Praying for place at St Albans church school
PUBLISHED: 18:10 12 March 2009 | UPDATED: 14:01 06 May 2010
PARENTS hoping to get their children into a popular Church of England primary school are going to have to provide solid proof of their attendance at St Albans Abbey services. Abbey JMI in Grove Road, St Albans, was recently judged outstanding by Ofsted
PARENTS hoping to get their children into a popular Church of England primary school are going to have to provide solid proof of their attendance at St Albans Abbey services.
Abbey JMI in Grove Road, St Albans, was recently judged "outstanding" by Ofsted and frequently has three times as many applicants as places. The school has now drawn up strict guidelines to ensure only those who belong to the Cathedral congregation will get in if the school is oversubscribed.
As a Voluntary Aided school, the governors set the admission criteria and it is they, rather than the local education authority Herts County Council, who actually determine which children will be offered places.
From September 2009 after priority groups have places, qualification for remaining spots will be measured as attendance at Abbey services for an average of twice a month for a period of two years prior to the application date.
Families who move to St Albans and join the cathedral congregation within the two-year period should have attendance at their previous church confirmed by a member of the clergy.
The Abbey's sub-dean Canon Stephen Lake said: "We are not operating this policy in isolation. We have taken advice from county and from the diocese admissions adviser. This is not a radical move - just an attempt to make things fairer."
He explained that children in care and siblings took priority before those who applied on the basis of their Christian faith.
Canon Lake added: "The main purpose of this is to make the system fairer and it will only come into play when there is oversubscription in any of our categories. It is not in any way intended to discourage families from applying to the school."
He added that churches kept their own membership lists rather like an electoral roll. Members would only be included after six months of regular attendance. But he stressed that clergy at the cathedral knew their congregation in any case.