Choosing a Catholic Secondary School 2019
As it is the parents who have given life to their children, on them lays the gravest obligation to educate the family. They must be recognised as being primarily and principally responsible for their education.
Second Vatican Council:
28th October 1965
I am pleased to write the Foreword to this prospectus which is called ‘Choosing a Catholic Secondary School’. The document is aimed at helping you fulfil the responsibility you undertook at the baptism of your child to ensure his or her education and formation in the Catholic faith. Catholic schools are an important element in this faith formation. You will know that the Catholic Church is deeply committed to education and has an excellent network of schools throughout the Diocese of Westminster. I am glad that you wish to choose a Catholic school for your child.
Before I became Archbishop of Westminster, I was for many years Chairman of the Catholic Education Service. In that role I gained first-hand experience of the wider contribution of Catholic schools to the well-being of our nation as a whole. We are fortunate to have a unique educational partnership in this country between the Church and both local and national Government. In a joint document, “Faith in the System”, the Government celebrated this important partnership and its contribution, not just to the Catholic community but to society in general.
As Catholics, we believe that all creation owes its existence to the will of God. All knowledge, as part of the search for truth, helps us better understand God’s creative love, our relationship with him and its influence on our relationship with other people. This is why the Catholic school is first and foremost a community of faith in which every person is recognised as having the dignity of a child of God. Being able to recognise the truth of themselves before God enables our pupils to celebrate and develop their God given talents. ‘The Glory of God is the human person, fully alive’ (St. Irenaeus).
The distinctive ethos of the Catholic school is rooted in the Word of God who is Jesus Christ. The commitment of the Catholic school to the vision of every human person as a child of God and brother or sister of Jesus is central to the achievement of excellence and success.
I wish you every blessing in your vocation as “the first and best teachers of your children in the ways of faith”. Be assured of the support of the Catholic school in fulfilling your responsibilities.
The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster
Information for parents about Transfer to Catholic Secondary Schools.
This prospectus tells you how to apply for a place for your child at a Catholic secondary school. The advice given in this document is based on the assumption that, whether or not your child is currently attending a Catholic primary school, you wish your child to go to a Catholic Secondary school. If you follow its advice you will maximise your chances of securing a Catholic place for your child.
There are 39 state-funded secondary schools in the Diocese of Westminster. Some of these schools are ‘Voluntary Aided’ schools and some are ‘Academies’: they are run by the Church and funded either by the Local Authority or the Department of Education respectively. All of these secondary schools are part of a co-ordinated admission process which is explained in this prospectus.
All schools in the diocese except one, a grammar school for girls, are comprehensive: that is, they are open to children of all abilities. All our schools have Sixth-Form provision. In some this is self-contained, and in others it is provided in conjunction with a Catholic sixth-form college or other local schools.
There are a small number of independent (fee-paying) Catholic schools in the diocese. These are all listed in this prospectus, but are not part of the co-ordinated admission process. Parents interested in any of these schools should contact the school directly.
1. Get Informed
All secondary schools hold open days and evenings, in July, September or October each year. You are encouraged to visit all of your local Catholic schools, and any other Catholic school in which you are interested. You can use this Prospectus to find out about Catholic schools which you might not have known about. This Prospectus contains contact details for Catholic schools in this diocese and surrounding areas, including the whole of Greater London.
Do not rely on second or third hand information about schools (whether good or bad). It is usually out of date and often inaccurate. Only you can judge whether a particular school is right for your child. Schools welcome visits from parents, and can answer your questions. In particular, do not rule out any of your local Catholic schools unless you have visited them first.
You should also get a copy of each school’s own prospectus: the school will be happy to send you one or give you one when you visit. The prospectus will include the school’s up to date Admission Policy and Oversubscription Criteria. This is important for the next part of the process.
2. Choose Six Catholic Schools
Out of the schools you have seen, choose six Catholic schools that will be suitable for your child. In some parts of the diocese, this may not be possible. In some parts of Hertfordshire, for instance, it may only be practical to name two or three Catholic schools. In most parts of London, however, there will be at least six Catholic schools which are accessible. Naming six Catholic schools will maximise your chances of a place in a Catholic school.
Decide in which order of preference you wish to list the schools. You will probably have formed some strong preferences as you visited the schools. But before you decide, make sure you have read the current Oversubscription Criteria for each school very carefully. Remember that these Criteria change from year to year and school to school.
