Calling Earlsfield frustrated parents...

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papinian
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Re: Calling Earlsfield frustrated parents...

Postby papinian » Mon May 05, 2014 10:53 am

SwallowsandAmazons: I appreciate you finally answering the questions that myself and others have been raising.

However:

(1) If a parent chooses not to have their son participate in religious observance (as is their right under law) then their son should not be obliged to wear a skullcap. Does the school accept that?

(2) If a parent chooses not to have their child participate in religious dietary requirements and send a packed lunch containing meat or non-kosher food does the school accept that?

I am very concerned that you suggest that non-Jewish children, who may not even have chosen to go to Mosaic, should be expected to comfort to Jewish religious practices in order to show respect for them. What about showing respect for non-Jewish children who don't want to keep kosher or wear skullcaps?

It is disappointing that you try to deflect comments by bringing up Catholic schools such as Our Lady Queen of Heaven.

First, unlike Mosaic, the Catholic church funded the land and buildings of Our Lady Queen of Heaven school. In fact, with Mosaic, the Wimbledon Synagogue has received tens of thousands of pounds in rent, paid by the taxpaper, for accommodating Mosaic on its site. Very different.

Secondly, as far as I am aware, the only pupils being assigned places at Catholic primary schools by Wandsworth Council are those who have chosen them. This is very different from the position with Mosaic.

Thirdly, as I said in my earlier post, Catholic schools in Wandsworth do not impose religious dietary restrictions on what can be included in packed lunches and do not impose religious dress requirements.
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Mummymummymummy
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Re: Calling Earlsfield frustrated parents...

Postby Mummymummymummy » Mon May 05, 2014 10:57 am

Swallowsandamazoms, you're missing the point. Of course if I were to visit a mosque I would observe the appropriate dress code, just as I would in a synagogue. These parents are not choosing to visit a place of worship, their children are being forced to attend a school that is not of their faith and observe religious practices they may fundamentally disagree with. This is a human rights issue.

I can't believe this hasn't made the press, national let alone local. I wonder if there are any Muslim families being sent to this school, how would this be dealt with? I sincerely hope their cultural and religious needs would be met (I suspect not)

If specialist faith schools are being used to plug the gap in state education, how will people feel about girls being sent to Muslim schools and asked to cover their hair.

If my children were being sent to this school I would make it absolutely clear to the council and school that we would not be participating in or observing any religious practices. I think if you apply for a state education, that is what you are entitled to.
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SwallowsandAmazons
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Re: Calling Earlsfield frustrated parents...

Postby SwallowsandAmazons » Mon May 05, 2014 12:29 pm

I am not disagreeing with what has been written by previous posters. I know that I chose this school and others didn't so it is entirely different. I am just trying to balance what the perceived viewpoint of the Jewish religious education might be with the reality of experiencing it myself. I can only speak from my own perspective as a parent attending the school and my own beliefs.

I can't answer re the opt out re skull caps and diet. The 1944 Education Act suggests that a parent can opt out of religious instruction for their child in state funded school but how far that is taken in this faith school or other faith schools, I am no expert on. How far can pupils opt out of religious education or practices in other faith schools in the area? How far do parents on this thread want to opt out - is it the skull caps and diet that is causing the most concern or other practices too? I don't mind them so we haven't opted out, that is all I can say. You would all need to take this up with the school. I would hope that if a parent felt strongly enough, they could opt out.

But I would also hope that if you were a non-Christian forced to go to a Christian school, you would feel that you could execute this right effectively also? And what about participating in prayers at a secular school?

All I am saying is that during the religious worship of the school, some religious observance is required, as per if you were visting a place of religious worship. Of course, if you were forced to visit a mosque, church, synagogue or temple and didn't want to go, that would be a terrible thing.

I also think that focusing on just this faith school is missing the point of a much bigger debate about faith schools and how religious education is taught in our supposedly secular schools. I certainly am more concerned by the fact that councils do not provide completely secular schools where all viewpoints are taught equally and without enforced religious instruction/practice of any kind. I believe there is a proposal for a secular free school in the local area, which I hope comes to fruition - and that it really is truly secular.

How faith schools are funded be they MJPS or Our Lady Queen of Heaven and the school sites they habitate, it's all tax payers money, even if contributions do come from their religious communities! At least MJPS, has a fairer selection criteria.

