No selection, honest guv!

Father Jack
Your child in their hands?

This week’s news on secondary school applications and allocations brings few surprises.

The city’s struggling local authority-run neighbourhood comprehensives – the ones everyone wants to work – continue to remain hopelessly undersubscribed as parents vote with their feet and apply elsewhere.

Meanwhile the city’s few decent local authority schools, headed by the new Redland Green School and followed by St Mary Redcliffe and Cotham School, remain hopelessly oversubscribed.

The Blogger has also made a few enquiries regarding entry to “church school” St Mary Redcliffe in the light of recent headlines claiming that many faith schools may be engaging in the rather un-Christian surreptitious selection of kids.

And apparently in order to apply to get a kid in there you do not necessarily have to bother actually going to church. All you need is a recommendation from your local vicar.

So no doubt church roof replacement funds across a number of Bristol parishes are looking distinctly healthy right now, while a number of Bristol families might be foregoing the Tuscan vacation this coming August.

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7 Responses to No selection, honest guv!

  1. Chris Millman says:

    I have some experience of this process. As far as I remember, the vicar has a form to fill in with a fairly clear four point scale to indicate the level of involvement with the church. This ranges from “family is known to the church” (ie Grandma still goes) through to regular attendance (defined as three weeks out of four, I believe) over a sustained period. If the young person themself attends this is also taken into account. Redcliffe is so heavily subscribed that anything less than this full card carrying membership is not much use to you.

    So if there is abuse of the system (and who is checking?) it would clearly be a case of corruption.

    Incidently, my son decided he would rather go to Fairfield, which has proved an excellent decision. I would recommend the school to any of those parents disappointed not to get the offer they wanted.

  2. Al Shaw says:

    I agree with Chris. Children are not admitted to SMRT on the basis of casual church contact but on regular, long-term church participation by themselves and their families.

    On the wider issue, Portway School is, I believe, hoping to become an academy in 2009. This has the potential to bring some significant improvements to that school.

    Colston’s Girls, meanwhile, is already much further down the road in terms of academy status.

  3. old misery guts says:

    Whichever way you stack it up, if you are one of those quaint and old fashioned individuals who think that quality education for all young people – irrespective of race, creed, faith, class, gender etc – should be what we aspire to, and you live all but a very small part of Bristol, you and your offspring are fucked. If it was up to me (which seriously does not bear thinking about), I’d go for the french laicite model and get religion the fuck out of education and the state. (Always assuming you think the state is a good idea, dont get me started).

    However Bristol’s problems will exacerbate so long as the middle classes continue to “vote with their feet” – exercising their financial and influencing muscle to get what they perceive is the best for their children, at the expense of everyone else. Redland Green is popular because it is stuffed to the gills with middle class kids, Portway and others are currently unpopular because their intake is predominantly working class.

    As to the state of education generally, I’m not sure whether it is wholly the fault of the feckless twats at Bristol City Council, or whether a decent proportion of blame could be ascribed to the splendid new labour, quick lads, let’s pull the drawbridge up behind us approach to the provision of education to the great unwashed.

    My only consolation is that the older I get, the more cynical I am about the value of so called mainstream education anyway – degree in media studies anyone?

  4. fedup says:

    i went through the process of school ‘stuff’ this year, the selection process for St Mary redcliffe is indeed a disgrace, my taxes pay for that school its the closest and my boy goes to the primary. but because we are not regular and active members of the church he cannot go, why…well the letter i got from my MP basically said, ‘we do it cos we can’, utter rubbish and further proof that the schools policy in the UK and bristol DOES NOT WORK

    we’re now going to Ashton park, which may or may not be a good thing, we’ll have to see.

    bristol cathedral school is also in the process of becoming an academy,

  5. Losing my religion says:

    It’s time to take religion out of state education – for sure. Are we not a secular nation now? Religious selection is an anachronism in today’s multicultural society. Many C of E schools have a ten or 20 per cent intake from other religions – but some of these school have a reputation for social segregation and bullying along racial/religious lines. Yes this could happen in any school, but must be more pronounced if you are part of a minority.

    The answer must be to introduce a lottery system – like Brighton – to school selection. Then those who can afford houses near schools like Redland don’t necessarily get their kids into that school. Secondary schools will also become more balanced in terms of ability and background of their pupils. Colston’s has got it right – with selection by lottery and placing all candidates into ability bandings to ensure an equal spread of academic ability.

  6. James Barlow says:

    Instead of taking religion out of state education, why not take the state out of [religious] education?

    The answer is not lotteries or selection; it’s genuine parental choice. Instead of large thousand-seat institutions controlled by the dead hand of Whitehall, we need lots of cheap cottage schools with small intakes, flexible curricula and where every parent has the option to take their child (and money) elsewhere if standards are unacceptable.

    But we’re not going to get this while education is a de facto government monopoly.

  7. MetallicRed says:

    Don’t quote me on this but I’m pretty sure I read somewhere earlier this week that the lottery system in Brighton had served only to drive middle class parents to send their kids to private schools, with applications to the independent sector up by 45% or something.

    Not that that would be much of an issue in Bristol as everyone who can afford to has already got their kids out of the state schools.

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