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Church School Admissions – the unfairness of it all

17th May 2012

Are you one of the thousands of parents required to go to church in order for your child to attend your local church school? If you are not already aware of this, the vast majority of church schools are fully funded by us, the tax payer, with some required to provide as little as 10% of their overall funding.  Faith schools in general are not required to accept any children from their local catchment area and can allocate 100% of their places based on church attendance if they so wish.

My School Gate has heard countless stories of parents who live within a road or two of their local church school, but who are unable to secure a place for their child because they are not regular churchgoers.  The church is effectively *blackmailing parents across the country, demanding that they attend church services regularly in order to get a school place for their child.  Next time you drive past a congregation coming out of a Sunday morning service, check out how many parents there are with pre-school age children.  It would be interesting to know the statistics of how many of those parents were regular churchgoers before they had children, or just how far away from the school some of these parents live.  Some churches expect parents to attend a service every Sunday – a huge commitment and one which cannot be taken lightly – yet parent’s are forced to make this commitment if the local church school is their preferred choice.

Where church primary schools are concerned, can we really expect our four year olds to understand much about the faith element of the school they are attending?  What about all the four year olds who are christened or baptised but who won’t get a place at their local church school because their parents can’t or don’t take them to church on Sundays?  And for those children who are of no religion or one that has no denominational school for their religion – is it fair to exclude them? 

*In the context of this article, this term is used to describe the attempt to influence the actions of (a person) especially by unfair pressure (

Have you encountered admission problems with a church school? We would like to hear your stories.

Gove backs 50pc limit on faith school admissions

Faith Schools





18th May 2012 at 11:07 am

I’ve just learned that any new faith academies or free schools will be required to admit 50% of their pupils without reference to faith. This is intended to ensure that such shools give more priority to local children.


20th May 2012 at 12:04 pm

I can’t imagine any parent agreeing that it is acceptable to have to go to church to get a school place for your child. What has going to church got to do with a child’s education? Most of the people who go are only doing it for the school place and not in the name of religion anyway so it is totally wrong and encourages very hypocritical behaviour in my opinion.


20th May 2012 at 3:28 pm

My church school, which is one road away from me, wouldn’t even let me visit it when I was looking at schools for my son. They told me it would be a waste of time as I didn’t attend their church. Quite honestly though, after meeting some of the parents from the school, I am glad I didn’t opt for my son to go there. They are the most incredibly competive bunch and would sell their own mother to get the best for their little darlings.


20th May 2012 at 4:13 pm

I wanted to send my son to our local church school but I work weekends as I run a dance company on Saturday and Sunday mornings, so could never take him to church. He’s at the local community school which is a fair distance away and I have to go by car which is a real pain. It makes me really angry that the church can influence the schooling of an innocent child when that child has absolutely no choice in the matter.


21st May 2012 at 12:39 pm

Well, the church is effectively discriminating against children based on their parents religious beliefs (or the pretence of them). They should be ashamed of themselves and so should the government for sitting by and letting this happen. I read somewhere recently that churches were also trying to stop children from less affluent homes get into their schools by rejecting children on free school dinners.


21st May 2012 at 2:07 pm

I couldn’t agree more. It’s a complete nonsense and I’m surprised the church are so ready to accept parents into their congregations for all the wrong reasons. It makes a mockery of the church.


22nd May 2012 at 1:19 pm

It winds me up just thinking about it! I have a really nice C of E school ON MY ROAD but could I get a place for my son – NO! I have to commute to another school because I moved to my house too late to be able to attend church enough to get my son a place. All the kids in our road go to the church school (all the parents ‘did time’ on Sundays) and I feel terrible for my little boy as he is always the ‘odd one out’. He finds it hard to join in with them because they all see each other at school everyday. I’m reminded of this issue day in day out as my son hasn’t really settled at his school and I always wonder whether it would be different if he went to his local school. I think the government should take back full control of all admissions and allow children to go to their local church school based on distance, just like all the rest.


22nd May 2012 at 5:25 pm

Aren’t most of the church schools built on land owned by the church? Maybe this has a lot to do with why the government let church schools get away with so much…


23rd May 2012 at 10:31 am

I agree with what you say about some of the parents. My friend’s daughter went to our local C of E school and she is having a really hard time with the parents. There is a real group of bullies there who make her life a real misery. But that’s another story!