And now I will depart to enjoy a sunny Bank Holiday and let others voice their opinons... ;)
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papinian
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Re: Calling Earlsfield frustrated parents...

Postby papinian » Mon May 05, 2014 12:55 pm

SwallowsandAmazons wrote:How faith schools are funded be they MJPS or Our Lady Queen of Heaven and the school sites they habitate, it's all tax payers money, even if contributions do come from their religious communities! At least MJPS, has a fairer selection criteria.
Please please stop telling untruths on this thread. It reflects very badly on Mosaic that rather than dealing with the issues with Mosaic you make incorrect comparisons with other schools.

As I have already stated on this thread, all of the funding of the premises of Mosaic has come from the taxpayer (and gone into the pockets of Wimbledon synagogue). By contrast, in the case of the (Catholic school) Our Lady Queen of Heaven most of the cost of the site and buildings comes from the taxpaper.

You say that Mosaic has fairer selection criteria than Our Lady Queen of Heaven. I don't know what you mean by the word "fairer" but as you know Mosaic is currently not in compliance with the school admissions code and has rigged its admission criteria so as to try to prefer families that have no religious faith but are culturally/ethnically Jewish, even though this is not permitted, and to give preference to the expensive private nursery run by one of the directors of Mosaic, again even though this is not permitted. If you have any evidence that Our Lady Queen of Heaven is not complying with the school admissions code then set it out here. Otherwise, I would suggest that you stop talking about that school.
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papinian
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Re: Calling Earlsfield frustrated parents...

Postby papinian » Mon May 05, 2014 1:00 pm

Sorry - bank holiday blues. My preceding email should have said:

"By contrast, in the case of the (Catholic school) Our Lady Queen of Heaven most of the cost of the site and buildings has come from the Catholic parish and not from the taxpaper."
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SwallowsandAmazons
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Re: Calling Earlsfield frustrated parents...

Postby SwallowsandAmazons » Mon May 05, 2014 2:10 pm

Papinian - let's set the record straight here. Nothing that I say reflects badly on Mosaic itself, as these are my views and experiences and have no affiliation with the school whatsoever. So please don't cast aspersions that you know don't exist. I don't reply to you in this way so please do me the courtesy of doing the same. I am not a governor of the school and do not contribute to their decision making process in any way so please stop implying that I do.

My experience of the selection criteria of Our Lady is my own and I found it unfair. It may well be adhering to the schools admissions code (I am not an expert on this) but for me, it is still unfair. I am a local resident to the school, less than a km, but when I looked into their criteria, before applying for a Reception place, I found that my daughter would be 9th on the priority list as we have no faith.

I applied to MJPS as part of the open place system as we are not Jewish. There are only a few families who attended the non-expensive private nursery with children in Reception and most of them live geographically very close. Most of the other Jewish and non-Jewish parents sent their children to private or state schools local to them.
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anootka
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Re: Calling Earlsfield frustrated parents...

Postby anootka » Mon May 05, 2014 3:56 pm

Papinian
I am both Jewish and American and very proud of it!
My husband is English and is an Atheist. I also strongly believe in separation of church and state!

So by no means is a faith school my idea of utopia. However when we didn't get into any local schools this was our only choice.
Now as far as skull caps yes children wear them on Fridays during a 15 minutes ceremony. If a child or parent had an issue with this one should speak to the head she is truly an amazing person and understands all points of view.

As far as food, due to the fact that the school is within a Kosher facility temporarily until the new site is built the children bring in Vegetarian lunches. And trust me for a Cheeseburger loving American this has not been easy, but for the children has been a no big deal. First few weeks mums shared recipes and ideas and now everyone is settled into it, and now it's just a part of the routine. From next September there is legislature that's gone through that mandates all primary schools must provide a hot lunch to all children under a certain age, so mums won't need to worry about that issue either.
Papian I am not a cheerleader for the school I am just a mum, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or want to meet. My name is Anna and I live in Earlsfield.
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anootka
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Re: Calling Earlsfield frustrated parents...

Postby anootka » Mon May 05, 2014 4:22 pm

Oh and about me moving my children back to the US
After spending 6 weeks in NY doing a lot of research there about the schools and comparing the education structures in both countries and planning our movie to US we have decided that the education is so much more superior where we are now that even moving to the best and most expensive place in US we are still better off in Wandsworth at Mosaic!
So I am here to stay and both of my boys will be here at Mosaic.
Because it's the best place I've found both in UK and America
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SwallowsandAmazons
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Re: Calling Earlsfield frustrated parents...

