How to Get a Place at a Religious School
Religious schools - or Faith Schools - as they are becoming known, are different from mainstream schools in that they will offer not only the National Curriculum but also specific instruction in the teachings of a particular religion.
Religious schools offer teachings with reference to a particular religion in a community or locale, but only on agreement with local residents and the local education authority.
It is worth noting at this point, that faith schools may be voluntary-aided, which means that a governing body different from the local education authority is responsible for overseeing the admissions process and is therefore responsible for the intake in a school year.
Admissions ProcessThere is really little difference between a religious school and a mainstream school when it comes to the admissions process. You may find this surprising, given that faith schools teach specific religious criteria, but the whole process of applying to have your child placed at the school is no more taxing than applying for a mainstream primary or secondary school.
The process would begin in the same way as it would if you were the parent of a child who was intending to send their child to a state run school.
As always, it is advisable to visit the school, or schools, and speak with the head teacher or senior teachers to try to get a feel for the school and how it operates.
Whereas most admissions authorities use a system called 'banding', which is nothing more than a system of random allocation or a 'lottery', faith schools operate on a slightly more direct approach.
As mentioned before, the admissions process differs little from the normal schools' admission code, but they may well ask for evidence that your child or children attends a relevant place of worship, depending on their religion.
This information will be provided either by a minister, a priest, a rabbi or someone of equal stature, depending on the religious nature of the school you wish your child to attend.
Beyond this, the process is remarkably similar to that of mainstream state education. Admission applications and supplementary applications are submitted to the school for their consideration, and this should be done with as much notice as possible.
Unlike mainstream state schools, there are limited placements given the religious aspect of the schooling, so applying in plenty of time is always an advantage.
Likewise, it is useful to speak with your local church representative as they will have doubtlessly had dealings with the school, or schools, in question and will be able to point you in the right direction should you need further information regarding the school.
As with the process of school admissions in general, it can be daunting if you are unfamiliar with it, and with faith schools, that process always seems more so. It is, however, safe to say that the process is no harder, or more stressful, than mainstream state school admissions and it should be looked upon in that way.
With the right preparation, and the right attention to detail, the process should go smoothly, but again it is worth remembering that your child's views are important and relevant in this most important of decision.