Maria C

3rd July 2012 at 10:17 am

Hard to believe I know, but I went into my local C of E primary school recently to request a brochure and any info they have about the school and they refused to give me one based on the fact that I don’t go to the local church. I was told it was pointless applying as they are so oversubscribed and if I didn’t attend church I wouldn’t have a chance. I live in the same road as the school. I will now have to go to a school which I need to drive to.


2nd September 2012 at 8:53 pm

It just seems incredible to me that once again, religion divides and conquers and we let them get away with it. So many parents are prepared to play this whole God game that the church will always win. I guess I understand it from the parents point of view in that they want the best for their children – who doesn’t, right? In reality though – the church are once again creating a really nasty undercurrent in society -pitching parents against each other in the hope that their child will be one of the lucky ones signed off by the local priest or vicar. My local catholic school is a real hothouse and some of the children live a miserable existance as results are everything. My nextdoor neighbour chose this school for her kids and I have seen them gradually turn into complete robots. She has told me the school is very strict, and discipline is high on the agenda, but she doesn’t seem to be able to see how desperately unhappy both her children are. They’re bright enough kids yet they’re not even doing very well academically so something is really wrong. You have to wonder if it is all worth it.


6th November 2012 at 2:50 pm

Don’t bother. Once you’re in a school then children are subjected to endless Old Testament values, over strict rules and regulations and made to feel guilty about being children. I’m taking mine out.


23rd November 2012 at 4:51 pm

We only have state education because it was started by the church. Church schools were mostly set up by generous churchgoers for ‘the poort of the parish’ and that is how it should be today.

Most church schools reflect the areas in which they are located. Many local Diocesan Boards are recommending that schools do not have faith criteria. My own CE school does not have any requirement to be a church member, a Christian, to believe in God or watch Songs of Praise.

All CofE Voluntary Controlled schools use the Local Authority criteria. Many CofE Voluntary Aided schools do admit children of Church of England and other Christian families first, but the vast majority also admit local children including children from families of other faith traditions.

As for endless Christian Values. We do that. No apology. Forgiveness, being a peacemaker, generosity, compassion, kindness, friendship, treating others as you would be treated… All our parents support this approach – Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and the vast majority of our parents and staff who come from no faith background whatsoever.

The Boss

5th March 2013 at 9:28 am

“As for endless Christian Values. We do that.”

I do not believe you. Christian values include extending a hand to those in need and in loving your neighbour as yourself. Why is it acceptable for you to refuse entry into your school for people who live next door while accepting people from further afield who play by the rules of going to church despite not believing in God? The whole system is a farce.


27th May 2013 at 1:27 am

The Boss – how do you know they don’t believe in God? It’s some sort of myth that they’re all closet atheists on the sly. And who are you to judge?

Why opt for a system that favours those who can afford the catchment area? That seems far worse….At least church attendance gives some poorer families a chance esp in London. (This is a well known statistic for immigrants attending Catholic schools in London)

A lot of these faith schools are good due to the fact that they attract a steady supply of conscientious parents , making a good school in the first place..go figure.

Another way of looking at it is how do we make all schools equally good? Changing human nature? Middle class families will always flock together , creating good schools & separating themselves from the rest through money. Take out faith as criteria and you’ll not have a fairer system, might even be less fair..


6th August 2013 at 4:19 pm

I wonder why parents that have are not religious would like for their children to attend a religious school! This is very very crazy to me.


14th October 2013 at 7:08 pm

‘I wonder why parents that have are not religious would like for their children to attend a religious school!’

Because, in my son’s case:
a) his brother already attends the school (which has only just introduced the requirement)
b) all of my son’s friends will go there
c) the school’s academic record is outstanding
d) despite the rhetoric, the school’s ethos is pretty much indistinguishable from that of non-faith schools. My older son, who professes no belief in gods of any description (a viewpoint that, according to him, is widespread amongst the pupils), says that there is very little in the way of religion, and what there is seems pretty brainless. He entertains himself in the compulsory RE lessons by asking philosophical and theological questions that christians find difficult/impossible to answer.


14th November 2013 at 3:58 pm

Lots of families move in and around and places tend to come up in year one and above…
put yr name down on the waiting list and wait..
worked for me and it was a good move. she settle really well in the middle of year one.
lots of families moved as there grew and left London!!


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