Postby SwallowsandAmazons » Tue May 06, 2014 10:33 am

Here was the admissions policy for entry to Our Lady Queen of Heaven Sept 2013, as is published on their website:

ADMISSION POLICY AND PROCEDURE 2013
Our Lady Queen of Heaven School is a voluntary aided school in the Diocese of Southwark. It is in the trusteeship of the Diocese. The school is conducted by its governing body as part of the Catholic Church in accordance with its Trust Deed and Instrument of Government, and seeks at all times to be a witness to Jesus Christ. As a Catholic school, we aim to provide a Catholic education for all our pupils. At a Catholic school, Catholic doctrine and practice permeates every aspect of the school’s activity. It is essential that the Catholic character of the school’s education is fully supported by all families in the school. The school exists primarily to serve the Catholic community. However, the Governing Body welcomes applications, subject to the availability of places, from those of other denominations and faiths who support the religious ethos of the school.
The governing body has responsibility for admissions to this school and, having consulted with the local authority and other admission authorities, intends to admit 30 pupils to the Reception class in the school year which begins in September 2013 without reference to ability or aptitude.
Where the number of applications on behalf of children exceeds 30, the Governors will offer places, in the order stated, using the following criteria:-
1. Looked after Catholic children or looked after children in the care of Catholic families and previously looked after Catholic children who have been adopted or who have become the subject of a residence or guardianship order. (See Note i)
2. Baptised practising Catholic children and practising children enrolled in the catechumenate who have a sibling in the school at the time of admission. Evidence of Baptism/catechumenate will be required.
3. Baptised practising Catholic children and practising children enrolled in the catechumenate from Catholic families resident in the parishes of Our Lady and St Peter, Christ the King and St Gregory’s. Evidence of Baptism/catechumenate will be required.
a. (Parish Boundary maps are available at each presbytery and at the school)
4. Baptised practising Catholic children living in neighbouring or other parishes
5. Other Looked After children. ‘Children Looked After and those who ceased to be Children Looked After because they were adopted, or because they became subject to a residence order or a special guardianship order’.
6. Children who are members of Eastern Christian Churches including Orthodox Churches. Evidence of Baptism or reception from the authorities of that Church will be required.
7. Children of families who are members of other Christian denominations. Evidence of Baptism (or dedication) and confirmation that the family are members of the faith community provided by a priest or minister where the family regularly worship will be required.
8. Children of other faiths. Confirmation that the family are known to the priest, minister or religious leader where the family regularly worship will be required.
9. Any other children.

Children of other faiths were placed in a higher category than local children from a family of no faith.
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BFW
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Re: Calling Earlsfield frustrated parents...

Postby BFW » Tue May 06, 2014 11:22 am

But S&A.... with respect to Our Lady Queen of Heaven from what you say in your previous posts, it was your choice to apply to this school and you didn't get it. Presumably if you applied to the school, you would have been happy for your children to be educated in a Catholic environment even if this is not your religion.

With Mosaic, non Jewish families are "forced" to attend a school that follows a faith that its not their own and my understanding is that Wandsworth is not giving them any other options ? I don't dispute that this is an excellent school, and I am very much in favor of my children learning about all religions, but I must admit that I don't think its fair for children to be made to observe religious practices that are not their own especially when this is on a daily basis and also has an impact on what they are allowed to eat !

My own opinion as I really feel for the initial posters in this thread.
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SwallowsandAmazons
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Re: Calling Earlsfield frustrated parents...

Postby SwallowsandAmazons » Tue May 06, 2014 12:28 pm

No BFW, I didn't actually apply to Our Lady as I didn't see there was any point wasting a school choice on a school my daughter would never get into because of their strict selection criteria. I looked into their application process.

As mentioned on numerous occasions above, I am in agreement with the initial posters above and feel their injustice at being given a place at a faith school that was not their choice, so will not repeat myself in explaining that.

All I have done here is state what I know about MJPS in the hope that others can make an informed decision.
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Wandsworth Council
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Re: Calling Earlsfield frustrated parents...

