Primary School Admissions - Religion

grennersgrenners Ferme Park Road, N4
Does anyone have any experience of obtaining a place for a child at a church school, for example St Aidan's? I think the admission rules are based on distance and siblings etc etc with no mention of religion. But in practice is there an advantage in turning up to church etc and do some parents do that in order to gain an advantage in obtaining a place?


  • Church schools are free to prioritize on religious grounds; every school will publish their policy so just check it out on the at Aidan's site.
  • Doesn't seem to mention religion in the site schools are very careful as parents will appeal every year if the child doesn't get in.
  • grennersgrenners Ferme Park Road, N4
    I think all schools have to follow the Haringey admissions policy? If course reality on the ground may be different and was wondering if it was still accepted wisdom that one needed to show your face in the right places in order to get ahead?
  • I don't think it's a problem for a faith school to ask that parents show an interest in religion. If you are not religious why go to a faith school, there are plenty of schools where you will never need to concern yourself with it. Drives me mad, like moving next to a pub then complaining about noise.
  • Reality on the ground is that the appeals process is very strict so schools follow the policy to the letter. Faith schools can discriminate toward religion but they must make this clear.
  • grennersgrenners Ferme Park Road, N4
    @miss annie I'm not interested in whether it's a problem or not in just trying to work out what goes on........
  • St Aidan's is very unusual in being a VC rather than VA school so it gives no preference for church attendance and instead follows the normal Haringey admissions criteria. This is different from other church schools in Haringey like St Mary's and St Peter's in chains which do give preference to regular attenders at specific churches (and then baptised Catholics at St Peter's)
  • It isn't "accepted wisdom" etc though - there's no advantage in "showing your face". Where church attendance is given preferential treatment this is transparently set out in the admissions criteria for the school. I don't agree with allocating public services on the basis of religion, but I don't believe anything sneaky is going on.
  • grennersgrenners Ferme Park Road, N4
    It's rather complicated that school admissions differ so much. If anyone does know that parents attend church to make sure they get in I would like to know. Plenty of time yet though as my child is not 2 yet. I'm sure the other schools are good but St Aidan's is geographically the most convenient and I am perfectly happy with a c of e education. I have heard horror stories of children being sent miles away to Seven Sisters which would be a logistical daily battle so always keen to avoid that as best as possible.
  • As trainspotter says: if religious commitment is part of a school's declared admissions policy, then there has to be some way of demonstrating that - which basically means parents who are regular churchgoers and a child who has been baptised. If it isn't, as with St Aidan's, then they aren't allowed to take it into account; admissions follow a list of criteria, and you can't jump higher up the list by attending church.
  • I know a family with children at St Aidans who did not attend church to make sure they got a place, they weren't asked about religion and it wasn't taken into account when their child was allocated a place.

    Having said that, there are some great non faith schools in the area, no need for children to be shipped off to Seven Sisters.
  • edited August 2017
    Don't worry too much Grenners. I know school applications are a bit of a nightmare but we're quite lucky in Stroud Green as Stroud Green primary has quite a large catchment and is a good school that is expected to improve further as a result of the new head. So if you are outside of the catchment for your first choice of St Aidan's (which varies year on year but is about 0.2 miles (you can find the "last distance admitted" on Haringey's website) then Stroud Green primary would likely be a reasonably safe second preference, as long as it doesn't improve so much that the catchment shrinks dramatically. If you do want to hedge your bets and look into St Mary's and St Peter's then church attendance is given preference there, but it's attendance at specific churches which does not, I believe, include Holy Trinity church which is the church associated with St Aidan's. Unless you fall into the criteria for looked after children, children with a SEN statement naming the school or sibling priority then distance is the only relevant criterion at St Aidan's, though it is worth noting that places do come up on the waiting list fairly often and although these are allocated on the same basis sometimes you can shoot up the waiting list quite dramatically as people don't always want to move their children once settled elsewhere.

    This is the document you need, but it doesn't include schools which were not oversubscribed, or the church schools I mentioned which set their own admissions criteria. It also only covers Haringey schools but you are free to apply to Islington schools too - there is no preference for Islington residents for school places (unlike nursery).
  • One thing I noted when linking that is the catchments for the secondary schools have generally increased this last year - Stroud Green would be in catchment for Highgate Wood if that becomes the new average.
  • Also Weston Park had a larger catchment last year that would overlap with St Aidan's catchment but it may or may not be a blip (complicated factors at play there including previous bulge classes and change of headteacher)
  • Interesting about Highgate Wood. A dozen or so years ago friends in Evershot Rd got in with no trouble, and my daughter got in from Corbyn st after a couple of months on the summer waiting list. Two years ago doing another application from the same address we were nowhere near. Demographic dip?
  • grennersgrenners Ferme Park Road, N4
    @trainspotter 0.2 miles is incredibly small. About 300 metres I think as I am a metric kind of person. Do you know if it's walking distance or as the crow flies? As you say Weston Park or Stroud Green might both be options. Is st Mary's and st Peter's both Catholic?
  • Crows I believe. Don't forget Skinner's across the Park for secondary education. Quite a few ex SGS puplils go there
  • St Peter's is staunch Catholic, St Aiden's I understand is Church of England. It would be highly surprising if the churches associated with them crossed over at all @trainspotter
  • grennersgrenners Ferme Park Road, N4
    Well as the crow flies we would be just within the distances of the last child admitted data although that can vary a lot year on year and I cannot find how they measure that. With distances so small it matters where your front door is and where the boundary of the school is. How big your garden is and where the school gate is located could be deciding factor in tiny distances. I'm sure the council find it difficult to get it 100% correct and no doubt hide that kind if detail deliberately. I'll find out eventually but I can't move my front door. The council pages refer to "distance crteria" but I can't see where that's listed?

