Wednesday the 16th of June

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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Pushy parents criticised as tricks to grab school places revealed

The Catholic Education Service (CES) has said it is concerned at the measures some parents are going to in order to obtain a good school place for their child.

According to the recently released Sutton Trust’s Parent Power report, going to church, buying a second home or using a relative’s address are some of the tactics used by parents to get their child into a good school.

“This research raises concerns about the measures some parents are taking to seek out the right school for their child,” a CES spokesperson told The Catholic Universe.

Almost a third (30 per cent) of professional parents said they know someone who has used ethically dubious means to get their children into a good school. The most common tactics include attending church services (31 per cent) in order to get into a religious school, and appealing against admissions decisions (29 per cent).

The report draws on a YouGov survey of 1,017 parents of school-age children who were asked how they choose schools, the strategies they undertake to get into those schools, and the extra support they give their children.

Half of the state school parents polled (49 per cent) reported having been asked for an extra financial donation to their school in the last year.

One fifth (20 per cent) of parents from the highest social group said they know someone who has bought or rented a second home in the catchment area of a good school. This is compared to just six per cent of those in the lowest social class.

A total of 16 per cent of all parents said they know someone who has used a relative’s address.

Both of these strategies are potentially fraudulent.

Attending church and contesting decisions were popular among all social groups, potentially due to the lack of financial implications, according to the report.

But there was a clear social gap when employing the strategies which cost money.

Parents in the top social group were twice as likely to say they know someone who has moved to get into a particular school (33 per cent vs 15 per cent), and almost four times as likely to say they know someone who has paid for private tuition (37 per cent vs 10 per cent) to pass an entrance test.

The survey also asked parents what they take into consideration when making their school choice.

Local reputation (93 per cent), meeting the particular needs of the child (92 per cent), and proximity to the home (83 per cent) were the most commonly cited reasons.

The CES added: “We have a longstanding partnership with the Office of Schools Adjudicator to ensure that Catholic school admissions procedures are fair and transparent and comply with the schools’ admissions code. This enables all parents to make the best choice for their child.

“Catholic admissions produce catchment areas which are 10x larger than average. This results in greater socio-economic and ethnic diversity in our school populations and helps mitigate against the postcode lottery reported in some other schools.

“Most Catholic schools are not oversubscribed by Catholics and, where they are, only a baptismal certificate is usually required.

“We continue to work closely with the dioceses, the Government and LAs to ensure that there is a place for anyone who seeks a Catholic education for their child,” the spokesperson added.