Postby Wandsworth Council » Tue May 06, 2014 1:12 pm

We absolutely recognise the frustration and anxiety that this group of parents will be experiencing and we are committed to finding them a solution by providing additional school places in their part of the borough. We have been discussing options with local headteachers and are confident that we will be able to offer these parents a place that's closer to home than the school they have initially been offered.

The issue has arisen because of a huge rise in demand for school places in this part of the borough, with Earlsfield primary school receiving 334 applications this year for just 60 places. We have already provided 120 extra places this year in the surrounding area and next year will provide 90 more when we open a brand new primary school and expand another very popular and high achieving local primary. However it is clear that we need to create even more places now to cope with this year's unprecedented levels of demand and we intend to do just that.
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broodje
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Re: Calling Earlsfield frustrated parents...

Postby broodje » Tue May 06, 2014 1:24 pm

Great to see Wandsworth Council replying to this thread and dealing with the situation.

I understand that Wandsworth "baby boom" is not your fault and good to see that you will be addressing supply/demand dynamics in the short-term.

However, I am curious to understand why a free school with relatively narrow appeal gets the funding for the number of places the clearly don't have (60 pupil entry) structural demand for? What sort of due diligence was done on their business plan.

I am all for free school having seen them work brilliantly in other countries, but it's fundamental that they have a very robust business case.
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Mummymummymummy
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Re: Calling Earlsfield frustrated parents...

Postby Mummymummymummy » Tue May 06, 2014 2:57 pm

Wandsworth council, I'm from just over the border in Merton and my son currently has no reception place for September. Many other parents like myself are irritated by the twaddle about 'unprecedented demand' By this do you mean lack of planning?

Surely it does not take a genius to look at the number of babies born in a borough and estimate the demand for school places. You've had 4 1/2 years to provide suitable places for these children and yet from both you and Merton Council we see an undignified scramble for school places that have seen both councils coming up with ever more unsuitable and ludicrous solutions.

I don't know about Wandsworth, but I'm told by my local councillor that the lack of a much needed new community school in my borough is due to party politics. I'm frankly disgusted. The council have no interest in providing what is best for my child, he is now simply to be dumped somewhere far from his home, in a community he doesn't know, wherever they can find a space (likely to be a portacabin in another schools playground, yes seriously) I find our local authority unfit to provide an education for our child hence we will be home educating. While I'm very excited about embarking on this journey I feel for those who do not have this option. Our councils should be ashamed.
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papinian
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Re: Calling Earlsfield frustrated parents...

Postby papinian » Tue May 06, 2014 3:00 pm

broodje: To be fair to Wandsworth Council, it's not the one who authorised Mosaic. The authorisation of free schools is done centrally by the Dept of Education (i.e. Michael Gove). I'm in completely the same place as you - I'm a supporter of free schools as a concept (and also of faith schools) but there needs to be some enforcement of the rules to make sure that they are following them and also that a lot of resources are not squandered on schools for which there is no demand.

Mosaic's first problem is that it is trying to be all things to all people - a school for liberal and reform Jews, conservative Jews, people who are culturally Jewish but have no religious faith, people who are not Jewish at all. According to the London Schools Atlas (http://www.london.gov.uk/webmaps/lsa/‎) most people in the area of Mosaic send their children to fee-paying schools even at primary level. You will see from the comments from some of Mosaic's cheerleaders above that they were trying to attract pupils who would otherwise have been sent to fee-paying schools. Indeed, Mosaic even advertised for someone to do a logo for them saying they wanted something to appeal to "middle class and lower middle class parents". However, as one of the Mosaic's cheerleader's acknowledges, most Jewish families in this part of London have chosen not to send their children to Mosaic.

Mosaic's second problem is its location. As some of the first posters on this thread observed, the permanent location in Roehampton is very difficult to get to other than by car. I suspect that some of those involved in Mosaic were happy with this as those families that can logistically do such a return trip will likely be middle class anyhow and the location makes it relatively easy to get to Mosaic by car from a fair amount of south-west London, e.g. Barnes, Richmond, Kingston. However, what has ultimately happened is that there just aren't very many people who want to drive that sort of distance.

Mosaic's third problem is the narrow social backgrounds of the people involved in it. Three of the four men on the board of the school work in the City. Four of the five women on the board of the school (excl. the head) are teachers/lecturers. Socially diverse it is not.
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