    The issue I just read is the sibling rule where siblings get a place above those living near. Last year there were 7 siblings in a class of 30.

    Anyway the forum has been very useful in making me realise it's about crows not Jesus. I had no idea the distances were so small. It's less than a 5 minute walk.
  • edited August 2017
    "Crows not Jesus" might be the new forum motto.
  • Yes indeed. We are less than 5 mins walk away and got a place but our next door neighbours didn't a few years ago when the disance was approx half what it is now and siblings in a class of 30 can reach 20+, though parents always complain about this rule first time round then accept it just fine when their younger children benefit from it - there are swings and roundabouts to any system. There is a distance calculator on the Haringey website too - though it doesn't claim to be 100% accurate.

    @Missannie - maybe surprising, maybe not. Some schools seem to give preference to any faith rather than heathens like me, but I was just making the point that if you're looking to go to church as a ticket to a primary school then picking just any church to "show your face at" isn't generally enough.
  • @grenners distance is the tiebreaker criterion for all categories, including "other".
  • You will find that when the first child is in the school the parents move to be with a short distance of say Fortismere. Second child gets into both schools on the sibling rules which explains why there are so many cars delivering kids to the schools when they are supposed to be less than 5 mins away ! I know someone who rented out the flat in SG rented up at Fortismere, could see the heads office, waited a respectable time and moved back. Person is quite famous and it is outrageous. If you do that you have to be really careful as some schools will ask for proof of residence going back several years I suppose to make doing this costly.
  • If you have not properly divested yourself of the first property they can use that as your proper address. This can count even if you have genuinely moved into the temporary accommodation and the place can be taken away even if your child has started there. I don't know how rigorous enforcement is but the powers are there. This wouldn't stop people from moving out of the immediate catchment after their first child secures a place though as long as there was no other property in the mix at the time the first place is allocated. There was a consultation on amending the sibling priority rules to remove or limit this possibility but it was not popular and didn't come into force.
  • @Grenners, our daughter goes to St Peters and our youngest starts in September. It is a Catholic school (and a really good place).

    If the school is oversubscribed then this happens:

    The criteria shifts down with 'looked after' catholic children stuff at the top, then practising Catholics (you get a form signed stating attendance from your local priest, baptised Catholics, other looked after children, Eastern faiths (ie Greek Orthodox), other Christian denominations, children of other faiths, all other children.

    Having a sibling already there only increases your chances within the level you are in, ie if you were a baptised Catholic with an older sister there you would only move above kids in that category without siblings, not above practising Catholics.

    In general if you're Catholic you get in, distance doesn't really matter.

    Interestingly, this year they are having two slightly smaller classes, so I am not sure if they were oversubscribed.

    Also, on the St Aidans thing. Massive generalisation, but I reckon you are more likely there to get a place from someone dropping out from having secured one, as there will be more kids round there likely to go to private school - as that's where the expensive houses are.
  • "baptised Catholics, other looked after children, Eastern faiths (ie Greek Orthodox), other Christian denominations, children of other faiths, all other children." - Am I right to read that as a hierarchy between faiths (as evidenced by baptism etc) and then no faith at the bottom? That seems kind of wrong to me - even if you're prepared to accept the basic premise that schools can give preference to families who regularly attend a particular type of church.
  • and @missannie - the problem with your statement "there are plenty of schools where you will never need to concern yourself with it" is the fact that it isn't always true.

    Some people last year were allocated St Mary's - a faith school - despite not having expressed it as a preference on their form at all because it was the nearest school in the borough with places on offer day and all their (6) preferences were full. The borough has then achieved its obligation to educate your child and if you refuse the place it has no further obligation to you.

    So school places are a scarce resource in this country, this city in particular. If you practise (or even if you don't from what Papa L has posted above) a particular faith you get preference. I don't think that's right for public services. I can't think of any real justification for it to be honest. Why not just go to church and leave school to be faith-neutral? But I don't think it'll change any time soon.
  • Indoctrinating impressionable children with irrational nonsense at schools payed for out of general taxation would be bad enough even if it didn't distort parent's ability to get their children into their local school.
  • grennersgrenners Ferme Park Road, N4
    I was brought up vaguely C of E. My wife is vaguely Ukrainian Orthodox. I don't really care which school they go to as long as it's near my house and it's a good one. I have some views on religion but I will keep them to myself and do what I have to do. Seems I do not have to do anything extra to make sure I don't unwittingly miss out on St Aidan's through my own inaction.

    I'll worry about secondary education later. The price of a second home near Fortismere might be a bit too much for me.
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