The proposals to change the way children are admitted to Church of England schools might, when heard on news bulletins, sound a bit arcane. But if carried through they could be dramatic for the character of schools and indeed the towns the schools are in.
Take Wanstead Church School. Current admissions policy has 11 categories of child, with places being awarded in order.
â€¢ Top of the list is “looked after children”, eg children in care or those who have been adopted.
â€¢ Then come cases of special social or pastoral need.
â€¢ Third in line are children whose families are at the heart of the church – firstly those who attend Christchurch or St Mary’s, and secondly those who attend St Gabriel’s Aldersbrook or Holy Trinity Hermon Hill.
â€¢ Fourth are children who aren’t classed as being “at the heart” of the church but are nevertheless “committed to it”. Then come other categories of being siblings of existing pupils, being at the heart of or being committed to other churches in Wanstead, being known to the church, and…
â€¢ Finally, category 11, “Remaining places will be offered to those living closest to the school as defined by the local authority.”
Readers might like, for the sake of diversion, to estimate the numbers of children admitted to Wanstead Church School – which has an annual intake of 30 – for the year 2010/11.
If you’ve given up guessing, here are the answers, (as recorded in Redbridge’s Primary School Admission to Reception 2011/12 document, available here):
â€¢ Looked after children – none
â€¢ Special social need – none
â€¢ Children of families at the heart of Christchurch or St Mary’s – 29
â€¢ Children of families at the heart of St Gabriel’s or Holy Trinity – 1
â€¢ Remaining categories – none, obviously.
The proposals are that 10% of places are reserved for churchgoing children would, if accepted by the church’s educational board, need to be accepted by the school governors. But if they were adopted, with just three places reserved for children of church families, it is clear to see the impact on families with young children who live in Wanstead, whether or not they go to church.