Reading the Oversubscription Criteria for each school will help you to understand how well you meet the criteria and whether you have a realistic chance of being offered a place at that school. You should ask the school how far down their Oversubscription Criteria was the cut-off point between successful and unsuccessful applicants over the past couple of years. Whilst there is never a guarantee that the pattern will repeat itself, it gives you a good idea how likely you are to be offered a place. For instance, if a school has consistently been unable to give all applicants in its criterion 2 a place, and you only meet their criterion 4, you are unlikely to be offered a place at that school.
Always make sure you have at least one realistic choice (i.e. a school where you are very likely to be offered a place) in your choices. Every year there are some Catholic schools that are able to offer a place to all Catholic applicants. If you put one of these schools in your list, this will maximise your chances of getting a place at a Catholic school.
If your child is eligible for a place at more than one school, your child will be offered a place at the school which you have ranked the highest on your form.
3. Fill in the eAdmissions Form (previously called the CAF)
You must complete the on-line LA eAdmissions form listing up to six schools that you would prefer your child to go to in September 2019. Each LA will have its own form. You must use the form of the LA in whose area you live. You do this no matter where the schools you wish to apply for, or your child’s current primary school, are located. If you do not use the form of your ‘home’ LA none of your applications can be considered. Generally this form is completed on-line however the form will be made available at your child’s primary school, or can be obtained from your LA. If you are not sure which LA you live in, please check with any LA. It will normally be the same as the authority to which you pay your Council Tax.
The eAdmissions Form will invite you to name up to six schools and to rank them in order of preference. For all of the preferences given on the Form, your child will be considered against the admission criteria for the schools concerned. The order in which you list schools should indicate your genuine order of preference for the schools.
Some parents are worried that where they place a school in their order of preference will affect their chances of getting a place. This is not true. The school will not know which position you have put them on the Form and is not allowed to ask. Each school will treat your application exactly the same whether you put them first or sixth. Your order of preference on the eAdmissions Form will not, under any circumstances, be revealed to any of the schools. There are no exceptions to this rule. You must therefore ensure that the order you list the schools reflects your genuine choices, as you cannot change your mind later.
You do not have to name as many as six schools on the eAdmissions Form if you do not wish but there is no advantage in naming fewer than six, or by naming a school more than once. It is sensible to give as many preferences as you can in case your first preference, then your second preference, and so on, is unsuccessful. If you fill in a paper form you must return your form to the LA at the address given on the Form. You are recommended to keep a copy of the form and proof of posting or delivery in case there is a query later on.
4. Fill in Six Supplementary Information Forms (SIFs)
You must complete a separate Supplementary Information Form (SIF) for every Catholic school to which you apply. This form will ask you questions such as whether your child and you as parents are baptised Catholics, and which parish you live in. The questions, information and the evidence required will vary from school to school. It will depend on the school’s Oversubscription Criteria.
The evidence required will generally be a Baptismal Certificate for your child and a Certificate of Catholic Practice signed by a priest at the parish where you worship. Any other information or documentation requested is only that which is necessary to operate a particular criterion.
The Supplementary Information Form is available from each Catholic secondary school. The form for each school will be different, as it is particular to that school. It is a good idea to get hold of the forms for all of the schools you have chosen before asking your priest for the Certificates of Catholic Practice. This way you will only need to make one visit to the priest.
You need to make sure that you have completed and returned a separate Supplementary Information Form to each and every one of the Voluntary Aided schools and Academies that you have listed on the eAdmissions Form.
Certificate of Baptism
All Catholic schools have oversubscription criteria which give priority to baptised Catholic children. If you wish your child to be considered under one of these criteria you must submit your child’s baptism certificate at the same time as the SIF. Please note that some schools will require the original baptismal certificate. If you are applying to several schools that require the original baptismal certificate you should go to the school offices with the original certificate and explain this to the admin staff who can then photocopy the document and confirm that they have seen the original.
The Certificate of Catholic Practice
Some schools will require you to provide a Certificate of Catholic Practice as proof that you are a practising Catholic family i.e. that the child and a parent have attended Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation for the past five years. You will need to obtain the Certificate from the priest at the parish where the family normally worships. You should obtain a Certificate for each school that requires one (i.e. up to 6 Certificates.) The Certificate should be submitted to the school with the SIF and the Certificate of Baptism. If you or your child have been baptised/received into the Church within the past 5 years or your attendance has been shorter than this then you should discuss this with your parish priest.
5. Return all the Forms by the Closing Date
The Closing Date for the eAdmissions Form to be received is 31st October 2018. You must complete the eAdmissions form or return a paper Application Form to the LA on or before this date.
For most Catholic schools the date set for the return of the Supplementary Information Forms to each school is the Friday before half-term i.e. 26th October 2018. You need to make sure of the date for the return of these forms, which must be returned to each school not the LA.
