first, pupils with parents like us whose commitment put us in the Premier League.
But we learned to our cost this was not so. It meant the school gave priority to disadvantaged children. Now I’ve nothing against disadvantaged children as long as they know their place. And, frankly, that’s not in the same school as mine who’ve been brought up properly.
But all is not lost. We put our son into pre-prep while considering our options. We’ve discovered there’s a good RC secondary school within travelling distance. We’ve checked its Admission Criteria: the school gives points for church attendance and taking part in other church duties. All we have to do is make sure the duties have some sort of “liturgical” significance: pew polishing is out but flower arranging is in.
So we’ve an appointment to see Father Patrick tomorrow about being received into the Catholic faith. And I’ve found some beautiful gold Rosary beads on EBay.
Links to Fair Admissions Campaign here