If you miss the Closing Date, you are very unlikely to get a place in any Catholic school. This is because if any of your forms are late, your application will not be processed until March 2018, after everyone else has been allocated a place. Most schools will then be full. It is therefore very important that you complete your application and return it on time.
If you have applied to six Catholic schools, you will therefore need to return a total of seven forms to seven different locations by the closing date. Remember, all these Forms are essential for the Secondary Transfer process. If you do not return a Supplementary Information Form (SIF) to EVERY Catholic school you are applying for AND list them on the eAdmissions Form, your application will not be successful in any oversubscribed school and you will be left without a place.
What happens next…?
Each LA co-ordinates all applications from its own residents, no matter where the schools you apply to are situated. It enters your six choices onto a single, computerised register which covers the whole of the Pan-London scheme.
Once the Closing Date has passed, Each LA draws down the details of applicants to all schools in its area, and sends each Admission Authority in its area a list of all those who have applied to it. In a Voluntary Aided school or Academy, the Governing Body is the Admission Authority, whereas in a Community school the LA is the Admission Authority.
Each Catholic school to which you have applied on the eAdmissions Form will therefore receive your basic details from the LA. They will then match up these details with the Supplementary Information Form you have sent to the school. Using the information from both of these, each school will apply its own Oversubscription Criteria to rank all applicants in order of how well they meet the school’s Criteria. This information, and the school’s admission number, is put onto the Pan-London Register.
When all Admission Authorities have returned this information, the system will know how many applicants have potential offers of places. Many will have several potential offers at this stage. Using the parents’ own preferences on the eAdmissions Form, the system works out which of these potential offers the parent would prefer. All the other potential offers are redistributed to parents lower down each school’s list, until no-one is holding more than one offer.
Notification to all London Parents on 1st March 2019
On 1st March 2019 your LA will write to you telling you whether you have an offer of a place. If you completed an on-line eAdmissions form you will be able to see your offer on-line on this date. If this offer is from a Voluntary Aided school or Academy, the offer will be made on behalf of the Governing Body of the School. You will be given a short time to write back and accept the offer. If you are one of the very few who have not been offered a place, the LA may allocate you a place in a school which you have not chosen.
Right of Appeal
If you are not offered your first choice school, you can find out the reasons why you were not offered a place at any school above the one you were offered from the relevant Admission Authority. For each of these schools, you have a right of appeal to an Independent Appeal Panel. Details of the procedure can be obtained from the Clerk to the Governing Body at each school.
In all LAs you can now apply on-line using the eAdmissions Form. The process for considering an on-line application is the same as that for paper applications. The advantage of applying on-line is that you will receive your offer on 1st March 2019 on-line before the letters are received. In particular, you must still fill in and submit a Supplementary Information Form (SIF) for every Catholic school you list on the eAdmissions Form. The SIF will still be in paper form.
Pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans
Pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan do not apply using the system set out in this Prospectus. Instead, transfer to Secondary school is dealt with by the Special Educational Needs Department at your local authority. You must contact your LA if this applies to your child.
Parents will be informed about how waiting lists will operate in accordance with each individual school’s published admission arrangements.
The waiting lists for all Voluntary Aided schools and Academies will use the existing criteria on which the original decisions were based, i.e. they will give priority to applicants according to the degree they meet the school’s published Oversubscription criteria. Children’s names will always be kept on a waiting list until at least the end of the autumn term, sometimes longer.
Moving into the Area
This Prospectus only describes the system for allocating school places during the normal Secondary Transfer round, i.e. the round operating during the school year when your child is in Year Six. If you move into an area outside that normal round, you will need to look at separate advice on school admissions. Your best advice is to contact the local Catholic secondary schools in which you are interested to see if they have any vacancies in your child’s year. In cases of difficulty, please contact the Diocesan Education Service, who will be able to circulate your details among Catholic Secondary schools that may have vacancies.
To apply for admission, you must:
- fill in your home Local Authority’s eAdmissions Form;
- fill in a Supplementary Information Form for every Catholic school where you wish to apply for a place and return these to each school;
- return all forms (up to seven of them!) before 26th October 2018.
If you do not fill in a Supplementary Information Form for EVERY Catholic school to which you are applying AND list them on the eAdmissions Form, you will not be successful in getting a place in any oversubscribed Catholic school.
If the oversubscription criteria of the schools you are applying to require a certificate of baptism and/or a Certificate of Catholic Practice, you must submit these, with the SIF, to each school, by 26th October 2018.